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TEXTING ON A DATE - RUDE OR ACCEPTABLE?
March 13, 2011


Gadget etiquette - is it okay to text someone while you are out on a date? Or is it completely rude? Or are there certain guidelines or situations where it is okay to text while on a date? Is today's world so gadget-oriented ... so addicted to gadgets ... that texting or tweeting periodically is considered acceptable? Or is it annoying? And if someone you are on a date with starts doing this - do you call them out on it?

For the most part, texting (or tweeting, or talking on the phone) while on a date is not something that is considered polite. When you are on a date, you should ideally be giving your undivided attention to the
person you are with. Not everyone does this ... not everyone subscribes to the point-of-view I just mentioned ... I know this because I see something different happening quite a bit. Just last night, my girlfriend and I were out to dinner - and I saw a young couple in their early 20s sitting at the dinner table, and each was texting someone ... and it went on for a while! They were in their early 20s, and I'm in my mid 40s ... so maybe age has something to do with the difference in gadget philosophy.

Here is a good set of politically-correct guidelines for use of the cell phone or other messaging device while out on a date:

First Date
Never take the phone out of your pocket or purse, and certainly do not place it on the table (because you may be tempted to either answer your phone, or respond to a text or email). First dates are all about first impressions (or early impressions) ... and that is exactly why you should ideally be paying attention to your date. Turn the ringer to "silent" or "vibrate", too - otherwise you may be tempted to pull out your gadget, and see who is contacting you. If you really MUST see what messages are arriving, you can always go the restroom, and briefly check them ... but don't take too long to get back to your date!

Second and Subsequent Dates
I believe the same is true as for first dates. Leave the gadget in silent mode, and keep it put away. If you are ever tempted to pull out your gadget, and start banging away on it - then ask yourself the following key question: if your date did this in front of you, would you consider it rude or annoying? The answer is - most likely, you would find it bothersome ... so in the spirit of expected reciprocity, the standard guideline should be to keep it put away, and in silent mode (or vibrate, if you absolutely must know that something is incoming).

Exceptions
Under what circumstances is it acceptable to whip out your gadget, and monitor it for activity while you are on a date? I'd say there are a few exceptions - and they are important. If you have children that are at home ... possibly with a baby sitter ... then you might need to watch for a message from the sitter. Ditto if you have an elderly parent that is under some form of 24-hour care - you may need to watch for a message from the caregiver. Sometimes certain professions require a fast response - I'm thinking of doctors, police, firefighters, or anyone who works "on call". If any of these exceptions apply to you, then you should certainly explain up front to your date that you are "on call" (or keeping an eye out for a message from the babysitter or care-giver), and that is why you have your gadget out. But don't respond to just any text (or call) - only respond to those that are critical ... otherwise you are just being rude.

I believe that the above guidelines typically also apply if you are at a family dinner or gathering, or even in a business meeting. I seldom go to church, but if I did then I'd say the same is certainly true there. Movie theaters, too. Where else are gadgets inappropriate? What other "exceptions" are there to these guidelines? If your date whips out his or her gadget, would you call them out on it, and what would you say? Please give us your input in the COMMENT section below!

Related Articles or Forum Discussion Threads
          Boundaries of Texting while on a Date
          Sexting
          What to Avoid on a First Date
          Teenage Nephew - 300 Text Messages per Day?
          The Text Stalker
          Busted by Ersatz Text (confusion about which girlfriend texted him)
          Do You Text Message? How Often?

COMMENTS?
Use our commenting feature below to share your opinion, or to tell us how you would call out your date if he or she started texting during your date. You can always choose to discuss this in the Midlife Forum ...

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