Posts Tagged ‘etiquette’

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kissing etiquette.

August 20, 2011

Toby and I were having a phone conversation the other night, and I said how I found it strange that my close friend Davina (whom I have known for over 20 years) has recently stopped ending her text messages with kisses. She used to end them with 5 kisses – sometimes “xxxxx”, but sometimes “XxXxX” – this is why the sudden absence of these kisses is noticeable.

I wondered aloud to Toby whether, at 26, Davina now felt that she had to be grown up and not add kisses? There was no issue of a loss of friendship, as her language was still affectionate: she started her most recent text to me with “Hey hunny”. My conversation  with Toby developed into a more general rumination on how many kisses it is appropriate to put at the end of a text message, and the complex set of ‘rules’ (or more precisely, considerations) that we all take into account – often without even thinking about it.

For example, because I love Toby to pieces, I basically hammer the X button until I feel that it is enough – the kisses that I send him can vary anywhere between 5 and 12. Because I text Toby far more than anyone else, at the end of typing messages my finger therefore automatically goes towards the X. This can be a problem thought if I am not texting Toby, and some restraint needs to be exercised. For example, Mike is quite manly and is also 37. So he doesn’t put any kisses at the end of his texts, and I have to make sure that I don’t put any at the end of texts I send to him, as it would be a tiny bit odd – although it’s quite difficult to explain why this is. The same with Trevor, my colleague with whom I car share and get on with well, who is in his late 50s. However, I find it weird not ending a text message with some sort of sign-off, so instead I put a smiley face. Trevor (being quite relaxed) from time to time also uses smiley faces; Mike does not. Out of all of my friends, it is most acceptable to end texts to Mike without any punctuation or sign-off whatsoever. But I find it weird not to use anything at all – the text then feels blunt, functional and lacking in my personality.

But is my personality immature to be using kisses at the end of texts to people other than my close friends or partner? With close friends like Hannah or Karina, I might end my texts with two or three kisses. With Nick, another close friend who is a boy, I might end my texts with one or two kisses – to preserve some semblance of masculinity; and also, because there is only one man who gets all my kisses, and that is Toby. So does this mean that there is a fundamental but extremely subtle hierarchy of respect to family and partners, as well as consideration of gender, level of friendship, and sexuality? For example – it feels more acceptable to put kisses on the end of texts to Nick than to Mike, as Nick is gay whereas Mike is straight. But surely that is stupid? On the rare occasion that I accidentally end texts to Mike with an x or two, he has never said anything or been remotely bothered.

Something that Toby pointed out to me is that just as I do with him, he usually leaves me a lot of kisses at the end of his texts to me. But very occasionally, I only get two or three – and me being me, I notice this and wonder if there is any reason for it. I found out through our conversation – because I have an iPhone, I have no character count on my texts. But Toby’s phone still has a character count; and so, to avoid going over the character limit into what is technically a “new page” of the text message, sometimes he will only have two or three characters left, which means that I get less kisses than I am accustomed to. So another thing that I have to remember is that we all have different phones and different contracts / allowances.

To friends of mine who are reasonably good friends (for example, Mike’s wife Caroline, or my colleagues Amy and Charlotte at work), I will end my texts with one kiss; to people whom I don’t really know that well, or am texting for specific information, there are no kisses to preserve a business-like approach. But as I grow older, and in theory more mature, should I be ending my text messages in a more perfunctory way? I don’t even know if Davina has had this conscious thought – all I’ve noticed is a change, and I am just projecting onto it. But it triggered an interesting discussion, and a realisation that there are a lot of subtle things that we consider, almost automatically, when we send text messages to our friends, partners, colleagues and so on. As a 25-year-old man, am I too old to be ending my texts with kisses? Or should I just carry on, be myself and not think about it so much? Surely this is overthinking something very simple; but as I’ve illustrated, the etiquette of kisses on texts is deceptively complicated. And a lot of the mystery was dispelled through an actual real-time voice conversation, which possibly speaks volumes… At the end of the day, text messages can be an excellent form of quick and convenient communication, but shades of meaning and levels of affection can be conveyed much more accurately and honestly through tone of voice and the spontaneity of a real-time conversation.

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creepin’.

January 21, 2010

So I’ve been seeing T for two and a half weeks now, and I’m slowly starting to get over my apparent fear of being with someone and letting someone in.  I had some fantastic advice from a multitude of friends, which was just to take things as slowly as I feel comfortable (and verbalise this if necessary, though I haven’t felt the need to yet), and not to feel guilty about not wanting to rush nor about keeping this blog private from him, because this is all very new and I don’t have to reveal every facet of myself right from the jump.  I think that it makes sense to keep some stuff back for me.  I’m still scared of what happens in the future, but as long as I just deal with right now, that’s fine for the moment.  Mike, astute as ever, said that “you seem to enjoy being with him a lot more than you enjoy the thought of being with him”.  I took that to heart, because it’s totally true, and realised that as long as I don’t overthink any of this dating / seeing each other / relationship etiquette, then I can enjoy myself and just relax.  I guess that I just get scared of calling someone my “boyfriend” and someone calling me the same, giving us that status and that link, with which comes a whole load of responsibility that I don’t really need to be dealing with just yet.

So we’ve been seeing a lot of each other, eating, drinking and getting jiggy.  It’s all good and I’m enjoying the cuddles, the conversations, the various excursions and my growing competence at Mario Kart Wii.  But between seeing T and socialising with my other friends (I had a wonderful afternoon of epic shopping and eating with Karina on Tuesday) I’m not spending much time at home with my parents.  I have absolutely no problem with this, but I feel like not only is it obvious that I don’t really want to spend time with them, but that I have to lie about who I’m with when it comes to T.  I mean, the past few days I’ve dropped his name to introduce a new person to my mother’s ears but inevitably I have to make up excuses about who I’m seeing or where I’m going.  When I got my tattoo done, I was “meeting Deena”.  When Mike & I were going to the tattoo studio to book my next one / enquire about his first one, we were “going to uni”.  When I stayed over at T’s house a couple of weeks ago, I got “carried away watching Gavin & Stacey at Hannah’s house”.  I’m 24 years of age and I feel I have to lie, not only about the fact that I might be having actual sex with an actual boy, but about simple, innocent things just to save questions from my parents on things about which they either would disapprove, or which they are suddenly intrigued by.

The logic of all this is based on my parents’ “all or nothing” approach. Usually, they couldn’t give a fuck about me, but occasionally they hitch upon an idea, a friendship or a thing I’ve started to do regularly, and interrogate me about it.  I think they think that they are showing interest, but I would rather they left me alone.  If they genuinely cared, they would ask me how I am more often, and make more small talk to find out how I’m feeling and what I’ve been doing, rather than suddenly remembering to ask every blue moon and then deciding to catch up on each facet of my life.  Most of the time they respect my privacy, but I have to lie to protect myself from the moods they have when they feel like being beyond nosey.  It’s self-preservation.  I remember mentioning Mike around the house when we first started being friends in September / October.  It wasn’t until just before Christmas that my mother dared to ask me a little bit about him, despite the fact that I saw him most days and sometimes he’d pick me up from home and we’d go and have a drink, smoke and a chat (one time this happened, my father stayed up until I got home at midnight, and then promptly went to bed as soon as I got in the door – why?!).  My parents both blatantly thought that I was having an affair with him, despite the fact that he is married with a child (something I’m sure I mentioned quite early on).  And yet, suddenly after Mike says hello to my mum when he drops me home one afternoon, she can’t stop asking about him! “How’s Mike’s road with all this snow and ice?” “What’s Mike’s surname?” “Have you heard from Mike?” “It’s really good of Mike to pick you up and drop you home.” I feel like, why are you suddenly interested?  You’ve gone from one extreme to another, it’s totally unnatural and invasive, and to be honest I preferred it when you just kept your mouth shut and ignored me, no matter what you thought of me.  I don’t like having my privacy invaded (one reason why I guess I’m finding it hard to adjust to this whole dating business) and yet I feel I have to answer these questions (followed by swift exit once I sense a barrage approaching) because I’m the son and she’s the mother; because I’m living under her roof (although I pay rent and am therefore entitled to take refuge in my room); because I haven’t done anything wrong and therefore have nothing to hide.  But I feel it’s unfair that when she is in a mood for whatever reason – even if it’s nothing to do with me – she will not speak even to be civil (which I think is childish), and yet I’m not allowed to have my privacy and I’m not afforded the same privilege of silence when I don’t want to talk.

So I’ve decided, sadly, that it’s easier just to lie and conceal certain things I’m doing and people I’m seeing to avoid the possibility of my parents taking interest.  I don’t care what they think about me being out all the time and going to my room as soon as I get in the door.  I don’t want to eat my father’s identikit hot cooking, I don’t want to watch TV programmes in which I have no interest (I am not able to watch anything unless both of my parents have gone to bed) and I don’t want to have to constantly listen out for conversations where I might be required to take part, only to have my point of view ignored or refuted.  I have my lovely friends, I have a decent job, I like uni, I enjoy seeing T, I’ve got plenty of positive things in my life.  I no longer need them to keep me down.  That’s why I’m creepin’.