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For the Guys – Thoughts on Emoticons

26 Oct

So the other day, my dear friend Erin asked me via Twitter if I had any posts on guys and emoticons. I thought, le duh, of course I do. This is one of my favorite topics to talk about. And then (to my horror) I realized I had not, in fact, covered this important topic just yet. So dear readers, I apologize for my delay. I am sure you’ve all been anxiously awaiting the day when I tell you what I think about guys who use emoticons.

The short version is, I hate when guys use emoticons excessively (and unfortunately, I’ve seen them used excessively a lot). I find it to be inherently unmanly and frankly kind of immature. I too loved the :) faces back when I was in 7th grade and chatting on AOL. (A/S/L ) But I was a 12 year old girl, so it was acceptable then. When a grown man sends me emoticons in every other text, I am seriously turned off. Specifically, here’s why.

A. Is this your idea of flirting? I know you can do better…smiley faces are unoriginal and take absolutely no effort or intelligence. Come on now, take an extra minute to think of something clever to say. Leaving me guessing whether you’re kidding or not is kind of hot and will keep me thinking about you much longer.

B. Is it important for you to clarify that what you are writing is a joke? Well here’s a thought, if you weren’t texting, tweeting or Facebook messaging me, you wouldn’t have to clarify the tone of your written words. CALL ME or tell me in person. Then I won’t need additional cues to understand your meaning. Crazy, I know.

c. Guys who use emoticons always seem to be the same guys who abuse !!!!!! marks and LOLs. For the record, I don’t care for LOL whatsoever (again are we in 7th grade?) and gentlemen, let’s try and be a normal level of excitement. When I see !!!!!! I think of a little girl, wearing pink as writes in her diary about how much she loves JTT. Not exactly the image I want when I am talking to a man I’m interested in.

D. And lastly, if you are an emoticon abuser, chances are pretty high that you may also be an emo status updater and a texter. I haven’t done a formal study on this fact, but in my experience these active texters and social network abusers are the same people who over-use these shortcuts. It is likely that due to the fact that they are so often telling the world their woes and writing rather than talking face to face, they have forgotten that there are actually other ways to get their point across that don’t involve a pictorial representation of a face.

Now, please, before you guys freak out — allow me to clarify. If you throw in a smiley face every once in awhile, that is more than fine. Actually it is kinda cute because if you aren’t doing it every other text, I know you are actually trying to convey an emotion. It is only when it is used in excess that I start to question your masculinity and maturity. So guys, if you are going to insist on texting, might I recommend that you spell out your words, punctuate with normal levels of intensity and keep the faces and symbols to a minimum. It’s an easy way for you to stand out as a man amongst the many other little boys we have texting us. You can thank me later.

25 Responses to “For the Guys – Thoughts on Emoticons”

  1. matt October 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Oh GOD…now she’s bitching about emoticons…MAYBE you’re single because you’re like a real life seinfield character…you let unimportant minutia control how you feel about people. Now I grant you there are a lot of d-bag guys in this town, and any girl that’s done her share of dating inherently runs across at least one or two or twelve…but seriously emoticons? Talk about something so tertiary and unimportant as to who or what the guy is about…seriously this insistence on neurotic, obsessive analysis of every little thing a guy does or says MUST be exhausting for whoever actually tries to date you. You’re clearly intelligent and that’s a GREAT quality…but really…MUST you always make sure that we’re all so keenly aware of it at all times? We’re in the digital age…just like only dorks used to date online, now it’s an accepted medium of mainstream social interaction, so to is the emoticon, LOLing and all that other bullshit. You need to do yourself a huge favor and get over yourself every once in awhile…because the single 30’s blog/book/tv show/movie has already been done… :)

    • Kelsey October 28, 2011 at 2:56 am #

      Wow, Matt, just because the digital age has come and stayed doesn’t mean that every person in the world cares to be dragged into peoples’ (to so eloquently use your word) bullshit use of smiley faces, abbreviations, and absolute lack of grammar. Being a professional means you should know how to talk to a pretty girl like Cali without having to use a smiley face every seven seconds. I can see you’re clearly intimidated by her intelligence, or you wouldn’t have left such a clearly dramatic post just asking for controversy.

      • Cali Bradshaw October 28, 2011 at 3:26 am #

        Aw Kelsey, you are the best! You know, it’s funny, but when people leave harsh comments, I doubt they realize how hurtful they actually are. When I write a saucy post, it isn’t about one person, or it isn’t addressed to that one person at least. But when I get personal comments, it makes my tummy hurt a little bc people who don’t know me at all, are making comments about who I am as a person. At the end of the day, this blog is supposed to be fun, so when someone tells me that I need to get over myself or I’ll be single in my 30s, (and that is not nearly as mean as many comments) it really bums me out. But when I then see that I have a reader (you!) defend me, when you don’t even know me, seriously makes my night. Thank you for making me smile and reminding me that I am not alone in wishing for a quality man. XO. -Cali

        • Kelsey October 29, 2011 at 12:40 am #

          Ever so welcome. I dislike posts started just for the sake of causing drama. This is not high school. Believe me, I know, because I’m still in one half the day. :P

          • Cali Bradshaw January 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

            Haha aw to be young again! I wish I was still in HS. Those were the days!

        • Norwegian blend November 7, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

          Well, honestly I think you were a bit unfair yourself. While it is not ok to make assumptions about you (or anyone else for the sake of being), the post that you’ve just made may easily be interpreted as provocative. You clearly addressed a whole lot of guys in that post, the ones that frequently use abbreviations and emoticons after which you described them in a derogatory manner, making comparisons to being twelve years old.

          Are you really surprised that you do get reactions?

          It is ok to either like or dislike how people choose to express themselves using emoticons or not, but you could have skipped humiliating comparisons. At the end of the day, it’s not like you’re obligated to date those guys anyway so I see no point in insulting potential readers. Generally I do think you are making a fine job of making cheerful posts representing the birds’ side of the table we call dating.

          And then to the point and my opinion…
          Why do you think it is that silly to use even a lot of emoticons? I mean I can see your point of the attractiveness of proper spelling and punctuation but apart from that I see emoticons as a way of conveying your emotions on limited phones. Of course phones are not that limited any longer, but the tradition of emoticons started way back ago when there were severe limitations. This tradition has been carried along, and frankly I find it interesting that people continue to write in a short manner when there really is no need to do so. Another proof that humans are creatures of habits after all.

          • Cali Bradshaw November 17, 2011 at 1:25 am #

            Hi there. Thanks for the comment. I see your point, but the key is, it is my blog. So if I want to be saucy and feisty and provocative – I can! I am not here to sugar coat it. No one wants to read a wishy-washy, let me hold your hand post. And note, it was just one reaction. I don’t think your average joe was offended by this post. In fact, a guy at work read it and emailed me that he could not agree more…

            My question is, who really gets humiliated by reading a blog post on a hot pink blog? This is all for fun and it is one woman’s opinion. Take it or leave it. But to personally attack the person who wrote it, that to me, makes zero sense. In any case, I like having the freedom to write all types of blog posts. Yep, most of mine are cheerful. But if I want to express a true grievance of mine, such as the overuse of emoticons then I don’t feel compelled to present it in a cheerful and supportive tone.

            Anywho to your point about why – I outlined the why in the post. I think it is lazy, un-romantic, lacks creativity and doesn’t scream particularly manly. Yes, we are creatures of habit, but smart phones have been around for a while so I just don’t think it’s an excuse.

            At any rate, I appreciate your opinion and you taking the time to read. Have a good one! -Cali

        • Sean April 17, 2013 at 2:43 am #

          Hi Cali, I’m a new reader and enthusiast of your blog. I use emoticons a lot because texting and emailing are limited in their ability to emit social nuances. I get that using too many smilies or LOLs can turn you off, but I use them when messaging a girl to express subtle humor as well as expressing emotion. I know you women are emotional thinkers, so there’s nothing wrong with a guy using emoticons every once in a while. If they use about three or four in a sentence or paragraph, yeah that’s a little much. But one smiley or LOL should not turn you off. Every girl I’ve dated loved it when I used a smiley. So you are wrong to say that women hate when guys use emoticons. Just offering some feedback from the peanut gallery.

    • Cali Bradshaw October 28, 2011 at 3:19 am #

      Hi Matt, I find your comment funny.

      I should clarify, I have never NOT dated someone due to emoticon-abuse. Only noted it and laughed. And for the record a lot of my friends are the same way. As always with the “for the guys posts” I am just offering a little insight into what most girls will never tell you. You are welcome to take it or leave it. :) But as for focusing on a single topic, eg emoticons, that’s just SEO 101. It’s not like this I sit around thinking about on a daily basis.

      No but, in all seriousness, I appreciate your comment. I definitely don’t want it to come across that I am trying to make you keenly aware of my intelligence. In all honesty, this blog isn’t about me being smart, it’s just for fun (hence the hot pink) so I shall keep that in mind when I write my next posts.


      • Catherine October 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

        It’s so funny when guys get SO defensive when you’re just trying to help them improve their game. I was once telling this guy in a bar that his game would be better if he walked up, chatted for five min, asked for the number, and then excused himself (rather than trying to talk the girl’s ear off the whole night)….and he FREAKED out, and called me a conceited bitch. And I just said it in a friendly way! I was trying to help! Sometimes I guess people get kind of self-conscious and that’s how it comes out.

        • Cali Bradshaw January 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

          Right?!! I am just trying to help them out! I’m not judging them personally, simply offering a little tip and a clue about what SOME girls may be thinking :) Anywho, thanks for the comment, Catherine and thanks fore reading! -Cali

        • mike February 12, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

          Catherine, I wish I could get to know more women like you!

      • matt December 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

        Oh boy I’ve stepped in it now…look at the rancor I’ve stirred up here! LOL. (not really LOL’ing for those of you who are wondering…more sort of chortling silently to myself…sorry I do that, call me feminine if you must)

        Alright firstly let me say, I’ve never met Cali, and was not intending to attack her personally at ALL, and Cali, if my post actually had a negative emotional effect on you, I do apologize, it IS your blog after all, I suppose I have a gift for inflammatory speech as well. My apologies if people took that as me actually being angry or trying to attack Cali, I honestly wasn’t, I was more attacking this ONE individual blog post which I disagree with wholeheartedly (just my opinion, I’m entitled to it same as anyone else).

        Sometimes in debate I suppose I need to tone down the language I use when attempting to make a point, but it really wasn’t like I was personally offended or seriously upset…honestly until this morning when her new post hit facebook, never gave this entry a second thought. It should be stated, I actually thoroughly enjoy reading her blog (Cali you are a very talented writer) and most of the time I agree wholeheartedly and even when I don’t appreciate the perspective and the insight. I wasn’t trying to be SO defensive Catherine, and Kelsey I LOVE intelligent women and am not threatened by a sharp minded or sharp tongued woman in the slightest. I actually enjoy competitive banter and very rarely take this stuff personally. I really do dig people who can take a verbal lashing and respond in kind…but again my intent was not to seriously offend anyone, so if my post had that effect I do apologize.

        I do still stand by the point I was (apparently poorly) attempting to make though (if not my manner of presentation), and I will try briefly to reiterate it in a more subdued manner. It’s a male perspective so take it for what it’s worth…because ladies it should be noted.. the same way that women have seemingly small things that can disqualify a man as a potential suitor, so to it is with men towards potential female candidates.

        Now in most mediums bad grammar is a terrible pet peeve for me as well (text messages are the one place I let it slide, because I hate writing everything out, call it laziness if you like, it is what it is), but that wasn’t the point I was making. Cali was making some sweeping conclusions about what type of man she might be talking to (emo, constant status updater, 12 year old girl wearing a pink tu-tu etc) based on…well..nothing really…so I felt compelled to make similar sweeping uninformed generalizations…and clearly it didn’t sit well with any of the women on this board right? Yes it is her blog, yes she’s totally entitled to hold that opinion, just like I’m entitled to believe that a woman who insists on analyzing and casting judgment on something so unimportant, with very little real information that actually MATTERS (i.e. who that man is as a human being), is IN MY OPINION, a woman who isn’t really looking for the right things, and I personally wouldn’t want to date someone who would cast such a stern judgment without even knowing who I am or what I’m about (not the only man who feels this way ladies trust me). So that’s really it, when it’s all said and done if my post had an inflammatory tone THAT’S where that angst came from…from the same frustration with dating experiences that is so often the subject of Cali’s blogs…no personal offense intended to anyone here. K? friends again? hope so! TTYL! :) :) :)

        • Cali Bradshaw January 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

          Hah! Yes, Matt, friends again. I do, get your point. And if these “judgments” were made without any other knowledge of the person, I’d totally agree. But the people that I have had this issue with, have been guys I knew and their abuse of emoticons was only a small issue compared to much larger ones. I think the point here is, no one is going to not date someone who uses emoticons. However, if you want to stand out in the crowd and you are looking for a way to demonstrate your maturity and your manliness, I am simply recommending cutting down on this method of communication. Thanks for the clarification and for, as always, reading!

  2. Rita October 28, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    I haven’t even read the post yet but the comment sure caught my attention. I too am someone who speaks in full sentences, and tends not to use abbreviations for words, and limits her use of exclamation points and smiley faces to when they are really necessary AND I only lol or lmao or rofl when I in fact am lol’ing, actually lmao or literally rofl. seriously. I am not a fan of shortened words. I have a smart phone and my smart phone can receive big text messages. Spelling out the word takes more time and actually comes across as a nicer more thoughtful way of saying something.

    Course I’m the same girl who hugs someone new every day to stay connected to the real world. So what do I know.

    now I’m going to go and read your post.

    • Cali Bradshaw October 28, 2011 at 3:58 am #

      Haha thanks, Rita!! I love it! I guess there are at least a few of us left who appreciate proper grammar and un-abbreviated words :)

  3. Caitlin MacGregor October 29, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    Yikes. Matt’s comment was unnecessary. Maybe you struck a nerve? Perhaps a guy you’ve rejected? No one likes emoticons that much.

    I fully agree with you on this topic. And if you’re a guy that loves using emoticons, lol, etc. then I’m sure there’s a girl out there for you that doesn’t mind. Just like there’s guys out there for us that don’t overuse them.

    When it comes to dating first impressions are important. Since texting, email and/or social media are probably going to be a part of that getting to know each other process then spelling and grammar are important. The impression overuse of emotions from a guy gives me is they’re immature, cheesy and a bit feminine. Sorry guys, just being honest.

    Also, I did blog about emoticons awhile back if you feel like reading more of my opinions on the topic: http://lookingforloveonline.blogspot.com/2011/03/emoticons.html

    • Cali Bradshaw January 13, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

      AS always, I think you are rad. Your comment summed up my thoughts exactly. Thanks for chiming in!

  4. Emma October 29, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Hey Cali,

    As a gay woman I just wanted to say I think this site is hilarious and really accurate even for girls dating girls. It seems that whenever anybody likes anyone regardless of gender they are in for a roller coaster! Is there a way to escape the drama…..? I think not.

    Anyway, nice work.

    • Cali Bradshaw January 13, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

      Aw thanks, Emma! I love to hear that it is relevant to you too and I think you are right on, there is no way to escape the drama! Thanks for the comment. -Cali

  5. Olivia August 17, 2012 at 12:46 am #


    I so appreciate this post! As a fellow writer, it is just personally turns me off when men use emoticons. For me, it seems childish (minus the few cute smiley faces here and there), and shows the inability to convey emotion with using words. It college I was a communications studies major and there is written and published work on how men who use emoticons in excess does in fact correlate with their inability to express emotion and or talk about emotions. t was very interesting! That is why as children when our homework was done well it was often accompanied by a smiley face sticker to reinforce the “emotion” the teacher was trying to convey regarding the well done homework. Thank you again for you blog post!

  6. Garrett January 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    ((Sorry If I double post this, the first one did not show up on the blog, but that may be because you have to accept the comment first before it shows up.))


    I randomly stumbled across this post today after the title caught my attention. I haven’t read any of your other posts, and to be honest, chances are I wont be finding my way back here any time soon again. (Not really a blog reader by nature) I read through your analysis as well as all of the responses and I thought the conversations were quite amusing.

    Before I give you my thoughts, I want to say that you have a real flare for words, and I enjoyed reading your post. So I felt inclined to respond with my own two cents before disappearing. As a 25 yo Male I both agree and I disagree with your analysis of Men and using emotes.

    I happen to love using emotes. I think it is a great way to show in no uncertain terms how you are feeling. In fact, I often find it frustrating when people leave their posts and their emotions ambiguous, especially when having a more serious conversation through text or over skype (assuming you cannot voice). A lot can be lost in translation between your thoughts, and what you you write down, and it has been my experience that things can very easily get misinterpreted. I have had women get irate with me after texting them a joke, or laugh when I was trying to be serious. I find that emotes are a good way to bridge this gap.

    I consider myself to be a very well spoken and well written person. I take pride in my ability to express myself in a full and unique manner. I am also one of those chronic emoticon users you talked about…

    Now you might be wondering, why then am I not using emotes, and lol in my post now!!!!!? Well, what I think your blog entry failed to mention is that with the many different mediums of communication that exist today, each has its own sub-culture. What I mean by this is that, when I text or use Skype, I almost always use short hand, I do not use punctuation… and yes, I end almost everything I send with an emote. But when creating and email, no matter who I am sending it to, I make sure every word is spelled correctly and that the final product is professional and neat.

    Perhaps my love of emotes comes as a result of growing up in an era when LoL and ROTFLMAO were the were the widely accepted way to express an appreciation of humor, but I really do like all the emoticons offered by texting services, and I find it fun to go searching for an emote which matches the emotion of the text or message I am sending.

    I am not, on the other hand, a chronic social network user. I can’t even remember the last time I got onto facebook. I do think that your generalization of chronic emoticon users as immature is probably correct, but I would argue that this is probably because most people who use emoticons grew up in the generation where this was the status quo. In other words, most of the people who use emotes were children 10 years ago… including myself and you I would imagine based on the comments above.

    I do think you are a bit hasty in making assumptions about peoples character based on the way they communicate through text. So instead of dumping a guy or ignoring his texts/calls because you don’t like the way he texts, I encourage you to simply say you dislike when people over use emotes… I would imagine, if the guy is actually into you, or even just your friend, he would make an effort not to poke at your pet peeve.

    TL:DR – I agree that using excessive emotes is often indicative of some level of immaturity, but it might also be indicative of the man trying to clearly communicate his feelings to you, or simply a bad habit picked up growing up in the same generation you are from!


    Thanks for reading,


  7. Anon January 25, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    My girlfriend actually gets mad at me for NOT using emoticons.

  8. Jen May 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Bah this is seriously the greatest blog I have come across. I totally hate all the emoticons too they drive me insane. Be a MAN seriously hahaa.

    Thanks for this Laugh!!!

  9. Kassem November 7, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    The reason men will take offense to this is because you are calling them less than a man for using a fucking emoticon, excuse my french. Or at least that is the vibe you are giving out, including women like “Jen” who commented saying “Be a MAN seriously hahaa”.

    I understand that you are trying to help men actually improve their chances with women. And these men are not mad at you, they are mad at women for thinking this way. I know it sounds funny, but it’s true. Why would Jen think a man who is interested in her is not a true man for using wink faces and smileys in his texts?

    All that he is doing is trying to get his point across because he can’t adjust his tone level accordingly because he is texting (and it is quite impractical to call a girl in response to a text). When I say “lol” (and I do quite often in texts), I am implying “hey, I’m not actually serious here”. When I use a wink face I am implying “I intend this comment to be flirty more than serious”. And I understand that you are probably very right, eliminating the ‘lols’ and ‘;)s’ would probably yield more attraction… and maybe I am being too accommodating, and that I should leave her wondering whether I am serious or not, because in fact it is “hot”.

    Yet again, the ‘rant’ that some men will make here is not against you… it is against the way women perceive “hotness” in a man. Why must a man appear less attractive for being accommodating? Why must a man resort to being aloof to be more attractive? Why do these specific qualities appeal to women more? That is more what we are angry about… haha. It is what it is though… and we won’t change what women universally find attractive, and therefore I personally will resist the temptation to rant, and rather to learn and change. I will resist the temptation to be angry for being called less than a man, and simply change to appear to these superficial women the true man that I am.

    And don’t take offense for calling women superficial. I can feel you already building up a judgement on my character for saying that. I am only being honest. If a man calls a woman “less than a woman” for doing something like… let’s say having her hair short; wouldn’t you think he is superficial, unfair, and most importantly, wrong? But believe me, men (generally) are less attracted to women with shorter hair. But hey, fun note, if a man does say something like that, he will get so much more crap than you or Jen saying something like “be a MAN!”

    Anyway, thank you for having the heart to give me and other men genuine advice on how to improve their chances with women, and I will take it ‘like a man’.

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