There’s no bigger turn off than a text full of typos: LUCY HOLDEN explains why language is so important in the pursuit of love
- Recent research has found that nearly 70 percent of singles are “bothered” by poorly written messages, especially narration, abbreviations and poor grammar
- Lucy Holden compares contemporary dating to the handwritten letters of the 80s
- The UK-based journalist has high standards when it comes to grammar and spelling
An attractive man who likes rock music is chatting with me in a bar as his friends pull on his sleeve to say they will be late to a party. With a remorseful smile he takes my number and the next day I get a text. First, he admits that he forgot my name. Not the most romantic opener… still, I wave off his apology because he seems sharp. But his next move really squeezed my face with confusion.
“Ma bad,” he replies. Is his mother sick? Of course I know that he only uses text language for ‘my fault’. But I sigh. Because normally textspeak just means a guy is lazy or illiterate – and there are few quicker ways to lose interest.
I am not alone. A recent survey found that nearly 70 percent of singles are “turned off” by poorly written messages, especially text language, abbreviations, and poor grammar or spelling.
In my case, it’s even worse because I can’t let the bombardment of typos contrast with my parents’ enduring sweet love story.
A recent survey found that nearly 70 percent of single people are “turned off” by poorly written messages, especially narration, abbreviations and poor grammar
They met in the late 1980s after my father placed a carefully curated ad on the dating page of Time Out magazine.
He then used the same filter for his answers that I use over 30 years later. Of the two dozen handwritten answers he received, he first threw out the “very badly spelled answers, or those that looked like they were written by a six-year-old.”
The fourth (and last) person he met of only six letters left was my mother. I didn’t know about this until I was 26 because they were too embarrassed to admit it, the same way couples who met on Tinder in the beginning. Instead, they told me that they met in a pub.
But from a 2022 perspective, the story is even more romantic. To this day my father claims he can’t remember what he wrote in his ad, but my mother keeps it in her jewelery box and tells me it started: ‘There is life in London – would you want to live me?’
He was planning to move from the capital to Cornwall and wanted to meet someone who could join him. His interests were listed as “Schubert, TS Eliot, and kids (none yet),” and when I thought of him throwing out all the misspelled letters, I realized that was an interest of his, too: someone who cares just as much about language. gave as he did.
Lucy Holden recalls how she once got a text from a Royal Marine she was dating that said, ‘Hdy juts going to take a shower brb.’ She says texting was exhausting
It’s a rule I live by after a rather bitter experience. I understand that mass digital communication requires quick, crisp responses, but I don’t want to sit and stare at my phone trying to figure out what someone is trying to say.
A text I got from a Royal Marine I dated very briefly said ‘Hdy juts going to take a shower brb’.
Texting him was exhausting: everything had to be decoded and translated. It was also extremely unappealing to imagine seeing someone so weak (despite going to Eton).
Language is important in the pursuit of true love
According to Google, that phrase could have meant “how dare you” (hdy), “just” (right, an entry-level misspelling if I’ve ever seen one) and “be right back” (brb).
I don’t need conquests to have an English degree like I do, but there’s no point dating a guy with so little interest in words that he can’t even type some of them.
Language is so important in the pursuit of love. The way you speak and write says so much about how curious and interested in the world you are. Writing a half-decent message with humor or spark, rather than firing pointless nonsense, is also a way of showing you care.
I recently went on a date with a man who showed an almost exaggerated love of words. I joked that it sounded like a dictionary and he admitted that people at school asked him if he had read everything. He had, he whispered.
Honestly it was the best date I’ve been on in ages.