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Smartphones and dating: Not necessarily the text best thing

Single people these days sometimes share their beds with a Droid.

Others prefer an Apple or BlackBerry. Whatever the brand, nearly one out of five singles say they keep their smartphones in bed with them, a new national survey reveals. Sixteen percent say they have even checked their phones during sex.

The online poll of 1,500 single smartphone users, jointly commissioned by dating websites JDate and ChristianMingle, explored the extent to which the addictive devices have infiltrated every corner of romance today and even rewritten the courtship code of conduct.

Almost all singles keep their smartphones out of sight on a date, yet two out of three manage to check them during the date anyway. Most smartphone users said they would be OK with a date whipping out a phone to take a call or answer an email or text, as long as they provide a good explanation.

Decades ago, the rule of thumb was waiting three days to call after a date, said Greg Liberman, chief executive of Spark Networks, which owns JDate, ChristianMingle and other dating websites. Now, in many cases, "the three-day rule has become the three-hour rule," Liberman said.

Most single people with smartphones expect to communicate within 24 hours after a good first date, the poll showed. Beyond the first date, the timeline only tightens: Sixty percent of singles believe that if they text a current or possible paramour, they should get a text back within three hours. Singles between the ages of 21 and 26 were especially impatient, the poll found, with 14% expecting a reply instantly or within a few minutes.

Yet singles who text too eagerly could also find themselves in the doghouse. Nearly half of singles polled said they had gotten annoyed with someone they dated for texting them too much. Out of those singles, a majority said they soured after getting somewhere upward of 15 messages a day.

Unwelcome messages could lead to an especially unwelcome reply: More than half of the singles said they would consider breaking up with someone they were casually dating through a text message, the survey showed. Nearly one of four wouldn't rule out cutting off an exclusive relationship that way.

However, far fewer said texting would be their "most likely" method for breaking up, as opposed to making a phone call or meeting face-to-face.

Is all this technology good for romance? Nearly two out of three singles said mobile devices had helped improve their relationships with people they were dating or wanted to date. Yet almost as many — 58% — said it made dating more murky. Singles in their 20s and early 30s were especially worried.

The youngest singles "never actually got to experience a time when you write a phone number on a napkin," Liberman said. As texting and hanging out in groups takes over, many singles can't even tell if they're being asked out on a date, he said.

If someone gets a text message inviting them to a bar, for example, "are there going to be a bunch of other people there too?" Liberman asked.

emily.alpert@latimes.com

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