Since texting offers no hints of inflection, a "Whatever" message from a girl presents itself as a terrifying game of Jeopardy -- one without Alex Trebek or any of the fun. "A text that reads 'Whatever' can be a light cue to change the subject before she gets annoyed, or a way to say I already screwed up," says Theo, 27. "You kind of just have to guess, but it’s rarely good news."
Ah, but a "Whatever" could ALSO be her way of admitting she was wrong before shrewdly brushing the topic under the rug. And that means you won! No, not the Daily Double cash prize. Just the argument.
A non-smiling selfie with no caption
If a girl sends you a photo of herself in any way, shape, or form, she is seeking one thing from you: attention. That’s obvious. But Mickey, 27, expresses bewilderment in regard to a specific kind: the non-solicited, stoic-faced, un-captioned selfie.
"I never know how to respond!" Mickey says. "When she's not smiling and gives me no context, I don't know what kind of attention she wants. Do I be supportive and ask why she had a bad day, or tell her she looks pretty? There's a big difference there."
Here's a guideline: if she took the time to filter the photo, she probably thinks she looks good. Use your reply to agree with her.
"I'm soooo buzzed right now"
So, the girl you’re seeing is parading around the city for Girls Night Out. And at 11:39pm your phone buzzes: it's a text from her informing you of her state of intoxication. Why the hell is she telling me this?, you ask yourself.
"I get it," says Wayne, 27. "She’s been drinking with her friends. But I never know if she's so hammered that she wants my help, or just wants my penis."
Truthfully, she wants your attention. Notice a theme yet? Plus, any of her uninhibited commentary or "Miss u, let's cuddle" texts will be less abashing for her the next morning if she let you know she was wasted upfront. Depending on your reaction, she can always pretend she was blacked out and doesn't remember sending it.
Also, she wants you to know that she's having fun without you.
This is how we know technology has doomed our society: in today’s world, a properly placed comma or period in a text message can cause emotional outcry. "When a girl writes out a properly punctuated text, I'm sure she's pissed at me," says Reed, 24. "I'll ask how her day is going, and if she replies, 'It's fine.' with a period at the end, I feel like I kicked her dog. She’s being short with me and I wonder what I did wrong."
I'm surprised the period is what tipped him off. When a girl says, "It's fine" -- period or not -- it's never fine.
"I don't know, you pick"
Maybe the girl is trying to be polite and let you plan the evening; maybe she's too lazy to make a venue suggestion; or maybe she genuinely doesn't care where you go. Oh, the possibilities!
Men are completely aware that all of the above are conceivable -- that's why they find it stressful to differentiate a blasé attitude from a lack of interest. "Throw me a bone!" says Chris, 24. "How do I know you're gluten-free or had a traumatic experience with '90s music as a kid unless you tell me? How do I know you genuinely want to go out at all? Don't set me up to fail."