communication gap in dating

Dealing with communication gaps in the early days of dating.

I’m so bad at this part, I know it: dating communication gaps. I do a good job of leaving my anxiety where it belongs – on this blog and with my close girlfriends – but it exists and it drives me bananas. It’s not logical, it’s not really reflective of how I think about things, but it’s definitely a deep-seated trigger. I’m reading about attachment styles to understand it better.

A new commenter said – unfairly, in my opinion – that things are always the man’s fault with me. This is a case where I would argue Gregory has done nothing wrong. We’ve had one date and a bunch of communication since. He doesn’t have to reach out every day and I would never request it at this point. Hell, if there’s one thing I understand, it’s being busy.

But it doesn’t change the fact that a gap in communication triggers me.

It is difficult (but not impossible) to not project meaning or intention onto someone’s behavior.

If I’m not all that into someone, or once I decide they aren’t right for me, I’m not that fussed about my response times. I do try to set the person free as soon as I’ve made a decision they aren’t right for me. However, the last few weeks I’ve not had the mental capacity to write thoughtful texts to do so. There are still a couple to go.

But generally speaking, I’m a thoughtful and responsive communicator. I don’t want anyone to suffer the doubt I’ve felt. If I like someone, I want them to be secure in that knowledge. I don’t play games and make them wait before I reply.

But I’m not over the top, I can’t text all day every day. I like to have a reasonable pace of communication.

I’m also exceedingly considerate. I would never leave a conversation mid-sentence, or if I had to, the moment I came back I would say “oh sorry about that” or some such thing.

If I happen to fall asleep mid-conversation (which frankly, I’ve never done, but I know several men who do) the moment I wake up I would text. And if that was the next morning, it wouldn’t matter how busy I was… I would text.

Even if it was while making a coffee, or getting my cottage cheese out of the fridge, or even… peeing… I would send the fucking text.

When I like someone, or think I could really like someone, that’s how I roll.

So it’s very difficult for me to wrap my head around it when someone doesn’t, and still think they are into me. Because if I don’t text you back when you’ve left a question out there, it often means I’ve made a decision to not text you right away.

Sometimes I’m in meetings, or I’m with my son Liam so I can’t, but I let men know up front that my schedule often means I can’t reply right away. But I will text between meetings even if just to say “hey in meetings will reply later.”

Monday night, Gregory and I had planned to see each other. He was traveling back from another city. I didn’t hear from him during the day but didn’t think much of it; I knew he’d be driving. At 5 pm I texted “Happy Monday 🙂 – just checking in about tonight when you get a moment.” At 6:30 he replied that he got home later than expected because the weather was bad.

He asked if we could postpone until Wednesday. He said he was exhausted from the trip and had nodded off on his couch. I said “sure, no problem. Of course, I was eager to see him, but I was tired and needed to work. It was completely fine with me. Had he just canceled without mention of a reschedule, it would have sent a different message.

We exchanged several more texts, I said I was glad he got back safe because I wanted to get to date #2, and then…

Nothing.

He never replied. Not later that evening, or the next morning, or during the day.

My gut said he was into me, but it didn’t jive with how I interpreted his behavior. Because if it was me, I would have texted the moment I roused myself from the couch (I never fall asleep on the couch, but in theory…) or the next morning when I woke up. I would have said “sorry about last night! I have a bananas day but will text you later tonight.”

But nope. Maybe it’s just me. Ever the diplomat, as Hy calls me.

Later that night I texted a group chat of girlfriends to vent. And of course, as they commiserated with me about men being doofuses when it comes to communication, I got a text from Gregory: “Oh Ann hope you had a great day. Sorry about last night, I was totally exhausted and crashed hard.”

Figured.

27 thoughts on “Dealing with communication gaps in the early days of dating.

  1. Glad he eventually texted back.
    You know I struggle with at least one bad communicator. Even as a friend, he doesn’t seem to do too well. And even The Dancer doesn’t understand why he’s sending so many mixed signals. I’m not sure. And since he won’t communicate, I may never know.
    Sigh!
    Good luck with Gregory. He seems to be much better at communicating than the Bouncer!!
    XO

    • Sorry to hear the Bouncer is a crap texter. I’d say Lewis isn’t a great texter but it’s also because we are just fuck buddies. Generally he will respond when I text but often he will go a day without replying. His work is busy yadda yadda but bottom line is we make time for the things that matter. Lewis and I have an understanding… but it’s different for me when I’m starting a potential relationship with someone.

      • I agree. With the Bouncer however, we both know (and have said so) it’s more than fuck buddies. It’s at least a friendship in some ways. I guess he’s struggling with how to fit a free woman into his life, knowing I have a main partner who comes before anyone, even though he’s more than willing to leave room for him (as he’s demonstrated numerous times, changing plans last minute). I guess he needs to figure out what he wants (friendship or more) and hasn’t yet been able to do that. I guess patience is required with him. I’ve already been patient for the past 3 years. Soon I’ll deserve a medal of some sort 😂

        • Lewis is my longest “relationship” after my ex-husband. We’ve known each other for three years. I suppose I could use the term “friends with benefits” but I use “fuck buddies” because ultimately, that’s what we are. And he’s been my plus-one at a work event. Lol…

          • Yes. I guess the Bouncer is the one I’ve known the longest since I left my ex (and/or my longest relationship if you want to say it like that). But to me, if anything needed to go, it would be the sex, that’s why I say Friends With Benefits, because our friendship is something that I would hope could still grow (and boy does it need to!), even if the sex were to stop altogether (which is currently the place I’m in), hence why I don’t say fuck buddies. I’m not sure Lewis and you would be friends if there were no sex, that’s why I wasn’t surprised about the Fuck buddy term.
            😀

  2. I think i would be the same as u in the “text as soon as i can if ive fallen asleep” dept. or between meetings to say hey sorry about that i’ll get back online later. Busy now. Or something. But i cant sit there and wonder why he cant offer the same courtesy if hes as into me as he says he is. Good luck on wednesday!

    • Thank you Fondles! That’s really the thing for me… it’s hard to reconcile the behavior with how I think he feels about me. Because I’m used to men who like me actually taking at least a few minutes to check in every day.

  3. I would suggest perhaps a light face-2-face convo about his relationship with technology. Men of a GenX closer to Baby Boomer age oftentimes ignore their electronic tethers. He may be the type to dump the phone in a drawer and not touch it until he actually needs it. He might have settings that don’t remind him of unanswered messages. I speak from experience— my Ex would ignore his phone when he was home. He was almost a Luddite and hated to feel tethered. I respect those who can tune out/turn off, but it’s really not my style. I think if you can gently wiggle it into the conversation, you might get the answers you need and be able to better manage your own expectations. Good luck!!

    • Thanks Maggie, I have been thinking about how to broach the conversation – I genuinely am seeking first to understand. He is on his phone a lot, we now use WhatsApp to communicate… but he’s an entrepreneur so often is busy on his phone on international calls etc. So it seems – early impression – he’s not really big on maintaining a conversation via text. Perhaps he’s never needed to, in order to pursue someone. I’m not sure.

      I also think, as you say, when he’s home doing stuff he’s not thinking “oh I should text Ann now”. He does his stuff and certainly replies if I reach out. But I don’t want to be the one always driving the communication cadence. I need some proactivity to give me security… well, I don’t need it, but maybe better said, in the absence of it, it triggers some insecurity because I don’t know what to make of it.

      I don’t *think* it’s because he’s trying to manage some huge stable of women. That would be different for me. I suspect it’s simply not how he communicates and he prioritizes work. But that’s what I’m going to try to suss out.

  4. I so totally get where you are coming from Ann. Took me a while to get used to my main man’s style of communication. We work opposite hours so that factors in. And the other day he told me how it took him a while to even own a cell phone. He got one a bit later than most of us in the modern world. We laughed when each of us admitted to using a flip phone till about 2012 when we both finally got smart phones.
    We tend to send each other video messages a lot. I love waking up to his videos which he sends me before the sun comes up. He sometimes is already asleep when I get off work.
    The point is that I’ve accepted that he is one of those types not so tethered to his phone and that’s okay.
    I am secure in the way he feels about me now that his slow to respond behavior doesn’t really bother me. I know he’ll respond eventually.
    You’ll get there Ann…..
    I have high hopes for Gregory and you!!
    XO

    • That’s sweet about the video messages 🙂
      I think that’s the key… once you are secure in how someone feels about you and your relationship status, and you get used to each others patterns, it’s much different. I’m not there yet!

  5. As a gentleman, we do not communicate well, that being said, it doesn’t mean we aren’t thinking about you. In my case, my priorities differ from my lovers and we have a discussion about that. I’m sure Gregory was intent on contacting you earlier but life happens.

    • Thank you Al. I appreciate the comment because it’s hard for me to understand why, if you’re thinking about me, you can’t drop me a quick note to say so. Are you different when it’s someone you want a relationship with?

  6. I struggle with this as well. The best advice that really helped me is to just think about it like you’re texting your girlfriends. You would barely notice if they did not text back right away. I’ve used this before and it helped me to dial it down a notch and reframe my thoughts. I’m glad he got back to you though:)

    • Thank you Charlotte. I agree with you it’s helpful to reframe so that you can worry less. For me, it’s also about the fact that I use texting between dates as a way to keep the flirtation going and build desire. I also think it’s good to let people know you’re thinking about them… so I guess I feel like I’m not moving anything forward with Gregory. Which is weird.

  7. Gregory’s texting behavior seems totally reasonable to me given the situation. And promising, too, as he appears not to be one of the many who are consumed by their phones to the extent they are unable to turn their phone off for basic activities like having dinner, taking a run, talking with a friend, watching a movie, playing with a child, etc.

    • Thanks for your perspective, Steve. I would agree he’s not consumed by his phone – but he is on it a lot. In the time he was silent with me, he posted to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. He’s also on his phone all of the time for work. But seems he doesn’t feel the need to connect with a woman he (ostensibly) likes and wants to pursue, using texting.

  8. I’m on your side with this. There’s no excuse for being inconsiderate. Sometimes not saying something says a lot. If he’s like this in the early phase of a relationship, will he get better or worse down the road? I think the early communications lays the groundwork for a good relationship. He may not mean to be inconsiderate, it may just be the way he is, but if you and he are not on the same wavelength with communication, then you have to consider if you want to deal with his style long term.

    • I don’t think he’d see it as inconsiderate, it’s simply a different style. One I don’t like lol… for me the real test will be if I bring it up, what does he say and what does he do.

        • I will bring up something, just not sure what. While it would piss me off if he’s not texting me but engaging with others (because for me that signals I’m not a priority at all) I don’t think that’s the real issue. Right now I think I would say something along the lines of how it has me off kilter because I don’t know how to interpret his general lack of proactive contact. But then again that sounds like a criticism and I’m truly trying to understand.

  9. Damn this is SO much like me, I create all these freaking scenarios in my head as to why I am not get a text and I have actually been at the point where I have almost wanted to send a “Eff you” text and then I get a response and there is usually a reasonably legitimate reason they did not text… Except, while I had to stereotype I do think men just do not think the way women do when it comes to text conversations and they also don’t multi task as well such as text while making morning coffee etc.
    I do wish though that men would start how they mean to go one, why start with rapid fire text blitz and then go to radio silence!!

    • I have found a few men whose style matches mine, but more often than not they are shitty texters or they are completely over the top like John.
      But yes, it did cross my mind that the few times he went silent were because he was on a date with someone else. I don’t think that’s been the case, but I’ve also been fooled before. It’s entirely different for me if he’s simply his style, than if the reason he’s not putting the communication effort into me is because he’s busy with others.

  10. I think your fears are reasonable, not justified or anything, but I would feel that way too. I know it’s a bit early atm but once it discussed about exclusivity communication styles can come up. You can’t expect him to line up with you if he just is old school and doesn’t have his phone out. My mom is 60 and a horrible texted but could talk on the phone all day. Men aren’t usually as good at communicating as women in general and there is the age. I even remember a time before cell phones were widely used and I’m 34. On the same token, he can, as respect for you maybe learn to always say good morning and good night. Just to let you know he is thinking of you.

    • Thank you Morava. I agree on style differences. With Gregory, he is on his phone (see comment above re: his social media posting during this time)… and he’s such a good communcator in person it surprises me a little he hasn’t figured out what he might want to do when he’s pursuing someone. Assuming he’s pursuing me. Lol. And therein is my issue… I *think* he is but it doesn’t feel that way. We’ll see what happens if I choose to bring it up.

What do you think?