I think it’s safe to say we all know the ‘dance’ of dating has changed a lot since the days when it was called courting and people weren’t allowed to touch each other without the permission of their Fathers. I’m talking Pride and Prejudice times here. I have recently found out that even a touch of the hand was considered a highly forward move and could set any girl’s heart a-flutter.
The thing that got me thinking about this was that recently, in two separate conversations with friends, the subject of a ‘x’ at the end of a text message was brought up. The first occasion was whilst talking with a friend about a guy she’d just met in a pub. She liked the look of the guy and spent a while chatting to him, and when her and her male friend were leaving the pub, they asked it the guy she’d just met would like to come back to hers for a few more drinks. Her male friend (just a friend) was asked to do a little digging into the new guy’s history and suss out whether he was a keeper or a chucker. So she went to the loo and when she came back the new guy had agreed to come back to her’s for a few. So they spent the evening chatting and getting to know each other. Then on leaving they swapped numbers. The next day he texted and asked whether she’d be back at the pub the next week (he worked there). It was all very straight forward except for a ‘x’ at the end of the text. Now my friend’s very straight down the line. She doesn’t tend to over think things and will be very straight forward with you. Except this threw her, and got us all into a bit of a debate. Should she write a ‘x’ back, when she replied?
Now I’ve got a bit of an issue with the ‘x’ or typed kiss. It’s all these social network’s fault. You may have noticed it with your friends on Facebook particularly. My friends are all very flippant with their kisses on the ends of their status updates. For example; “just off to walk the dog x” or “about to cook chili x” or “all men are bastards and I hate my life x”. Get the idea? It really grates on me. The sad thing is, I’ve found myself, on occasion, having to stop myself doing the same thing….. oh dear.
Anyway, this was relevant to my friend because we had to decide whether he was the kind of person who automatically writes ‘x’ at the end of everything, or if he was doing it in a flirty way (or even in just a friendly way). In the times of Austen an ‘x’ at the end of a letter would have probably promised marriage. We decided that she should ignore the kiss and just reply how she would normally, whether she put a ‘x’ or not should be different from what she would have written to anyone else.
Another friend brought this up the other day when she was talking about men. Men in general, she’d worked out, are not that dissimilar to us women. In fact they can be more neurotic and pedantic. She illustrated this by telling me about an argument she’d had with one of her house mates. He’d told her he could tell when she was pissed off at him because she wouldn’t put ‘xx’ at the end of her text messages. She thought back to the text he was referring to, and remembered that she had, in that split second, deliberately not added the ‘xx’ because she was in a mood with him, and she hadn’t felt like sharing the love at that moment. And it was the fact that he had noticed the absence of kisses, that troubled her the most. He was right about her motive (despite her not really taking much thought over the decision at the time), but it got her into thinking about all his text messages where he hadn’t put kisses either. Before this she wouldn’t have thought into it, but now she realised he was as analytical and deliberate as her.
So this is the power of the ‘x’ in a text or email. It feeds our neurosis. A quick simple text, sent on the spur of a thought, gone in a flash…. and then obsessed over for hours (sometimes by more than one person!). The simple art of courting/dating made complicated by one little letter.
That certainly gives new meaning to the ‘x’ factor.