DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have found myself in an odd position concerning text messages.
I am a member of an online dating site. So far, it hasn't gone well. A few days ago, a gentleman contacted me, and we chatted through the website. He asked me on a date, and I accepted, and suggested we exchange phone numbers, which we did.
We began a long (too long for my taste) string of text exchanges, discussing our lives, work and entertainment. These are things I wanted to save for discussion during a face-to-face meeting. However, I understood his assertion of wanting to understand "what makes me tick," as he put it. I finally told him, "I will have to say goodnight" after several hours. We kept the date; we seem to have much in common and I was looking forward to meeting.
The next evening, he texted me again, asking me what I was doing. I was painting my nails, so I responded, "I'm painting my nails." He replied that he loved nice fingernails. I told him I was surprised men cared. He then went on to describe how much men do like nails, and he began a series of messages that described erotic uses for said nails.
I was flummoxed. I haven't met the gentleman, much less want to engage in sexual banter with him. Not knowing how to respond, I texted: "Well, that's weird." He immediately responded "Sorry!" and ceased all communication.
I've obviously caused him embarrassment, but my reaction was honest: I found his text to be presumptuous and grossly premature. It put me in the position of fumbling for words that would save face for him, yet communicate my distaste. The first word I thought of (and then typed) was "weird." As in: I think it is weird to "sext" someone you've never met in person. I thought my reaction paved the way for him to drop the subject. Apparently not.
Am I a prude? Which party should resolve the situation? What is the proper response to overly sexual communications from a stranger? I should add that I'm 58, and he is older as well. My generation certainly isn't known for its lack of inhibition, but I find myself not knowing how to proceed, either with the gentleman in question or future would-be suitors.
While I find the world of electronic communication efficient, it is presenting new challenges to the rules of etiquette.
GENTLE READER: Not in this case. Miss Manners would think it alarmingly clear that one should cut off communication with someone whose idea of getting to know a stranger is to sext her.