Dear Annie, Josh and I have been together for four months. We adore each other and are in a committed relationship. In spite of that, I can’t get him to call regularly when we’re apart. We see each other every weekend and once or twice during the week.
When I call, he often sounds distant, although he says he’s glad to hear from me. It is as if he had an on-and-off switch. When we’re together, it’s great. But when we’re apart, it seems like he forgets that I exist. Despite my best efforts, this results in my feeling resentful, insecure and unimportant in his life.
I would love to be in relationship where we talk every day. Is it too soon for me to ask him to call regularly? I don’t want to do anything to upset him or scare him away. Deirdre
It’s not too soon to ask your boyfriend to call regularly. An emotionally healthy man who cares for you will want to make you happy and provide what you need as long as it doesn’t conflict with his values or responsibilities to himself or others.
If Josh is unaware that you feel that talking in between your dates is important, he may not see any reason to call. He may believe that you should call him if you want to talk, rather than understanding that you don’t call him because you feel that he’s often emotionally unavailable when you initiate a call.
Like many men, he may not regularly get on the phone just to chat. Instead, he might be more likely to use phone conversations to exchange information. I first noticed this when my son was growing up; he often had a one-minute phone conversation to arrange getting together with a friend, while I was used to conversations that included making a connection before making plans.
Your best bet is to plan a conversation to tell Josh that you would love the opportunity to talk between dates. Before you do so, think about what would be satisfying in the long run.
If you could have it all your way, how often would you talk? How long would those conversations last? Would they be quick check-ins or long talks or a combination of each?
Don’t modify your answers in order to accommodate Josh’s possible reaction. Just decide what would be most satisfying to you. Once you have that sorted out, you will be more able to effectively communicate what you feel is important. You will also be more likely to have gained awareness of the areas in which you’re most comfortable compromising.
When you talk, tell him how you feel when you don’t hear from him: “resentful, insecure and unimportant.” Say that if you had it all your way, he would call you for as often and as long as you previously decided. Tell him what sensation that would provide for you—the opposite of how not talking feels—let’s say, happy, secure and important. Then, ask if this is something he can provide for you. Listen carefully to his reply.