Inability to care for loved ones through simple daily contact – can it at all be excused as a ‘sweet handicap’?
July 3, 2008 8:17 PM   Subscribe

I always followed the philosophy of ‘negative traits are usually just an extension of the best ones in everyone, except after proved otherwise’. But some recent questions here on human relations filter (extreme introversy = unable to keep contact with friends/family; how reliable is “He’s just not that into you” book?) and my own situation (long term and, hopefully temporarily long distance relationship with someone great except that he refuses to call me more often than once a week, on the last day of the week, and has thousands of excuses for not calling more often) makes me wonder if there is a cure for the suffering side of neglected relationships.

It would be easy to just announce it for myself, once and forever, that yes the person is just so wonderful, and inability to communicate properly is the sweet handicap (just as we all have one or a couple of those). I could happily live with that, become much happier with the love I found with the person. Yet Greg Behrendt from “He’s just not that into you” jumps in and says that he calls his woman five times a day because it brightens HIS day! And when he does not have time, he calls and says only that: I don’t have time, will call you later, bye! I am very introverted myself, so I can relate to needing silence and alone-time very well, yet my beloved certainly has a clear priority over me-time.

Is there at all a slightest chance that it can be a ‘sweet handicap’? Is he just not perfect? Or is he just not into me, full stop?

I realize the question is somewhat rhetorical, but I would appreciate opinions of real people. Funnily, my friends only shrug it off: they say they cannot understand why this is happening to me (while all wonderful things are happening to ‘bitches’ - as if it concerted answer; and no I do not go around whining about it, it just surfaces while I never get the call so desired, and that gets noticed).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Some people just aren't into phone calls. Speaking as one of them, I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate using the phone for anything other than organising stuff - "ok, see you at seven; meet next to the town hall". If a call lasts longer than a minute, it's already 30 seconds too long. On the other hand, I'll engage in endless email (etc) conversations. Different strokes. Maybe you could see if there's some other way he'd prefer to communicate?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:34 PM on July 3, 2008

You know, the way you've written (or perhaps over-written) this question, I can't really figure out what the question is here.

It sounds to me like you need to decide what it is you want in a relationship -- do you really want someone who phones you five times a day? I don't but to each his own -- and then figure out if your current partner gives you what you need and want. If he doesn't, then perhaps you need to move on.
posted by loiseau at 8:41 PM on July 3, 2008

I don't know that it matters whether or not he's perfect, or if it's a sweet handicap. What I think matters is what you need from him and whether or not you're getting it. Having recently been in a long distance relationship though, I can offer my experiences FWIW. Because you can't see each other, all you have is the phone (or skype, webcam, whatever) so if you're not a phone person - and we weren't - you need to become one because without it, you're in a relationship with no contact. And what kind of relationship is that?

For us, we would touch base occassionally throughout the day most days, even if it was just to say hey, what are you doing and we would call each other every evening just before we went to sleep to catch up on each other's day and say goodnight. Honestly, without regular contact, I don't know how else it could have worked. Otherwise, for me, we would have lost the connection. And as time went on it got harder and I missed him more and more. And now we're living together and about to get married, so happy ending, yay!

I would tell him you need more regular contact to feel connected to him. Otherwise it can kind of feel like you're single with a person you chat to every now and again. I would also be a little concerned that he doesn't seem to WANT to know what you're up to, and desire regular contact if he keeps making excuses. But then again, he may just hate the phone in which case, webcam maybe? Talk to him about it, and see if you can come to a compromise. He may not realise how much you miss this. If he says he's just not that interested in talking to you, or doesn't really see the point, then you may need to reconsider if this person is the right one for you. Good luck.
posted by Jubey at 8:47 PM on July 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Long distance relationships are hard.
Are you emailing or IMing? Or is the once a week phone call your only contact? That makes a difference. Some people are not phone people, but ALL people who get to be in relationships with you have to be willing to make some compromises. Because you are willing to do the same for them, and that's how relationships work. So instead of talking to your friends about it, I'd talk to him about it. Just tell him, hey, I know you're not a big phone guy, but I miss you and I think about you a lot and it sucks that we only talk once a week. Ask him what's up with that - and listen to him and don't worry about what Greg Behrendt (a comedy writer, not a guru) would say.
Basically, I wouldn't assume there's something bad about your boyfriend being satisfied with the once a week call. And I know that there's nothing wrong with your desire to check in at least once a day. I would think there was something wrong if he wasn't willing to bend a little and meet you somewhere in between - but give him a chance to do that before you judge.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:05 PM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been in a seven year long distance relationship. We communicate by phone an hour minimum every single night. It's wanted. It's needed. It feels right. Something would be entirely off if the communication was any less frequent.

Personal experience. Your mileage may vary.
posted by netbros at 9:32 PM on July 3, 2008

i've never done a long-distance relationship, so potentially talking out of my a$$, but as an absolute telephone-hater I thought I could offer a few points...
- first, yeah, some people (like me) just absolutely hate using the phone. even talking to my closest friends leaves me feeling spent.
- you mention that he tends to call on the last day of the week. i would take that (i'm assuming) regularity as a good sign. it at least indicates that calling you is a blocked-out item on his schedule.
- also, remember how introverts must manage energy expenditure. if he's stressed during the week from work obligations, he may hold off on calling you until he can devote the proper attention. it could just be two sides of the 'quantity vs quality' coin.
so... "Is there at all a slightest chance that it can be a ‘sweet handicap’?"... sure.
posted by bilgepump at 9:39 PM on July 3, 2008

I've been in a similar situation. For me, what made it easier (note: still not easy) was realising that although my way of loving her involved lots of contact, sending her things, etc., her way of loving me was different. It wasn't because she didn't want to talk, it wasn't because she didn't want me in her life. It's hard because you (and I) can't imagine loving someone without wanting that contact, but you can either trust that he does love you (and simply not in exactly the same way you love him) or you can decide that it's because he doesn't care for you.
posted by twirlypen at 9:47 PM on July 3, 2008

I've done LDRs. A reason to limit contact could be in order to concentrate on what must be done (eg, work or study) instead of going crazy because you can't be with the one you love. If your guy is seriously in to what ever he's doing, he may find it necessary to not dwell on you or the fact you're elsewhere.

If that's the way it is with him, you need to figure out whether you can handle that for the duration. It's a tricky way of handling the situation, because you can grow apart under those circumstances. But if he's enduring his weeks alone by working hard, so he can enjoy his reward of the weekend contact, while marking off the weeks until you reunite, you might consider that this is the sort of guy who isn't going to pay much attention to other women.

I'm looking very much at the positive possibilities here. The negative ones are all too obvious, and I don't think you really suspect any foul play on his part. If I'm on the right track, I think that, when you are together, you are totally aware of being the center of his universe.

Don't decide you have a problem just because of some notion of what you 'should' be getting from your guy. Rather, judge the situation based on your real needs. But consider carefully, because if I'm right, and you can be happy with this guy the way he is, you've got a strong candidate for the long-term.
posted by Goofyy at 11:05 PM on July 3, 2008

Or is he just not into me, full stop?

Well, you didn't provide any real information for this question but the basic problem here is that you do not feel as if you are the priority in your lover's life. You want to feel "special" and feel like you are the most important thing in his life. Right now, you've said that one way to feel that way is if you were called more than once a week. That might be true. In fact, there could be a million different ways for him to make you feel like the priority in his life.

The trick is finding what not only works for you but also works for him (and is also honest; if you really aren't the most important thing in his life, it would suck if he just went through the motions and lied to you about it). Do you need flowers? Emails? Free gifts on facebook? Pictures? Phone calls? What is it that would make you feel special and is also something that he is willing to give? Can he make you feel the way you want to feel?

You can say he's "wonderful and amazing" but if he isn't making you feel wonderful then he can't be that awesome. However, if this being a priority is very important to you (and seriously, it should be), and he's not willing to provide it, DTMFA. You're just making excuses and trying to stay off the lonely singledom train even though you're already being dragged in the gravel behind it.
posted by Stynxno at 11:08 PM on July 3, 2008

How often do you physically see each other? How long distances is this LDR. One phone call a week doesn't sound like much of a relationship and it doesn't sound like you're getting what you want out of the relationship either. I don't really see hating phones as an excuse, I hate phones and so does my partner but he used to call me every day, even when we were living together. We both work from home now but in different parts of the house and he still pops into my room several times a day and I pop in to see him too.

Whether this is a 'sweet handicap' or he's just not into you depends on his other actions - if the relationship is one phonecall a week with no other contact, eg. email, IM, face-to-face, thats not a relationship. How long has it gone on and how long is it going to go on like this? Is he affectionate in person, is the one phonecall a good long phone call? How long have you been together? Maybe the novelty has worn off and he still loves you but he's taken for granted that you'll always be there (I've heard this happens but 7 years into a ltr and it hasn't happened yet)

At the end of the day, you want more out of this 'relationship' than he is prepared to give, if he wont compromise and call you at least 3 times a week then you should DTMFA because he obviously cares more about himself than he does about you and that affects more areas of your relationship than just how many phonecalls you get.
posted by missmagenta at 11:41 PM on July 3, 2008

makes me wonder if there is a cure for the suffering side of neglected relationships.

Decide what's important in a relationship and then ask for it. If you don't get what asked for, then you need to figure out if the relationship should continue. It's nice that's he great and all, but if you can't experience his greatness, then that really isn't doing you much good is it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:30 AM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm in a long distance relationship and phone calls are an issue of ours. I.. don't like phones. My boyfriend wants to talk twice a day. (We email and IM frequently, sometimes several hours a day.) I do not want to talk twice a day. His calling me and calling me until I pick up leaves me tense and frustrated.

Anyway, my point is that this:

Yet Greg Behrendt from “He’s just not that into you” jumps in and says that he calls his woman five times a day because it brightens HIS day!

is definitely, definitely not true for everybody. I can't imagine any circumstances where I would call someone five times a day, even if I were madly in love. And someone calling me five times a day would make me throw my phone out the window. So don't assume that because Greg Behrendt says it, it's true for everyone.

Refusing to call you more than once a week does seem odd, I won't deny that. But just.. bear in mind that some of us really really don't like phones, and it's not necessarily a grand statement about our feelings on the relationship (as my boyfriend always seems to interpret it!).
posted by badmoonrising at 1:30 AM on July 4, 2008

Sounds like he's having a hard time reading your mind.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:32 AM on July 4, 2008

If your partner refuses to work with you on this then that's important, but neither of you are dating Greg Behrendt, so his relationship preferences aren't important. I wouldn't like one phone call a week, but maybe some people would be okay with this. What matters is whether or not you are okay with this, and if you're not, how your partner responds to that.

I like instant messaging, text messages, and email. I would go crazy if my partner phoned me 5 times a day. I do phone him for ridiculous things (e.g. "I just saw two birds having sex!! Right out in public!! Okay bye!"), but not five times a day!
posted by heatherann at 6:33 AM on July 4, 2008

This question was worded in a very confusing way. I'm not entirely sure what you're asking. I think you're asking, "If he doesn't call me all the time, does that mean he's not into me?" To which I say: maybe, maybe not. I hate phone calls, personally, and so does my fiance. Many introverts hate phone calls as well.
posted by Nattie at 7:14 AM on July 4, 2008

This Greg person sounds insecure.

My girlfriend messages me and calls all the time. I will call maybe once a day. Because she is not insecure (and niether am I) it's not even an issue.

If you have a worry about someone not calling you, then it's you who has the problem.

You women who have to feel like you have to be the center of your man's universe: you are never going to be happy in a relationship.
posted by Zambrano at 9:14 AM on July 4, 2008

You're trying to build a case against your guy. You're trying to be the victim here by going to your girlfriends and complaining that he doesn't call you more. You're not a victim. You can say something to the guy: "this limited amount of contact doesn't work for me. I need more in order to feel connected to you." Then he can respond with either more contact or the same amount. If it's more of the same, you gauge whether you can handle that or not.

You have a preference -you would like to talk more. There is nothing, NOTHING wrong with this preference. He either has a preference of talking less, or he doesn't know you have a preference of talking more. He is not wrong for either of those scenarios. Your guy isn't doing anything TO you. His calling once a week doesn't mean anything about you. We can sit here and speculate about why he does this until we take up all of Metafilter's bandwidth and we still won't know what's on the guy's mind. You don't know either until you talk to him. But I suspect that you haven't talked to him in a direct fashion because you're afraid he'll reject you. So what's worse, flat-out rejection, or this slow torture of not knowing?
posted by desjardins at 10:08 AM on July 6, 2008

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