How Do I Stop Over-Analyzing How My Boyfriend Communicates?

Hi Evan – I’m a 35-year-old divorced professional that stumbled across your blog when searching for something, anything that would help me gain perspective on relationships. For all my confidence in the professional world, I’m lost when it comes to personal relationships! I’m unsure of what I want, or what would be good for me. I analyze everything (I’m an engineer) and have a hard time letting go and enjoying myself. That said, I have come a long way lately, and much of it is due to what I have learned through you (I loved “Why He Disappeared” and have read it twice!!)

I’m hoping you might be able to offer some guidance on my current situation. I met a man online who I’ve been dating for about 5 months. He’s divorced, has a good job, one child (I haven’t met yet, which is OK), we’re very compatible, have similar life goals and views on life in general. I have a great time when I’m with him and feel very comfortable and able to be myself. He didn’t rock my world when we first met, but I’ve learned that sometimes you have to give it a little time. But….(there had to be one) I get frustrated by his communication style (or lack thereof.)

We talk fairly regularly and, for the most part, he’s reliable and consistent. However, there have been more than a few instances of lapses that leave me feeling frustrated, confused, and disrespected. And that’s what I don’t know how to evaluate. Are these instances dealbreakers? Are they examples of a guy that really doesn’t care? I just don’t know. We had planned to do a day trip on a Saturday. He texted me on Friday to ask if we’re still on. I replied that, yes, we were, and then I never heard back from him. I called him at 8:30 that night and left a message. I woke up on Saturday and got myself ready and still hadn’t heard from him by 10:30 that morning. I texted him to ask if plans had changed, and he immediately called me back (from bed) and said that he was exhausted and just wanted to sleep in a bit. I calmly told him how it bothered me that he never communicated what the plan was. I told him I needed more communication than that. We still ended up going and had a great time.

Another example? He was 40 minutes late getting to my house the other day and never called to let me know he was going to be late. Sometimes I’ll text him a question and never hear back. I might take a picture of something (the beach I’m sitting on, my friends’ children) that I know he’d enjoy, and I never get an acknowledgement. They’re just little things, but I find them inconsiderate. I know that I can tend to make a big deal about little things, and I don’t want to do that now. I know that he’s really a great guy, that he’s not seeing anyone else, that he cares about me. He’s considerate, attentive and tries constantly to please me when we’re together. You have described over and over what a good guy does for a women he wants to be with. I honestly can’t tell if this guy is coming up short or not. I’ve lost my perspective! I’m 5 months in. Do I fish or cut bait? When do you say “when?”

Beth

Dear Beth,

If I were to talk with your boyfriend, what annoying qualities would he tell me that you had?

If I were to talk with your boyfriend, what annoying qualities would he tell me that you had?

My wife would tell you pretty much what you can already figure out on your own: I’m a know-it-all. I can be sarcastic and short-tempered. I don’t suffer fools gladly. I can’t fix a single thing around the house. I don’t always listen carefully. I can be overly critical.

There’s more, but a man’s gotta have a little mystery.

As for my wife, she has only two flaws:

She has never thrown out anything ever. We have shoes from 1989, dresses from 1995, and saltines from 2003. I kid you not.

She is perpetually 15 minutes late. I don’t understand people like this. Just start 15 minutes earlier! But her family warned me about “Bridget Time” when we first met. Shockingly, it hasn’t changed in the time we’ve known each other.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t bring up her 2 bad habits all the time (MY flaw – critical,) but rather that asking her to change is like her asking me to stop being a know-it-all.

Not gonna happen.

We both have flaws. We both have to grin and bear it. And we both feel that the strengths of the relationship far outweigh the fact that I have to bring reading material wherever I go because of her slow pace, and she always has to listen to me rant about Republicans, customer service, and money. (I know: I’m a charmer!)

Anyway, I know I’ve hijacked your question to talk about myself once again, but I think it bears great relevance on your situation with your quality boyfriend.

I’m not going to defend the lapses in his behavior whatsoever. It IS inconsiderate to not call to confirm plans. It IS inconsiderate not to let you know he’s running late.

But unless you want to scrap your entire relationship for these occasionally frustrating incidents, all you can do is ask him to be more considerate with such matters in the future.

If you make something a dealbreaker, it’s a dealbreaker.

If you put up with it, it’s just a quirk.

If he loves you, he will do his best to honor your request.

And then he’ll forget, because that’s who he is.

And you’ll put up with it and make jokes about it and live a very happy life together.

Of course, you could “cut bait,” but your future boyfriend would have some intolerable characteristics as well.

If you make something a dealbreaker, it’s a dealbreaker.

If you put up with it, it’s a quirk.

Your call, my friend.

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Comments:

  1. 91
    Megan

    Thank you all so much for the comments and the original post. This has helped me a lot to have an new out look on my situation that is similar to Beth’s. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 10 months and 3 days, and he randomly stops responding to texts and sometimes goes days with out texting me, or calling. He sometimes tries to change plans last minute, but when I get upset at his trying to change it, he lets it go and goes along with the original plan. We have talked on many occasions about his lack of communication, and in fact we talked about it on this past Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday being our 10 month. Every time we talk about it, he apologizes and  say’s he’ll change, but doesn’t. He still randomly stops talking to me after a few hours of talking he will just disappear. He started working again today, but before that he was talking to me, and suddenly stopped talking, and that was at 11:45 today. He started work at 5 and will finish at 10 tonight. We are suppose to Skype tonight, because he promised I hope it comes through or I know I’ll be devastated if it doesn’t. I came on looking for advice to stop over anaylizing  his silence, because ever since his best friend joked about him dating other girls at the same time as me, I’ve had that sense of doubt. Kristian would never do that, but it’s still there. Thank you for all the advice I found from this site, it has helped me greatly.  I know his silence means he is with either with others, or he is busy, he has this thing where he doesn’t like being on his phone when he is with other people. he wants them to feel important, so he doesn’t do it. But still, is it so hard that he can’t simply say he won’t be able to talk for a while? Anyway. I will take this advice to heart, and take his reasons and silences for what the truly are, and will confront him again about this topic. Thank you all. :)
    ~Megan Beacham

  2. 92
    Olivia

    hahahaha people here are so delusional
    I don’t deal with flakey people period. OF COURSE IT WOULD BE A DEALBREAKER. It should be for ANYONE. If you put up with people telling you they’re on the same page and going to meet you at a certain time and then they decide they don’t feel like it, by all means tell that person what an asshole they are and cut them out of your life. After enough people do this to them maybe they’ll finally get it. Why accept something like that? That IS something that people need to change, whether they’re in a relationship or not. 

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