There’s flirting, and there’s texting, and there’s flexing, and then, there’s flexting. Flexting, not unlike flexing, in that it is a display of muscle power (finger muscles, naturally), is the love child of flirting and texting. In the simplest possible definition: flirty texting. The term flexting entered my vocabulary the other day as my friend anxiously checked the time stamp of his most recently sent text to a potential romantic interest. 8:35, fuck. My friend had, he dejectedly explained, sent his last “flext” at 7:52, 40 minutes after he had received a flext (7:12, post-meridiem), which meant that it had been 43 minutes with nothing. No banter-laden retort, no emoji, no hope.
However, we deemed this duration acceptable for the following reason: My friend himself had waited only three minutes less than his flexting partner had thus far waited before replying, and so, perhaps this potential romantic interest was feeling the need to surpass my friend’s response-resistance time. This theory, however, would be blown if a text were not received in the next half-hour. That exorbitant amount of time would be beyond reason, and there would be no hope at romance, friendship or, perhaps ever flexting again.
Unfortunately, he sighed, these are the realities of flexting (now officially coined). It also came up over the course of our conversation that my friend was not entirely sure his flexting partner was “available.” How many people was he flexting? Was my friend one of many? Filled with self-doubt and emojis on the tips of his fingers, my friend shoved his uncracked iPhone five into his pocket and groaned. You’d be a fool to think that flexting is easy.
And there is not simply one kind of flexting. Oh, no. There are three. Flexting with someone old, flexting with someone new and flexting with someone borrowed (N.B., no one likes to flext with someone blue). To complicate his situation even further, my friend did not know with whom he was flexting and thus what category his flexting relationship fell into. Yes, someone new, but someone borrowed too? Someone off the official dating market, but on the flexting game? It was unclear, and thus my friend, a self-proclaimed pro-flexter, was thrown off, anxious, and lacking his usual flexting confidence.
Flexting with someone borrowed is complicated, and really just not acceptable. But, because our phones aren’t our lips, or our tongues, or … you know … flexting with someone borrowed is, somehow, not considered cheating in our college world. But let your girlfriend catch a glimpse of that smirking emoji you just sent to the chick you sit next to in “The Structure of Networks?” You’re outta here.
We love to flext, we hate to flext, we love to hate to flext, we hate to love to flext. Last week, I was out to dinner with a friend who had just acquired a new flexting acquaintance. Jumpy and excited to be flexting with someone brand-new, my friend discussed with me proper flexting protocol, which is especially difficult when with someone new; you have yet to gauge their standard response time and banter aesthetic. During our conversation, my friend mentioned a recent piece of advice she had been given on the matter of flexting: When it is appropriate to send the first flext, or the first text for that matter? The advice she received on the matter was the following: If your happiness is contingent upon whether or not you get a reply to a text, do not send it.
Sometimes a flext is successful, sometimes it isn’t. But if sending a text message (emoji or not) is going to shape the outcome of your day, distract you from your friends, your work or your procrastinating, the appropriate movie is probably to catapult your phone across the room. Valuing your textual flirting success rate over your self-respect? Let’s not. So the next time you’re debating whether or not to send a flext, ask yourself, would not getting a reply have the potential to ruin your Woad’s? If the answer is yes, leave your phone in your room and get your ass to penny drinks. Hey, maybe you’ll get some new flexting digitz … Or better yet? Try having a conversation with someone in person.