David Trinko: Uncovering the first texts of young love

First Posted: 12/7/2013

My oldest daughter has her first boyfriend. At least that’s what the text messages say.

She is 12 years old and much too young for a boyfriend, I think. Then again, I would think that until she’s 30 or I’m dead. It’s what dads do.

I think I can accept this relationship, though. It’s long distance, literally. He lives about an hour from us. His mom works with her mom, and for some reason they exchanged numbers six months ago. They’ve seen each other perhaps five times.

For a protective dad, there is nothing better than a boy who wants to date her but runs no risk of actually touching her. It’s worth bending our rule of no dates until she’s 16.

Their only means of communication is text messaging, which makes modern courtship different than how it worked when I hit puberty.

When I started noticing girls, I had to take mental notes on my interactions with the fairer sex. Then I spent days psychoanalyzing each word. I recall one girl telling me she thought I was funny. I spent a week before realizing she thought the joke I told was funny.

I never really had a girlfriend until my freshman year in high school, at least not one I was aware of. A friend once told me I dated a girl in fourth grade for about a week, but I don’t think she ever ran that by me.

You might think a log of messages might make it easier to figure out what something means. Then I read the texts from the magical days these two kids became an item.

“Do you like me? Just asking,” she texted.

He responded, “Do you like me?”

Then they exchanged IDKs, for “I don’t know.”

Then she kicked into the silent treatment for the rest of Tuesday. And Wednesday. Finally, on Thursday, he announced his decision: “I’ve made up my mind.”

Three hours later, she asked what he was talking about. He responded “yes” to “as a girlfriend” and “so we are now dating.”

I give him credit. He learned not to say anything stupid. I could learn a lot from him.

Part of my preference for this relationship is I can monitor it much better. Her mother and I frequently take the phone from her and review her messages. She knows letting us in on her passcode is just part of the deal.

She also knows that if anything inappropriate pops up, the phone and the relationship go bye-bye. I might have to text him a picture of me carrying my shotgun and wearing my T-shirt that says, “Guns don’t kill people. Dads with pretty daughters do.” That might get the idea across.

Since their coupling, they’ve sent some messages back and forth, mostly confirming that they’re really an item. I’ve tried warning my daughter that repeatedly asking a boy if you’re still going out is just giving him an option to say no.

You might wonder how they feel about their relationship being publicly announced. Apparently they’re cool with it. They updated their social media profiles in a hurry. She is “taken,” one profile says, and he is “in a relationship.”

Sure, it’s a long-distance relationship, with a girl he probably won’t see for the next month, aside from a dozen three-word messages back and forth each night. As long as that’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.