A Query: Why Are Men So Different Over Text Vs. In Real Life?

Sydney Kaplan
A Query: Why Are Men So Different Over Text Vs. In Real Life?
Photo: Adobe. Design: Cierra Miller/STYLECASTER.

If quarantine forcing me to rely on dating apps to meet people has taught me one thing, it’s that having a conversation with someone over text message provides absolutely zero insight into how a real-life conversation with this same person might go. Who knew?! Not me, apparently. Let’s back up and see how I came to this staggering (perhaps very obvious to some, but I don’t want to hear it!!) realization. 

I’ve known I was moving to Los Angeles for a while, so like the ambitious go-getter that I am, I set my dating apps to my new LA location about three weeks prior to moving. I wasn’t exactly trying to date at home in Bostonhaving to ask my parents for the car for an outdoor date in 30-degree weather isn’t exactly my speed—so I mentally left Boston and was already in LA early, taking long strolls along the beach and dating a hot surfer guy whose first name might be Brody and last name might be Jenner. Just, you know, in my head. 

So began my LA dating app quest! There were two guys on Hinge that stood out to me right from the get-go; let’s call them Tech Guy (because he works in tech, genius) and BH guy (who is from Beverly Hills). Tech Guy was the first to message me, and not only were his pictures hot, but he seemed super outgoing and enthusiastic. There were lots of exclamation points, jokes, long paragraphs and questions when we spoke, and when I gave him my number, he texted me immediately to make a plan.

He had noted in his dating profile that he was the middle child of eleven siblings, which I mistakenly (spoiler alert) assumed would translate into “I have a larger than life personality,” because, like, don’t you need one to stand out in such a large family? I was sure he’d match my energy on our date, so I couldn’t wait to meet him.

I’m a huge fan of sarcastic and witty banter, but I’m also a huge fan of compliments.

BH guy, on the other hand, was quite the opposite of Tech Guy. His opening line on Hinge was pretty good and showed that he actually read my profile (“So what did you get suspended for? I’ve been up all night trying to think of the reason”), but the conversation kind of dwindled from there when I noticed he wasn’t asking many questions or really engaging. 

Still, he asked me out and let me know that he was thinking about me and excited to meet up. Umm, so cute??? That last text actually got me excited to meet him, despite the fact that our conversation was meh and that I had no clue what he looked like from his photos (when will men understand that wearing sunglasses/a hat in every photo doesn’t work in their favor?).

I’m a huge fan of sarcastic and witty banter, but I’m also a huge fan of compliments, naturally. So even though BH Guy and I didn’t have great banter, I let it go because it was clear that he was already obsessed with me. Kidding, kind of. 

The morning after my flight to LA landed, BH Guy texted me. “Good morning. I’m glad to know you’re nearby :)”. Cute, but it didn’t sound like he had any intention of making a plan with me. Why text me that, now that I’m finally in LA, without solidifying actual plans?! If I’ve learned anything from my previous dating experiences, it’s to look at a man’s actions, not his words. Because I didn’t feel like he was taking any action, I responded with something nice and then moved onto my other prospectTech Guy.

You can tell everything about a person by the way they greet you.

I had plans to meet up with Tech Guy after quarantining for two weeks in LA. We decided to go for a walk around a park in the Marina and I was super excited; he was definitely my frontrunner! I took an Uber to the park around 6:00 p.m. and it was already pitch black outside. I arrived first and was waiting for him when, all of a sudden, I heard a “hey” from behind me.

I swear, you can tell everything about a person by the way they greet you. Actually, if anyone wants to conduct a study on this, I’ll sponsor it with funny memes! LA is expensive! Anyway, I digress—this “hey” was backed by some of the most intimidating and odd energy I’d ever felt. A far cry from the upbeat, friendly guy I was expecting based on our texts. He didn’t even smile! Tech Guy was just so…stiff? Which in turn made me super uncomfortable. 

We began our walk, and though this guy was intimidating AF and not exactly outgoing, I could tell he was still a really caring, interesting person. He was wildly smart but also humble, with an edge of rebelliousness I could learn to appreciate. By the end of the date, I was (of course) enamored. Tech Guy was hard to get! I couldn’t figure him out for the life of me, and I was dying to know more! We said our goodbyes and he told me to text him if I had any questions about LA. Naturally, I never heard from him again. Welcome to Los Angeles!!!

I was super disappointed about how everything with Tech Guy went down, and mostly just sad that I still didn’t know much about him. What was it like growing up with 10 siblings? Would you consider yourself scary, or just shy? By the time BH Guy texted me the next week to make plans—it turned out he had had COVID, which was why he didn’t solidify plans in the first place—I was over the whole idea. I had already been on one bad date in LA, and BH Guy seemed so buttoned-up over text.

It was just something about his syntax that made him seem too formal. He was saying things like, “How does Saturday morning look for you, Sydney?” and, “Curious where you live. I would be happy to host us for drinks”. He was using commas? And saying words like host? I know I’m harsh (not exactly breaking news) and that he was just being communicative, but I felt like I was texting an 85-year-old man. Still, I needed a distraction from Tech Guy, so I made a plan with BH Guy to take a walk.

Had I known not to judge people based on their texting style, I’d probably be married in NYC by now.

When it came time for our date, I begrudgingly waited for BH Guy on the corner (I didn’t want someone I thought I’d end up hating to know where I lived!). I was kind of dreading the whole thing, but still felt proud of myself for being semi-open-minded. And it totally paid off: When BH Guy pulled up in his car and waved at me with a big smile, I could tell right away that he was normal, and definitely did not have the demeanor of an 85-year-old man. Whaaaat?! Plus, he was super attractive! Also whaaaaat?! It turned out that he had the personality I had assumed Tech Guy would have. Had I known not to judge people based on their texting style, I’d probably be married in NYC by now, I thought. Ha! 

I felt very comfortable with BH Guy. He was friendly, outgoing, a good listener and seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me. Was I slightly overwhelmed when he told me he was looking to buy a house in an area with a good school system for his future children? Yes. But, I’m trying here, and over-eagerness is better than the usual unconcerned, unemotional f*ckboys I’m always dating. Right?

I agreed to go on another date with BH Guy the very next day, and I’m so glad I did. That said, I’m writing this story in real time, so neither of us has any idea how this is going to end (we love a mystery!!!). Either way, I learned a very important lesson here, which is to hold out on judgement until you actually meet people IRL when assessing someone’s personality. You may end up very surprised, just like I was with Tech Guy and BH Guy! May their legacy live on, and I hope you put this lesson into practice the next time you’re swiping right.

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