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Special Report: Texting Changing the Dating Game

Updated: 11/06/2013 10:50 PM
Created: 11/06/2013 9:00 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Throughout the generations, parts of dating have always looked the same. Couples holding hands and sharing conversation.

The honeymoon stage is also easy to spot. When I asked Sam Cook and Kinsie Stifter how long they had been dating this was their answer.

"A week and a half," Cook laughed.

We found Cook and Stifter hanging out in the student lounge at UMD. The pair enjoys taking walks, ATV rides and sharing meals. All those scenarios are pretty timeless when it comes to dating, but like most college kids their romance started 21st century style with a text.

"She texted me and said, 'I'm in town for the weekend, do you want to do something?'" Cook said.

"Slowly after that, we texted a little bit and texted a couple times during the week," Stifter said.

These days dating takes place in cyber space. Forget the flowers and opening line, all you need is a charged up cell phone battery.

"I think it's made it a little more open and kind of constant," UMD senior Kimberly Newton said.

"It's different," UMD senior Justin Grossinger said. "It's not as personable as it used to be I don't think."

With a text, some said there's no need to be nervous because there's no awkward silence if nobody is talking.

"You can kind of hide in a bubble with technology," Grossinger said. "You don't have to worry about whether you might say something wrong because you can auto edit."

"I like to write the text then erase it and start it over 50 times, like any girl," UMD senior Hailey Carlson said.

When you finally press send, the game has only begun.

Technology has left many needing a reboot to get an update on the dating rules.

How long do you wait to text back?

"If people read into how fast I responded, then it's probably not worth it," Newton said.

"If you say something and they don't respond for so long, it's like okay I have to wait that long too," UMD junior Lauren Thorson said.

How many times a day should you text someone you're interested in?

"I feel like it has made relationships a lot more needy," Cook said.

Is it ever okay to call it quits with just a few characters?

"I'd be mad, super mad," UMD senior Ben Dufault said. "I think there is a time and a place for texting, but ending and starting relationships is not one of them."

"If you want to break up with me, be a man do it in person," Carlson said. "We can have a fight and break up the good old fashioned way."

For many, the old fashioned way is not too hard to remember, but things are different today.

"I think texting and technology or social media has changed relationships in a lot of different ways," UMD Associate Professor Kathy Dowell said.

Dowell is a psychology professor and she said texting isn't all bad.

"They can quickly text or find them on Facebook and get that quick emotional connection without a lot of effort, which is a good thing," Dowell said. "The downside could be when you try to extend that easy access to that person to try to tackle complicated relationship things via text or social media. Then, that doesn't go so well."

It's also hard to get to know someone using text talk.

"You're not going to learn things that make them actually laugh, you're going to learn the things that make them go LOL," Carlson said. "Let's face it; 99 percent of the time LOL is done with a straight face."

While things have changed, don't give up on our text-savvy generation. Chivalry isn't dead...yet.

Many young people are more like their parents than they probably like to admit, especially when it comes to that first date.

"I'd prefer someone to ask me in person," Newton said. "I think it shows a lot of character and that you actually do care."

While Cook and Stifter's relationship started in the palm of their hands, when they made it official they put down the phones.

"I told her we were going to go grouse hunting," Cook said. "I asked her can you get me a couple shells out of the box and in the box I had written on a note, 'Will you go out with me?'"

"I read it again to make sure I read it right," Stifter said.

While it's only been two weeks, it's clear no matter the latest smartphone, traditional romance will always be in style.

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