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Texting in public: When it's not OK

People are addicted to their mobile devices and social media, and naturally it spills into the dating world.

People are addicted to their mobile devices and social media, and naturally it spills into the dating world. I see more and more clients for such issues. If what I see on my couch is any indication of what’s going on in the population at large, then we’re in for a major breakdown in communication.

Texting, Facebook and other social networking — although they have great benefits — have bred a culture of social decline. For proof, next time you’re at a party or business function, look around the room and note how many people are buried in electronic devices.



Regarding dating: Frankly, if people can’t stay off their devices for an hour or two, that’s a problem. Of course there are extenuating circumstances that might warrant responding to a text on a date (for instance, if one is on call for work or expecting an important message). But, by and large, out of respect to others, people should adhere to the rule that’s been around for years: Never take calls during dinner. If that isn’t possible, then the person should ask to be excused, explaining that it’s an important text or call. Another strategy is to keep the phone on vibrate or silent, and then check messages when using the restroom.

As for how you can respond to such a situation, if it’s a first or second date, consider this behavior an enlightening moment as you get to know the person. Clearly you have different social-etiquette values that could prove problematic. If, though, it’s someone you’ve gotten to know and like, then let that person know you enjoy his or her company, acknowledge the calls and suggest meeting another time. This subtle yet direct approach should be an obvious wake-up call.

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com

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