Ex-Text Etiquette


    A writer wonders why two different guys she briefly dated bothered to text her Jewish holiday greetings, and whether she has to respond. 

    Dear Miriam,

    I go on a fair number of dates with Jewish guys I meet either online or at Jewish events. Two different men, both of whom I dated very briefly, texted me during Passover to wish me a "happy Pesach." What gives? Isn't that what Facebook is for? Do I have to respond? It's been bugging me for months, so I finally had to ask!

    Ex-Text Etiquette

    Dear Etiquette,

    If you'd gotten a text from just one guy wishing you a happy holiday, I'd be inclined to say that he's probably still interested in you. In that case, you get to decide whether or not you want to respond, thereby indicating that you might be interested, too. While it's theoretically possible that this is the case with both of these guys, no offense, but it seems more likely that there's something else going on.

    I've been out of the dating scene long enough that I'm not super current on all the protocol. Speaking of dating (as in, I'm dating myself here), when I did the majority of mine, texting wasn't as commonplace as it is now, so this question never would have come up. Maybe sending a non-threatening and religion-based text after a short and unsuccessful relationship is a way of saying, "no hard feelings here." Maybe it's a way of trying to build good karma for the next Jewish girl who comes along. Maybe both guys were trying to keep their options open, either to get an invitation to a seder or to get back on your radar in case you want to try again. (And readers, please feel free to enlighten me with your thoughts about this, because, as noted above, I might be too far removed from the texting-meets-dating scene.)

    I also wonder if you projected something during your dates that led these guys to think this is a gesture you'd appreciate. Maybe you mentioned staying friends with previous exes or really enjoying the holidays? Either way, you're under no obligation to reciprocate, though it strikes me as pretty cold not to shoot back a quick, "you, too."

    On the other hand, as I type this, I realize that I may have missed a reason for their texts: They're hard to ignore! If you don't respond with a "Chag sameach," you seem like kind of a jerk. If you do respond, they wouldn't be crazy to assume this means you were happy to hear from them, and they may follow up with a "Want to join me for some matzah ball soup?"

    That eventuality brings me back to my first point: If you want to respond, great, do so. If you prefer not to, that's also totally reasonable. And since these texts came from two different guys, you can also respond differently. If there's one with whom you would consider rekindling a romance, you can respond to him accordingly. If there's one that totally creeps you out, just block his number.

    Facebook is appropriate for holiday wishes for casual acquaintances, but as I've written many times before, Facebook is not a great place to connect with short-term romantic partners. If you were asking about that, I'd tell you not to be Facebook friends with people you dated for a month or less. But if you're already connected to them on social media, you could send them a public post that says, "Happy Passover."

    Your mode of responding indicates a preference for future contact and is the communications equivalent of meeting a blind date in a crowded bar instead of a secluded alley. Either way, with Passover in the past, hopefully you won't hear from any other forgotten flings until Sukkot rolls around. 

    Be well,