September 19, 2018

Dating 101 – Texting

I have said it before and I will say it again, I am not big on texting. Of course there are times when I text, but do not think it is a particularly valuable form of communication. I use texting for quick messages, or to check in, but having full blown discussion by text are not something I do or am interested in.  Texting is for kids. It is also a very bad idea when you are trying to date someone new.

There is too much room for misinterpretation. When you meet someone new you do not know the nuances of their voice, so you can read a text in a tone that was not intended by the writer. Additionally, if you have never met someone, but have exchanged number in the hope of talking, texting is simply stupid. I think it is also a red flag. If a man sends texts rather than call, one has to wonder why.

I do not trust a man who only communicates by text. I cannot think of why a person would not be able to find a minute to make a call. Even if the call is to say they are unable to talk, that call should be made. If he has kids, then he steps away from the kids and makes a call. It takes the same amount of time to text you can’t talk, as it does to call and say the same thing.

Important to note that when you know someone, and have or are starting a relationship, texting is fine because there is less of a chance of misunderstanding what is being written. I text a lot with my son, and my siblings, but we know each other, and we know that while texting is convenient at the moment, a call will follow. To just communicate by text is strange to me and I don’t do it.

I recently met a man online who is big on texting. So much so that 99% of our communication was done over text, and 50% of my texts were to tell him I do not like texting. He didn’t get it, and I kept waiting for him to get it, but he didn’t. He just kept texting. After two weeks, I just stopped responding and so he stopped texting. Two weeks? I know, pathetic.

There was something very compelling about him, and his eyes were so blue I was mesmerized, but I can’t help but wonder why texting was his thing. I thought maybe he had a wife, or a girlfriend, or perhaps a parole officer who is monitoring his phone log. I don’t know, and at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter. He likes to text and I don’t text, so that is the end of that.

Sidebar: When you are in a meeting at work, or at an event, or simply busy with life and cannot talk, getting a text from someone you are interested in is a great thing. Getting a flirty sex, or perhaps a sexy text, can make your day and start your heart fluttering, but those texts can only be good if they are accompanied by phone calls and real life interaction. One does not make sense without the other one. it’s not rocket science gentlemen.

I’m still dating and remain hopeful. I am honestly amazed it is this hard to meet someone I want to invest in. My heart is open, and I am putting myself out there, so it will happen. There will be a man who knows texting is not the only way to get in touch. Hopefully I’ll find him while I still have my own teeth and a healthy sex drive. I am 52, so the chances may be dwindling, but my odds are better if I’m keeping the faith.

Why Huma Abedin stands by her man

Many New Yorkers, as the New York Times notes, are “baffled by the loyalty shown by Huma Abedin” to her transgressing spouse, Anthony Weiner.  I suspect, however, that for many first generation immigrants such as myself, especially those of us with Asian and South Asian roots, she is much less of a puzzle.  I recently participated as a faculty member in a leadership seminar for Asian Pacific academics at Cal Poly Pomona, where we discussed the challenging cultural nexus at which many of us stand as we negotiate between our identities as independent career-minded individuals with a strong sense of self and habits that were a dominant part of our identity, growing up as we did with parents and family members for whom gendered social hierarchies were a given and permeated all aspects of daily life.

Huma’s cultural background may provide some clues to the behavior that many women in New York find baffling, especially because Huma is a woman who has had a notable career and held positions of political prominence nationally.

Though born in the US, Huma is a daughter of Muslim immigrants. Her father is of Indian origin, her mother Pakistani.  Both her parents are educators and holders of doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania. They moved, when Huma was young, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where she grew up, though she returned to the USA for her college education. Certainly, this combination of religious, social, cultural, and international circumstances have made Huma who she is. Precisely which aspects of these fused identities and cultural contexts shaped her is hard to say, but my own experience growing up within a community diverse in its faith, class, caste, and language provides a partial context for understanding Huma’s behavior, though I too, like many New Yorkers, find myself reluctant to endorse or approve of it.

Lest anyone think that my invocation of Huma’s upbringing and background are attempts to see her as playing out a purely subservient role as a Muslim woman from a South Asian background, let me say that I am pointing to something a great deal more complex.  In fact, the line that separates dominance from subservience and authority from servitude is far harder to discern in Asian and South Asian cultures than one might think. And Huma is equally influenced, I am sure, by leaders such as Hillary Clinton.

[Related: The shandah factor: What makes Jewish sex scandals different?]

As a schoolgirl, when I visited my Muslim friend Nazra’s home, I interacted with her four mothers and thought nothing of it. The Muslim Marriage Act in India guides matrimonial practices among Muslims, and Muslim men are legally allowed four wives; the Christian Marriage Act and the Hindu Marriage Act does likewise for Christians and Hindus, respectively.  Even as a child, I understood this difference among religious groups as normal.  Even if Huma’s parents lived a married life such as Christians or Hindus might, could we perhaps understand Huma’s tolerance of her husband’s straying eye within this larger, deeply-held, and long-practiced cultural context that may not have dominated her upbringing but must surely have inflected it? Perhaps. 

The impact of contexts, even ones which one might have rejected decisively, can continue to shape one’s behavior, as I have discovered on many occasions, much to my chagrin.  As I watched Anthony Weiner’s news conference, I could neither take my eyes off Huma nor help but think that she was in a state of deep shock.  Confident, ambitious, and career-driven though she might be, perhaps in this moment of unexpected and unprecedented crisis in her life, the cultural impulse to stand behind her man was instinctive. 

As a woman who wishes to see my Asian and South Asian sisters break out of habits of automatic deference and subservience, I hope, like many New Yorkers, that time will allow Huma to see her husband’s serious problems as ones that she must not facilitate through repeated acts of forgiveness.  Unlike many New Yorkers, however, I think that her behavior might be understood within the context of her complex cultural identity as an independent-minded and American-educated Muslim woman who has led a global life and whose upbringing has been both complex and complicated.


Molly Smith was born in Chenna, India. She earned her undergraduate and master’s degree in English from Madras Christian College, University of Madras, and her doctorate from Auburn University. She has held tenured faculty and administrative posts at St. Louis University, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, Seton Hall University and Wheaton College, and served as the 11th president of Manhattanville College. Smith also serves on the board of trustees at Fairleigh Dickinson University and on the executive committee of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP), where she leads an initiative to develop women as academic leaders globally; she is a representative to the United Nations from IAUP.

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