This is one of the most frequently asked questions a dating or relationship coach or consultant receives from a client. It’s like asking for fries at McDonald’s. It happens all. the. damn. time.
It was also a point of contention when Phillip and I started dating. We had fairly different communication styles at the time, and the way we texted aligned with the male and female stereotypes: He sucked at it like a psychopath sucks at empathy, and I relied on it heavily like a heroine addict (okay, maybe not that badly, but still) when we weren’t together.
I would bring it up from time to time, like an annoying mother pushing her son to clean his room.
“I just like checking in during the day, but I hear from you, like, several hours later,” I would tell him.
“I just get really distracted at work,” he would tell me, defensively.
I’d try to find a solution that would work for both of us, like asking him to check his phone at certain hours of the day. But over time, I learned to accept his behavior instead of trying to control it. It was sort of like expecting your Grandpa Joe to regularly use Snapchat instead of meeting him halfway with email or a phone call. I needed to have realistic expectations, find peace with it, and know that there would be a text delay during the workday.
Still, did Phillip need to work on his communication at the time? Yes. Did I need to be patient? Yes. Are we both fallible creatures? Yes. Did we both have to rely on texting as our main communication channel? No.
When you’re getting to know someone, texting can work to your detriment, like using a hand sanitizer to kill germs. You’re allowing someone to hide behind something that mutes non-verbal cues like you mute yourself on a conference call. If texting fails you most of the time, you can use it to work out logistics and make the magic happen on a phone call or in the flesh.
Not to mention that if your boyfriend thinks you’re worth the hassle, he’ll work with you to figure out a way to communicate during the day. If he’s distracted at work (like Phillip, especially when he was carefully working with a flesh-thrashing table saw during his carpenter days), maybe he’ll call you when he’s off. If he doesn’t text very well, call him! Or maybe he likes hiding on something like Signal or Vox. The point is, you have options! You’re not powerless!
I’ll leave you with these parting words from one of my favorite dating consultants:
“If you insist on using text as a primary form of communication, I don’t judge you – as long as it’s working and you’re happy. And if you discover you’re constantly anxious from the churn of texting strangers from dating apps who flake out and disappoint because they have no personal investment in you, maybe you’ll consider replacing texting with something more intimate.”
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