Intent vs. Impact


Let's get real, most of us are quick to judge these days. Rarely do we take the time to give people any latitude. We immediately assume the worst or are simply too busy to even take a second to try and understand where the people we interact with are coming from. 

Nowhere is this more clear than in online dating. I find more and more that the most benign message can be ragingly misinterpreted and create a downward spiral of texts that spin out of control. Both sexes are so quick to generalize a text or message with "ugh, another man who is too suggestive" or "another girl who expects to be wined and dined." The problem today isn't just that dating norms have fallen by the wayside, it's that we're too busy responding to put any thought into what our message might mean for the other person. Men and women already don't speak the same language. So throw in rapid-fire texting and it's a recipe for misunderstood disaster. 

If we were literally to take a minute to think about what the other person meant rather than assuming the worst, we might actually make more connections. And believe me, I'm so guilty of this as well. I've definitely jumped to conclusions about men who message me. Now some of them might have been valid, but I've certainly discounted people for reasons that in the light of day might have been nothing more than a lost in translation message that seemed offensive but really wasn't meant with any ill intent.

The longer you're in the dating scene, the more guarded and cynical you are. For instance, when I give a guy my number and he keeps messaging me in the app we met on, I get annoyed. The whole point of giving that to him is to take things off the app and arrange a meet. So usually I remind them I gave them my number and then if they don't listen and still text in the app I just stop replying because to me this signals they aren't serious. 

However, recently a version of this happened where I gave someone my number after he suggested we get together and he replied with his number and told me to text him back. My first instinct was extreme annoyance. Dude, I gave you my number! Why do I need to text you? But I decided to bite the bullet and I did text him back. It turns out, he didn't even realize he'd done that. So he wasn't being lazy. There was no ill intent, he just really wanted to meet me, was excited I said yes and instantly sent me his details. Now if I hadn't texted him, who knows if he would had gone back and realized I sent my number first or if our potential relationship would have fizzled like countless other online connections. All I do know is by giving him the benefit of the doubt, I opened myself up to the possibility of something new and the chance to meet someone special. 

Essentially this is intent vs. impact (I stole that from a diversity training I went to last week but the message is spot on). What their intent is might have a very different impact on you. Neither of you are wrong, but you both need to take a second to consider what that person meant. And by not rushing to judgment, you just might have an amazing conversation with someone and an even better connection.