I’ve described in an earlier post just how much I learned last year through dating and I can add Marco Polo Text Messaging to the list.

As a kid we played this in the pool… I’d close my eyes and say “Marco?” others would say “Polo!” The objective was to move about the pool – eyes closed – and catch someone merely by their response. Marco Polo Text Messaging is a game whereby the sender is trying to elicit a response from the receiver; to “catch” something with the initial text message, if you will.

Oftentimes the game is quite innocent:

Sender: Hey – how’s your day going?

Receiver: Pretty good – getting a lot done. You?

However, there are times it can become subtly manipulative depending on the relationship:

Sender: I’ve been thinking about you a lot today…

Receiver: <long silence> Me too…

If there is an existing intimacy between the two parties the conversation really might be part of the usual back and forth – but if this is in the first couple weeks of dating… eeeeh.

Then, there’s the ambiguous text:

Sender: Hey

Receiver: Um… hey

I’ve found a theme among friends whereby lobbing a text over that proverbial net to get a response becomes a habit. We know from positive conditioning, it’s very easy to get into and a habit that’s hard to break. But there’s an important reason to fight that: the text is just a text. We attach qualities and attributes to it that may not really be there – particularly if we are playing Marco Polo. All in all, playing the game isn’t a bad thing, unless it leads to denial and asking others to cosign.

Only I know when I’m playing Marco Polo or when I’m in the moment and sending a message of authenticity. I know when my head, my heart and my gut are all in alignment. Sometimes I need human contact, sometimes I need to vent and sometimes I just need to know someone out there in the stratosphere is listening… for any and all of those reasons I’ll send the text. Today I know why I’m sending it – and that any response is just a response. And even no response… is a response. 🙂