Deciphering The End-Of-Date “I’ll Text You”

All the things it means because it definitely doesn’t mean that.

Photo by rawpixel.

Most of my dates are unfortunate, so when I go on a good one, I notice. In an effort to retain a modicum of optimism and positivity around dating, I allow myself to enjoy the fact that I just enjoyed a date. It is rare and should be savored, like a really boss steak.

The thing I’ve learned I’ll never know is if when I think I’m on a good date, my date thinks the same thing. I’ve been doing this dance for ten years and either I’m a terrible judge of human response, or these guys are honing their acting chops at Juilliard before meeting me for two drinks in the East Village.

On my last good date, I think I was so astonished by it that my internal compass was askew. I didn’t spend the entire time mentally calculating my exit while asking a man questions about his dreams of a homestead upstate, instead I just conversed, and enjoyed. Imagine that. Then at the end of the date, we walked a few blocks in the same direction, said goodnight, and as I walked away he said, “I’ll text you.”

Silly me, glittering from an evening I didn’t hate, presumed that the phrase actually meant what the words have purported to mean in the English language. I know you’re on the edge of your couch here, so I’ll confirm your suspicions that he didn’t text. And that’s fine. This sea is nothing if not a renewable source of fish. But it did get me thinking about why he bothered to throw out an “I’ll text you,” when he could have just walked away from the date expectation-free. So below, I’ve worked out a linguistic analysis of what “I’ll text you” really means, I think we can all agree I’ve done good work.

  1. I’m never going to text you. I know I’m not going to text you, I do not have any interest in you, I’m just gonna lie and make you think otherwise because I’m the devil.
  2. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to text you. Yes, ladies, it is our job to bear the brunt of his uncertainty. Aren’t we the lucky gals? Rather than leaving us expecting nothing with the chance to be delighted later when he texts, or when we text and he responds, we’re left expecting communication that may or may never arrive. Don’t bother looking down at your phone, it was just breaking news from CNN about our world’s impending doom.
  3. Goodnight. A simple salutation! No more committal than an acquaintance tossing a “see you around” at the end of a chance meeting. I shudder to think that this is now how we’re bidding each other farewell, but I’m a woman of the world and I’ll allow it.
  4. Abort! It isn’t wildly out of range to think that “I’ll text you” is a simple escape hatch, the easiest route of exit. It of course begs the question, am I something that needs to be fled? With haste? My goodness.
  5. I totally planned to text you but a sinkhole formed underneath my apartment and swallowed me and all of my possessions whole. Unlikely, but preferable.

The truth is he didn’t care. He didn’t care if he left me expecting further contact, he just cared if he walked away feeling like a good guy. Because when he transformed into a bad guy, I was alone, and he didn’t have to see it. He didn’t have to be uncomfortable for even one moment, he could instead leave me hanging for three days. Because he knows that in this delicate world of dating, where even the slightest look or gesture can repulse us and snap the fragile strings keeping modern dating together, the last thing I’m going to say when he says I’ll text you is…“Really?”

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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