The estimated reading time for this post is 9 Minutes

In this day of age, everyone is on their phone texting each other. Human interaction is being limited and texting is the new way to have a conversation. But is texting the best way to interact with someone? In the story “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian, Cat Person tells the story of a college student, Margot, and the relationship she has with an older man, Robert. It is through Margot and Robert’s relationship that the effects that texting can have on a relationship are displayed. In the story, it is evident that texts can be misinterpreted and that it is hard to really get to know the person through text. Texting is used as a way used to create is this relationship that Margot and Robert have but it is texting that contributes to the end of their relationship.

At the beginning of the story, Margot and Robert began texting after Robert asks for Margot’s number. Robert and Margot develop this relationship over text messages. They constantly text each other jokes without having a real conversation. Roupenian writes ”Over the next several weeks they built up an elaborate scaffolding of jokes via text, riffs that unfolded and shifted so quickly that she sometimes had a hard time keeping up” Weeks go by without them really getting to know one another. The text goes on to say “She still didn’t know much about him because they never talked about anything personal.” This relationship has no foundation because they don’t have a real conversation. The lack of actual conversation and bonding can create awkward interactions and a lack of trust.

One night, Margot was complaining about being hungry and not having any food. Robert offers to buy her something from 7-11 but she declines with a joke. Robert responded “No, I’m serious, stop fooling around and come now,” so she met him at the 7-Eleven. Margot goes with him because she is basically forced to by Robert’s text. He bought her a Cherry Coke Slurpee and a bag of Doritos and a novelty lighter. He then took her by the arm and kissed her gently on the forehead and said. “I will see you soon.”

Margot and Robert eventually go on a “date” to see a movie. It is at this point that we began to see how texting affects Margot and Robert’s relationship. When she is in Robert’s car, Margot worries about her safety. “She became wildly uncomfortable, and, as they got on the highway, it occurred to her that he could take her someplace and rape and murder her; she hardly knew anything about him, after all.” She has these because she doesn’t really know anything about Robert. This relationship proves to be unhealthy. After the movie, they both go get a drink even though Margot was not enjoying herself. She doesn’t want to say no because she’d had high expectations for him, and it didn’t seem right to end the “date” so quickly. At this point, Margot doesn’t want to be with him but she stays to be polite.

At the club, Margot is denied entry into the bar because she is only 20 and Robert is surprised because he didn’t know she was that young. “Oh, I thought you said you were older.” This goes to show how texting leads to miscommunication between the two and how it has affected their relationship negatively. They eventually find another Bar, where Margot gets drunk and suggests that they should go back to Robert’s place. At Robert’s house, Margot once again began to wonder about her safety. Those thoughts and the discomfort stem from the fact that she doesn’t know anything about Robert because they have never had a real conversation. Margot doesn’t want to have sex but is too scared to tell Robert because she is scared of how he will react. Margot decided to have sex with him anyway because she could not think of a blackout at this point. Margot says “But the thought of what it would take to stop what she had set in motion was overwhelming; it would require an amount of tact and gentleness that she felt was impossible to summon. It wasn’t that she was scared he would try to force her to do something against her will but that insisting that they stop now, after everything she’d done to push this forward, would make her seem spoiled and capricious as if she’d ordered something at a restaurant and then, once the food arrived, had changed her mind and sent it back.” The lack of trust presents itself in this scene. Margot doesn’t feel comfortable expressing how she feels about Robert simply because she doesn’t really know who he is and she doesn’t know how he will react.

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The next day after their “date”, Robert continues to text Margot but she doesn’t know how to tell him that she does not want to see him again and this is when misinterpretation comes into play. Texts can easily be misinterpreted. When Margot is trying to end the “relationship” that she had with Robert, she has trouble sending the text because she thinks that Robert will misinterpret what she is saying. Margot says “Thank you for the nice time but I’m not interested in a relationship right now”—but she kept hedging and apologizing, attempting to close loopholes that she imagined him trying to slip through (“It’s O.K., I’m not interested in a relationship either, something casual is fine! ”) so that the message got longer and longer and even more impossible to send.” This is one of the many problems with texting. It is difficult to fully grasp what the person is saying as well as read their emotions.

Margot starts to miss Robert. Not the actual Robert, but the Robert she was texting. Roupenian writes “Every so often, over the next day or so, she would find herself in a gray, daydreamy mood, missing something, and she’d realize that it was Robert she missed, not the real Robert but the Robert she’d imagined on the other end of all those text messages during the break.” It is difficult to get an idea of a person’s personality through a text. But it is extremely easy for someone to alter who they are and create this false identity. We see Margot fall for this identity that Robert has created while texting Margot.

Margot’s roommate, Tamara, takes Margot’s phone and sends Robert a message saying “Hi I’m not interested in you stop texting me.” Margot can’t bring herself to send the message “breakup” because she can’t have a conversation with Robert because they never had one. A month later, Margot saw Robert as a student at her college but uses her friend to evade Robert. While at her dorm, Margot receives multiple text messages from Robert saying “Hi Margot, I saw you out at the bar tonight. I know you said not to text you but I just wanted to say you looked really pretty. I hope you’re doing well! I know I shouldn’t say this but I really miss you” However, when Margot doesn’t reply and she decides to ghost him. She turns to ghosts because she doesn’t want any contact with Robert. It is easy for Margot to ghost Robert because she has no emotional attachment to him. This emotional attachment is never developed because they never got a chance to connect with one another. Robert’s messages became increasingly aggressive saying “Is that guy you were with tonight your boyfriend? Or is he just some guy you are fucking. Sorry. When u laughed when I asked if you were a virgin was it because you fucked so many guys. Are you fucking that guy right now? Are you? Whore.” Robert becomes aggravated with Margot because she doesn’t text him back. At first, Robert is sweet and nice to Margot but we can see that Robert is very aggressive. Margot doesn’t see this side of Robert due to the lack of interaction they have.

Their texting contributes to the end of their relationship because instead of having a real conversation and actually learning about each other, Margot goes into this relationship blind with certain expectations and this creates problems. For example, they didn’t think to ask for each other ages and when the true ages are found out, it makes Margot uncomfortable. Also, Margot doesn’t know anything about this man and this is evident through her interactions when she is with Robert. When Margot is on her way to Roberts’s house it says “she had the brief wild idea that maybe this was not a room at all but a trap meant to lure her into the false belief that Robert was a normal person, a person like her, when in fact all the other rooms in the house were empty or full of horrors: corpses or kidnap victims or chains.” She doesn’t feel comfortable around Robert. She often has thoughts that Robert is going to kidnap or kill her. This “relationship” has been built on basically small talk and when they are together she doesn’t know how to feel about him because he is a stranger in a way. With no emotional attachments to Robert, she quickly ends the relationship.

Margot and Robert’s relationship is created through text which proves to be problematic. She doesn’t get to connect with Robert because they never have a real conversation which leads to being uncomfortable around him. When they get together Margot feels like she is with a complete stranger and she doesn’t want to be with him anymore. Texting has way more complications than having an actual conversation and Margot experiences this firsthand. This story should encourage you to get out and engage with people more instead of always being on your phone.

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