In order to physically get with a person, it helps to meet in person, OK? This is not rocket sex science, it is a fact. So if you have met someone you like, do this one simple trick: Try texting them and asking them to hang out with you at a specific place on a specific day at a specific time. Come on guys, you got this. Or don’t you?

Lots of people are terrible, hamfisted texters in the game of love—we can’t place all the blame on men’s shoulders. But if most single women are still leaving it to men to ask them out, and it seems universally agreed upon that men are uniquely terrible at using text to advance game—there is a Straight White Boys Texting for chronicling this but, notably, no Straight White Girls Texting—then perhaps we should not be surprised that the bar is so low that single women have simply resigned themselves to dealing with a morale-squandering level of communication skills from dudes.

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In an interview with comedian Aziz Ansari about his new book, Modern Romance, that bemoans the modern dating culture of too many choices combined with too high standards, Ansari tells the NY Post that he stumbled across a Holy Grail sort of truth about dating after conducting hundreds of interviews and sitting in on numerous focus groups with NYU sociologist and co-author Eric Klinenberg:

In one discussion with a group of women about texts they receive from guys, Ansari recounts, “They said most of the texts are, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ ‘What are you up to?’ ‘Are you doing anything tonight?’ ”

“I realized that inviting someone to a specific thing at a specific time — that made women’s vaginas explode in our interviews.”

Or at least instantly self-lubricate, otherwise known as “splash.”

Not to so sound old-fashioned or anything, but duh? We’re talking about the lowest common denominator of logic: If you want to get laid, or greatly increase your chances of getting laid, you would do well to suggest a time and a place for meeting someone to have sex or conversation or a wrestling match or a staring contest, whatever it is you do to woo. It conveys real-life, in-person, actual interest. You’ll need that to consummate the attraction, even if it’s only the consummating you’re interested in.

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I’m not sure why this is such challenge, or why it’s viewed as counter in any way to the modern Great Millennial Chill Zone we are always hearing about—that frosty tundra of perfectly good vibes that may or may not ever lead to anything. When you read yet another thing about how Millennials are keeping it so low-key as to not exist, please remember: These are still people we’re talking about. They have not lifehacked their way out of the desire to mate. People still want to get with each other. You still need to be moderately charming—moderately!—to make this go.

But even if all you want to do is chill no-strings, you can’t leave it up to an entirely fatalistic system of running into each other forever to ensure this happens. In 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan’s quaint little bookstore was ACROSS THE STREET from the Fox Books evil chain run by Tom Hanks and they still had to meet first in a chat room, and guess what? They still had to make a plan to meet in person to find out exactly to what extent they hate-loved each other. And that’s a Nora Ephron movie, so you know it’s just like your life could maybe be if you had more money.

My incredibly simple point is that everyone in the history of ever who got together eventually had to make a plan at some point to keep that going. So: Make a plan. Make a plan. Make a plan. Cool chill buds make planz.

But now let’s talk about what is happening in text messages all over the world instead of plans. In an excerpt at The Guardian, Ansari writes:

One firm takeaway from all our interviews with women is that most dudes out there are straight-up bozos. These were intelligent, attractive, amazing women and they all deserved better. Some people say that it doesn’t matter what you text someone. If they like you, they like you. After interviewing hundreds of singles, I can scientifically confirm that this is total bullshit.

Agreed. Ansari distinguishes between good texting and bad texting. Bad texting was all the same, in that it lacked anything like imagination, humor, creativity, a working brain or a beating heart. Bad texts have a lot of endless back and forth, Ansari writes, with no actual intent ever made clear to see the person in real life, and a slow painful death by mundane banter (one example was actually about what laundry detergent the person used). Or if they have good intentions—”Hey, we should get a drink”—they’re easily cowed by a lack of prompt follow-up, and the conversation stays in no-plans purgatory. Whole lotta conversational blue balls is what it sounds like. Another big pet peeve was consistently bad grammar. But by far the biggest problem was the generic “hey.” Ansari writes:

Want to know what’s filling up the phones of nearly every single woman? It’s this: “Hey,” “Hey!” Heyyy!!” “Hey what’s going?” “Wsup,” “Wsup!” “What’s going on?” “Whatcha up to?” It seems like a harmless message to send, and I’ve sent a good number of them in my own dating life. However, seeing it from the other side is eye-opening. When your phone is filled with that stuff, generic messages come off as super dull and lazy. They make the recipient feel like she’s not very special or important to you.

On the rare occasion that plans were actually made, there was another circle of hell to navigate—figuring out whether this kooky thing you are on is a date or not. In another piece at the Washington Post, we learn:

“The lack of clarity over whether the meet-up is even an actual date frustrates both sexes to no end,” Ansari writes, “but since it’s usually the guys initiating, this is a clear area where men can step it up.” For an example of how to avoid hang-out vs. date ambiguity, Ansari writes about a woman who met a guy at a loud party: “After I left he texted me, ‘Hi [name redacted], this is [first name, last name], we’re going on a date.’ His confidence, straightforwardness, and refreshingly gentlemanly approach (vs. skirting around ‘let’s hang out some time’) made for an incredible first impression and had a lasting effect.”

In fairness, if people are often getting to know each other a little on text first now, rather than immediately committing to an in-person deal for someone you haven’t had the chance to establish good rapport with, I think it’s OK to not jump right in and ask someone for a date or hookup. Other fine reasons for not setting a time to see someone: Maybe someone is afraid of being rejected. Maybe the jury is still out on whether they think you are a cool person. But eventually these are all moot points and it’s either time to move it forward or cut it off, right?

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And please, for the love of God, try to be witty! Just a fucking little! For posterity! For all of us! For love! For lust! It goes without saying that all the good texting Ansari chronicles, which restored his faith in humanity, involved the same tenets of any good back-and-forth:

  • Making specific plans
  • Using callbacks or references to things the person actually said to show you were listening when they spoke
  • Humorous tone

Of course none of that guarantees anything. You still need to be compelled after that to keep it going. Plenty of interactions with potential die out for no reason and you often never know why the vibe never got off the text ground. Personally, I have always believed in the idea of being compelled. Maybe technically the better word is impelled, because that implies there is some degree of choice, whereas compelled does not, but hey, all love stories benefit from a little spin. Either way, long before the snappy He’s Just Not That Into You meter for all interest entered our lives, I was living just fine on Are You Compelled Or Not, which, while admittedly not as snappy, is as good a system as any.

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It goes like this: If someone is compelled to know you, they will try to know you. They will want to see you. And you will feel like they want to see you because (dun dun dun) they will try to see you. And vice versa.

Sure, some people really need to feel they are chasing someone, or being chased. Some people really do this without knowing, because they lack awareness but operate on less than healthy notions about intimacy, and have started to feel mostly compelled when people begin to pull away. Some people will absolutely string you along for a while. Others will try to keep you as an option as long as possible because it’s flattering, and they’re bored.

But if you’re looking for a good thing, you know what that feels like: When two people meet, and like each other so much that the rapport is pretty magic, they—rather than waste time fucking around or thinking about romantic laws of supply and demand—just get right in it, and want it, and their actions line up with their stated feelings. Anything less than this mutually felt rapport is a bad fucking idea and it outs itself sooner or later in frustration and disappointment. I’m not even talking about the relationship leading to marriage, or even going steady, or anything other than mutual interest. You know, the kind it takes to meet up in person eventually?

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When it’s too hard to get with someone, take note. It’s probably going to be a big waste of your time. You can spend that texting, certainly. Data plans are limitless. But your patience for dull conversation is surely not.


Contact the author at tracy.moore@jezebel.com.

Image via Comedy Central