The Big Mo

Communicating with your friends or potential partners in 2007 is easy like Sunday morning. From a practicality perspective, people have never been more accessible in so many forms at any time of the day or night than right now.

But like any advance in technology, there are unexpected glitches.

It wasn’t always this easy to have someone at hello. Remember the movie Singles? In one scene toward the end, Campbell Scott is depressed and bombed and decides to call his ex-girlfriend, Kyra Sedgwick, from a pay phone at a noisy bar (others outside the booth think it’s a bathroom and continually bang away at the door while he’s trying to speak from the heart…funny stuff and perhaps a hint of a metaphor). Anyway, Scott leaves a long answering machine message which contains his final ultimatum for the former couple to give the relationship once last try. Scott warns that if she doesn’t get back to him, he’ll never call her again. Predictably, Sedgwick’s answering machine eats the tape that the message is on and therefore never hears it. Luckily for them, Sedgwick goes to Scott’s apartment weeks later and regurgitates a line he used on her after their first date: “I was just nowhere near your neighborhood.” They end up getting an apartment together.

But what if she held firm and decided to dismiss the possibility of them reconciling after not hearing from him? Would the technology shortcomings of the early 90s been held responsible for changing the course of the rest of their fictional lives?

A little inside, I know…

But in 2007, with texting, instant messaging, emails, crackberries, cell phones with digital voice mail and landline home phones to communicate with, it is impossible for a scenario like this to occur. Perfection, via the aforementioned Big Six options, has been achieved in the world of dating transmissions.

With perfection comes high expectations…

And that’s not a good thing when just getting to know someone.

Instead, we now see this state of affairs occurring with regularity: Boy meets girl. Boy programs her number into his cell/blackberry. Boy calls girl 2-5 days later for a date. Boy and girl get along well when meeting for drinks and/or dinner. Boy then makes crucial mistake of texting her a day or two later to see casually ask, “What’s going on?” or “How are things?”.

Girl is offended that guy texted instead of calling. She waits to text back. He waits to text her back, shoots her an email in the meantime. She waits to email him back to establish an equal lapse in replying while also emailing her trusted circle of friends asking, “What the hell is wrong with this guy? I thought we had a good time.” Friends float conspiracy theory that he’s texting because he’s with another girl and can’t talk. Trust is destroyed without due process. Guy still doesn’t know he’s doing anything out of the ordinary. Yankees lose another game 10-8 despite A-Rod hitting two homers, racking up seven RBIs and scoring five runs, which has nothing to do with this column, but it is difficult for the author to resist sharing his glee. Anyway, guy finally calls girl a week later, but something is lost in all of this pseudo-interaction:


Yes, momentum exists in more than just the NHL playoffs and surfing. It is THE primary factor in getting a first date to the all-important third encounter. And once a guy loses momentum with a gal by screwing around with his communication options instead of going back to what has worked since the telephone was invented (See: dialing and actually having a conversation) he just blew it despite staying in touch and thereby following the basic rules of engagement in the embryonic stages, albeit through an oft-used loophole.

Momentum can also vanish even when avoiding the easy route of texting and emailing, and yes, sometimes it’s absolutely nobody fault on either end. Let’s say the same course of events occurs, but after Date One the guy or girl is forced to go away for work or takes a vacation. No exclusivity rules apply yet, so to call during a vacation or business trip may seem awkward and inappropriate. By the time one of the parties returns to Hoboken, another weekend has gone by, and in the interim one of them (a) Met someone else and had a first date and was followed up with more promptly by their new catch or, (b) Any feeling of ecstasy after that quality first encounter has been mostly lost due to time and space.

One other momentum-killer is the miscommunication of temporarily incompatible itineraries. For example, a guy could ask a girl to go to a Devils playoff game (fine choice) on a Saturday night for a second date. However, she unfortunately has a wedding to attend and can’t make it. He then doesn’t know if that’s a true alibi or an excuse to hold him off, and therefore is hesitant to offer an alternative to do something else on another night. If she’s an old-fashioned gal, she’ll simply wait for him to propose an evening together at a different time, as he doesn’t want to press matters or appear needy.

Besides, he thinks to himself, she could be the one to take action and plan something since he already took the initiative to first get her number, follow up with a first date proposal, and proceed to offer up the arrangements for Date Deuce.

Of course, nothing happens between them for a week outside of an email or two, and suddenly, they’re just not as into to each other as they may have believed after date one.

Pride can invariably be a mo-killer.

And you wonder why the New York Times wedding section is filled with announcements featuring men and women all waiting to get hitched until their mid-thirties.

The trick, and this is either overlooked or ignored by most men, is to recognize when the Big Mo has been lost. Women are more aware of the energy level surrounding a budding relationship, but guys, well, not so much. And the usual result will be the same steady pace of texting, emails and calls from male to female long after she has dismissed him for being aloof, lacking initiative or just being a player trying to juggle three different prospects while not leading any of them on too much.

When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he certainly had no clue how bastardized the simple process of one person communicating with another would become. Texts, IMs and emails that can be read and responded to instantly have harbored and abetted the abandonment of the core rules of courtship. It’s similar to what corporations felt would happen when all of these interactive tools were given to employees: They are supposed to make us more productive, but ultimately only serve as a nothing more than a distraction.

Yes, we may be interacting with our potential soul mates more, but in 2007, more is somehow resulting in less.