Let's talk about text

This facial expression as demonstrated her by Debbie Harry is what happens when men leave women "hanging on the telephone".
This facial expression as demonstrated her by Debbie Harry is what happens when men leave women "hanging on the telephone".

Women thought they came close to cracking the Da Vinci Code of dating once - but it was all a mirage created by He’s Just Not That Into You, the Candace Bushnell-Carrie Bradshaw catalyst and those hideous Cosmo quizzes with titles like “Does he love you even though he’s sleeping with your sister’s best friend?”

For the single troops still in the trenches of the war against spinsterhood, there’s a new form of artillery: dating Google.

Many members of the coalition of the willing (to settle down) are experts in the art of interrogation. It may even be the reason why they are still “on assignment”: I’m pretty sure any man would rather endure a prostate exam in public than answer a woman when asked “does my bum look big in this?” or “what’s so good about Bunnings anyway?”

There’s also another annoying inquiry that women warriors despise asking and being asked: “Does he like me?”

The advent of sophisticated mobile phone technology has allowed us to seek geographical directions, compare the sugar content of our favourite yoghurts while standing in the dairy section and post first world follies on social networks. However, the one thing single women have struggled to do since the beginning of time (well since the Nokia 2110), is decipher text messages from potential husbands/boyfriends/one night stands/stalkers.

Considering the CEOs of major telecommunication companies have single women (and the youths of China) to thank for their holiday home portfolios, one single gal living in Sydney recently ditched the local dating scene and decided to hot foot it to Manhattan.

This isn’t a typical story of heading offshore to find a suitable suitor in a suit on Wall Street. Lisa Winning instead went to the Big Apple to take a bite out of the burgeoning technology start-up industry and launched HeTexted.com – a site which offers women relationship advice in real time, by real people.

HeTexted.com works like this: girl gets text, is unsure of what it means or what to reply and anonymously posts the text in question to HeTexted.com for feedback.

Other users, including Mason, Ben, Tim and Chris who make up the panel of men called “Ask A Bro”, are able to weigh in and suggest how the lovelorn and sometimes clueless female members should proceed by clicking on “He’s Into You”, “He’s Not Into You” or “The Verdict Is Still Out”.

While there are some genuine requests for help, some of the tongue-in-cheek messages which have already been posted are more entertaining than a day spent with Beyonce and Jay-Z on board their super yacht in Cannes.

“Hey dan we met a few months back in sugar rays. Im pregnant and thinks its urs..” one user sent.

“Who? Are you that tall bird?” the ‘gentleman’ replied.

“I was taller than u lol. Do u want to meet up? I think im keeping it.. x”

“Out of the office: Daniel Marshall is currently in Australia until 2015. For urgent enquires please email Dan.marshall15@gmail.com. Thank you.”

As someone who spent their late teens comparing and contrasting novels and deconstructing art in order to bag a bachelor (the degree version not one with a pulse and penis), fast forward a few years and I’m the unsuccessful Antony Green of the short messaging service.

I’m ashamed to say that I have sometimes shopped out messages to mates to get their opinion - as a subscriber to the “if he’s not contacting you, he’s not interested” theory, a text means that I’m like a fish out of water.

I have one friend I go to for the harsh truth, another when I want to remain optimistic and another who tells me to pull my head out of my first world problem funk by saying things like “If Noah can write Allie 365 letters, this guy can send you a text.”

HeTexted.com is the new courting adjudicator or “like an advice column on steroids”, according to Winning. And winning it is - the site reached an audience of 750,000 in one week and an average of three new users are now signing up every minute.

“Texting really is the modern day equivalent of poetry or love letters. It’s usually the opening shot in embarking on a relationship. That combined with the ambiguities of text mean that not only can things go really right – but also really wrong. It’s important to give good text,” she said.

After touching down in the US, Winning met up with Carrie Henderson McDermott, who was Glamour magazine’s beauty editor. She quit her job after she heard about the HeTexted.com business model and as co-founder now takes it upon herself to let women know that men hate red lipstick on a first date and that a 3am text message should be ignored.

She should know, she met her husband on a Tuesday night in a karaoke bar, he texted and wedding bells became her new text tone.

"You can be a very strong, smart woman and get a ridiculous message and want to dissect it at length. It is pretty normal," Henderson McDermott said during an interview on Good Morning America last week.

But is the site going to cater for single ladies everywhere?

So far, the majority of activity has stemmed from English speaking countries.

“Aussie guys are real heartbreakers. They are so good looking and charming and witty, girls really have their work cut out for them in getting a serious, sincere response from an Aussie bloke,” Winning said.

“Brits are a little more reserved and also quite punchy and dry in their texts.

“American guys seem to be more open and direct but they sure seem to send enough texts late at night which we all know is a huge red flag. American guys also seem to be quite big fans of the emoticon which is a whole other minefield for misinterpretation.”

The male version, SheTexted.com, is currently in production and Winning is now busy recruiting more brave men to sit on the “Ask A Bro” panel.

“Each of those blokes are receiving hundreds of questions from girls every day.”

What are your tips for forging successful textual relationships?

P.S. If anyone knows of Dan Marshall, please kick him in the shin then hire him as a comedy writer.

This story Let's talk about text first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.