Dear Dr. Wes and Miranda: My boyfriend and me were apart for break. The first week we were texting everyday and switching off who was texting who, and it was all lovey-dovey. We Skyped and Facebooked and so on. But then, halfway through break he went on a trip with his friends, and I haven’t heard from him since. It’s been a week and its not normal for a bf not to text his gf every day in this day and age, so I’m worried that he’s bored with me or maybe he doesn’t really love me like I thought he did. And now I’m thinking maybe I should break up with him if he doesn’t care about me. What do you think?
Miranda: In the age before cellphones, this wouldn’t have ever been a problem. He would have gone on his trip, and you wouldn’t have heard from him until he returned home. Cellphones have provided the expectation of constant communication, so even if you two are hundreds of miles apart, you can easily freak out if he doesn’t respond within an hour.
Take a deep breath. He’s on a trip. What if he left his charger at home? What if he’s out of cell service? What if he’s just having fun? It seems extreme that you automatically believe he doesn’t love you anymore. That’s not to say you’re wrong, but I’d wait and see how he treats you when he gets back. If he’s distant and cold, then you might want to end it.
Once he returns home, make it a rule to only text during lunch or at night before you go to bed. Or, you could even call each other on the phone (gasp!). If you set aside a certain time of the day to really talk, those conversations will become more meaningful, and their absence less anxiety-producing.
Ever heard the phrase “quality over quantity”? Use that as your guide. Don’t text someone for the sake of texting or to reassure yourself. It should not fill the void of actual human communication. In the future, focus less on the amount you talk and more on the quality of those conversations.
Dr. Wes: Texting is only the latest way to tell if a guy is really into you. It is a big deal for couples, but it also follows the same predictable pattern of verbal dating communication.
Things take off and his texts blow up your phone. Then as you get to know each other, he feels more comfortable backing off. You’re already won, why overdo a good thing? Then as you begin to get a little too comfortable with each other, the texts slow to a crawl. Other things just seem a little more interesting, and he starts to be less noticing.
No wonder you felt hurt. The relationship was in overdrive, and suddenly you’re taking a backseat to a good time with his friends. But right here is where you have to get your feelings in check. Quick.
I’m not saying you should just smile and fake being happy. I’m suggesting that relationships aren’t really about feelings as much as they are behavior. Right now, you don’t like his. And what you need to do is think hard about how you want to respond.
Hint: This is NOT a breaking-up situation. Not yet, at least.
You have a right to ask him to make some changes in how he handles his communication with you. That’s a key element of successful coupling — each partner works to meet the others needs, without giving up everything he or she wants. If each does the job correctly, the couple has what’s called “reciprocity” (give and take in roughly equal proportions).
However, you need to pick your battles very carefully and decide what’s really important to you. In this case, I think he should have been a little more sensitive and checked in a time or two every day. But I’m willing to bet a nice dessert on the likelihood that he has no idea you felt disconnected, and once you gently share that news with him and ask him to change, he’ll do his best. If you try this approach a few times, and he’s still not getting it, only then should you pull the plug.