I was out with a group of girlfriends last week when one of them received a text from a guy she'd gone on a few dates with. It read, "Great time last night ;)" — with the winking emoticon. Apparently after every single text he sends (and sometimes midtext, too), he includes an emoticon.
One of our friends thinks he's just being friendly, but another is convinced he's downright weird. And the friend-in question is not sure whether to accept his request to go on another date. "It's too weird!" she says. "I'm not sure what he's trying to do, but it's sort of creeping me out."
I've covered a few text-etiquette rules, like if it's appropriate to get out of a date via text and how to decode post-date texts and IMs, but what about the little day-to-day exchanges you tend to have with a potential love interest? What do all of those smiley faces mean? For more of my emoticon advice, read more.
Generally, you seem to feel emoticons are fine for personal use but not for professional. What about dating? I can see where my friend is coming from, and I've definitely decided to check myself when it comes to text and instant-message emoticon use. Turns out I use them more often than I should! I received some solid emoticon advice recently: "Don't ever use an emoticon smiley face with a guy you don't want to make out with."
I asked a few guy friends, and their answers varied from the seemingly obvious: "He types a smiley face because he's actually smiling," to the sort-of charming: "He really likes you and is trying to be endearing," to the less virtuous, "He thinks you're into him and is trying to charm you into another date."
If his emoticon use really bothers you, you could always address it . . . but risk him feeling rejected. Until he starts adding the spoken equivalent of emoticons into regular conversation (think: "I'm sorry you can't hang out later. Sad face."), it's probably not worth getting worked up over. If you simply can't take it anymore, you could always try calling him instead. Have you ever dated an overzealous emoticoner? Is it ever cute? Or just annoying?
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