x doesn't mark the spot?
Hello everyone and hope you’re well! This week’s blog post is a really interesting one and inspired by a thought that came to me last week. As we all know, us Brits are big on sending kisses or as they’re more commonly known, x’s. It never occurred to me that this was in fact a very British thing to do until I went to University and met international friends and subsequently, my boyfriend.
A good friend of mine from university is German and I remember having a conversation with her in first year about these so-called x’s. I discovered that upon coming to the UK this x was rather puzzling to her. She asked me why we send it and what does it mean. I laughed, unaware at the time that this wasn’t commonly used outside of the UK.
Naturally I did some research into this and a quick Google search brought up oodles of Reddit and Quora forums asking “What does it mean when British people put an x at the end of text messages or emails?”much to my amusement of course. Apparently our x habit has spread across the pond too. I found an article from the NY Times which revealed some of our American friends are now using “xx” in their messages in an effort to “sound more British and, thus, cooler” … what on earth is this sorcery?! A simple message sign-off which I’d never really given much thought to besides how many to put, is apparently causing quite the stir among our international friends.
I asked my German friend for some more insight about x’s having now spent 3 years in the UK. “So you use them for dating and also for friends?! Dating I can kind of understand but are there a certain amount I just use for friends and then romantic interests? I still don’t get it” And just when you thought this was confusing enough, she discovered that x’s are also used ironically by us Brits, (insert sarcastic: sure hun x), ah the epitome of British culture.
It got me thinking about my own x habits. For example, I always sign off my blog posts with an x. Or to my Grandma a row of “xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx” which to my boyfriend is an absurd concept. My boyfriend is Polish and he too finds this x business strange. Instead we opt for heart emojis and if I ever send him x’s he never returns them. Not because he is being cold or doesn’t *gulp* love me. But because he doesn’t understand them. This is simply not a part of European culture either and he doesn’t know what they mean and how to know how many to send? A peculiar notion to me as I have been using x's ever since my MSN days and my first Samsung flip phone. Much to my amusement, upon my boyfriend’s first encounter with an “xx” he thought it was a code for something x-rated... classic men.
As a Brit, I’m not really sure where I learnt how many x’s were appropriate to send. I guess it’s sort of ingrained in our culture. Mostly, you just bounce off the other person and send however many they do. But that doesn’t really answer knowing how to know how many to send. What exactly is the etiquette when sending x? "Are there guidelines?" as my German friend asked. How many is flirting? How many is too flirty? The lines are very blurred. I see x mostly as a way of not being blunt or being friendly. But my boyfriend argues, “you don’t kiss friends so why send an x?” He has a point but I don’t think x necessarily translates to a literal kiss.
In answer to this conundrum, I don’t think there really is an etiquette for sending x. I think x’s can be an expression of love or friendship, depending on the recipient, but in terms of rules you’ve got me there too. Thanks to emojis, luckily there is an escape from this x confusion as there are plenty of x alternatives and more expression with the vast emoji catalogue. But I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about all of this x business. Are we all overthinking the x concept?
Thanks for reading!
Cappuccino Keeks "x"