I say apple. He hears orange.

Bad things happen when communicating by text.

Combined with hormones, exhaustion and a fevery temper, it’s like sticking a firework in a birthday cake. BOOM.

I say one thing, he hears another and before you know it you’re both holding your own conversation about what you think is happening with little knowledge that the other person is suddenly receiving your texts in Russian. He sticks his heels in, you push a little harder. Next comes the stand off and then the inevitable moment of reality when everything that just happened slowly and painfully, sinks in. And it doesn’t end there. Ooooh no. If only it did. Now comes the make up chat, where you hope one or both of you learnt something and then the good bit; make up sex. The one thing that makes rowing acceptable.

We’ve been tackling these crossed wires since contemporary man was capable of vocalizing their irritation.

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus came out not long before I had my first proper boyfriend. Everyone was reading it and more were talking about it. So my parents bought it for him as a Christmas gift, mostly because it was funny but slightly because they thought we might need it at some point. They were right. Every man and woman alive needs that book at some point, if only to laugh at the very real reality of the title. We really are a very different species. So we took it and laughed and himmed and haaaad and saw some sense in the madness.

Years later, I’m still trying to see the sense in the madness.

Men are not unlike women. They think that they’re plain and simple beings, easy to read and understand and that we are the complex, encrypted version of themselves. They want a map and a compass to navigate their way through our emotional fuse board. Standing mute and slop mouthed when we spark off at something they didn’t even see coming. Something so far off radar it hits them like a meteorite. Thing is – it was pretty darn obvious from where we and the army of women behind us were standing. Whereas men, in their simple, quiet, uncomplex way, wanting so much for things to just be straightforward, praying that long silences and breathing space will make the meteorite spit back out of their atmosphere, seriously considering playing dead just to avoid the topic… can actually make things worse.

So it happened that with a spate of text messages that ran very quickly from ‘I’m feeling a bit crappy’, to ‘Fuck you,’ that I learnt a lesson. Communication is about more than what I believe to be true. And he learnt the lesson – it is sometimes as simple as the words on the page.

This article is my 42nd oldest. It is 466 words long, and it’s got 2 comments for now.