Why Won’t My Boyfriend Text Me Back?

Why Won’t My Boyfriend Text Me Back?


I have spent the past 10 months with the greatest man. He had me from the start, but we took our time and moved slowly in order to build what I believe is the deepest love I’ve ever known. We talk about our future and he includes me in his big decisions (buying a house, getting engaged, moving, etc.) We have an open and honest relationship where we can speak our minds and work to better ourselves. He is in the military and he deploys in November. His job is demanding, but not to the point where he is unable to make a daily phone call. Which brings me to my problem.

My boyfriend makes little effort to contact me through the week. He may call once or twice and speak for less than 5 minutes. I will even text and not hear back from him. I am not used to this type of behavior from someone I am dating, especially someone I love. He is the same way with his friends and family. I’ve mentioned it to him several times, and he says that he will try to do better. It never happens. We live 30 miles away and only see each other on the weekends (which is why communication is so important). My needs are not being met but I do not want to end something wonderful for something that could easily be fixed. When I mentioned it to him a second time he pulled out his phone to show me a flower order he had purchased to send me the next day (yes, I felt like an idiot). Am I asking too much for him to keep contact with me through the week? I worry that if his communication skills are so terrible now that deployment will be impossible. Please help. —Lacy


Some of the best advice I ever got was this:

“When someone shows you who he is, believe him.”

Your boyfriend is showing you who he is. Believe him.

Make no mistake, it sounds like he’s a good man who sincerely loves you and sees a future with you. At the same time, it’s also obvious that despite his charms, he’s not a particularly good communicator.

Nor is he likely to be.

Not to make sweeping generalizations, but, well… a guy in the military is probably not going to be an ideal partner. He doesn’t control his own schedule. He keeps odd hours. He may be deployed for months at a time. He’s constantly surrounded by testosterone, not estrogen. He believes in structure and following orders.

When you told him your needs (call me before bed, just to say good night), he should have hopped to attention as if his Staff Sergeant were barking at him.

And if the best thing that a man can do to be a great partner is to pick up on his wife’s emotional cues and do little things to make her life better, a military man has to be somewhere at the bottom of the list.

This is not to say that there are no sensitive and loyal men in the Army or no happy wives of Marines, but that the stereotypical military man is not an ideal husband and many military relationships are strained by distance and communication.

But your guy is different. Your love is deeper. He understands you.


So when you told him your needs (call me before bed, just to say good night), he should have hopped to attention as if his Staff Sergeant were barking at him.

Except he didn’t.

Because he doesn’t want to talk to you that much.

Because he’s too busy to talk to you that much.

Because it’s not that important to please you.

Because that’s just not how he’s wired.

The answer could be all of the above or none of the above. Doesn’t really matter.

He’s shown you who he is.

Are you going to believe him? Are you going to accept him?

Some women can be content, knowing that they have a deep love, even if they only see their hubby three months out of the year and Skype him once a week.

Others cannot.

It’s up to you, Lacy, to decide which woman you are.

Just don’t spend much more effort trying to change him.

Lay out your terms one last time. This is what it takes to please me.

If your relationship is worth preserving and your request is reasonable, I assure you, he’ll honor it. If it’s all too much trouble for him, he won’t.

Either way, you’ll have your answer and you can sleep well knowing that you couldn’t have done anything “better” to make things work.

Hope it all works out for you.

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  1. 1


    Evan is right on this one, and I have had to learn this the hard way. My ex husband was the same as this guy you are with right now. He was not a good communicator and would get angry with me for asking him to please communicate with me, while we were dating long distance.

    He showed me who he was. I should have believed it. If I had, I never would have married such a mean, selfish, uncommunicative partner.

    You’ve asked him several times and let him know about your needs. He’s not meeting your needs. It may be time to end this now, before he deploys. Because trust me, it gets worse when he deploys. My BFF goes off the radar a LOT while he deploys in Afghanistan, and usually he does 6 month tours. It is frustrating since I live in his house and take care of it for him, but it is what it is. I’m used to it and accept it, but I am not married to the guy.

    I hope things work out for you. I totally understand how you feel, having dated military men, and it’s hard. Hang in there and let us know how things work out?

    Hugs to you…..

  2. 2
    Flower White

    “My needs are not being met but I do not want to end something wonderful for something that could easily be fixed.”

    Yes it’s easy to fix and he’s not fixing it. Your needs are not getting met and its going to get worse, not better. He has you on his terms.
    “He had me from the start” …in your heart you know how this is gonna end up. You may marry and be unhappy or you may end it and get over it and leave room for a man who will meet your needs.

    Good luck to you.

  3. 3
    Karl R

    Lacy said:
    “I do not want to end something wonderful for something that could easily be fixed.”

    I do not consider other people’s flaws to be something that can “easily be fixed” by me. I don’t even consider it possible.

    It is often possible for me to accept other people’s flaws without them changing at all.

    Lacy said:
    “My needs are not being met”

    If he needs to change in order for your needs to be met, then the relationship isn’t going to work out. That’s true for more than just this situation.

  4. 4

    I’ve never dated a man in the military, so I can’t speak to the unique challenges that situation brings. Putting aside those specific challenges, it might be a good to re-examine expectations.

    “I am not used to this type of behavior from someone I am dating, especially someone I love”

    This is an expectation from other men that is being applied to this man. Men are notoriously not great communicators and often are not big phone talkers. Their sense of time and connection is not the same as ours.

    Men are NOT women.

    Now, if you started off the letter to Evan saying he DIDN’T include you in his life plans, didn’t see you each weekend, NEVER talked during the week (you said it’s a couple of times a week for short periods of time), that you felt very uncomfortable speaking your mind, etc.–then that would be a different story.

    “He is the same way with his friends and family.”

    So it’s just not you, it’s the way he is. You cannot change another person, you may just have to accept this as who he is and change expectations accordingly.

    You can date and date and date, trying to find that perfect man who meets all your expectations. Or, you can get ‘real’ and shoot for 80%, ’cause that’s all it’s ever going to be, no matter who the man is.

    Once he deploys and is gone for a long period of time (like in an extended business trip), then a firm agreement ahead of time regarding communications would be in order. However, I would be sure to negotiate something he knows/feels (and you know/feel) he can meet so you’re not disappointed and he doesn’t get discouraged because he can’t make you happy. In other words, asking him to communicate each day is setting him up for failure and you up for disappointment.

  5. 5
    Robin Cockrell

    I can say I was once one of those that just didn’t return text or answer phone calls all the time. It didn’t mean I didn’t care, it was just me. It drove me nuts to get a text while I was working. My current boyfriend used to text me to death. It was annoying, so I just didn’t answer all of them.

    Finally we talked about it and I realized that it is important to him and he realized that too much was driving me insane. We reached a compromise. Now he calls everyday at lunchtime and only texts to occasionally flirt or if something important comes up.

    Moral, I cared enough about him to reciprocate as I realized it meant a lot to him. Hopefully if you can discuss it in a non blaming way, he will do the same. If not, well as Evan said, you have your answer.

  6. 6

    It sounds like you need a better communicator. This guy might be great, b/c I don’t subscribe to the idea that anyone who can’t change his personality for you is a beast.

    If he was attentive and chatty with everyone but you, I’d say it’s about you, but this is about who he is. It doesn’t sound like you’d be happy with a military husband who also isn’t FREE to call you everyday if he’s away from you.

    So find someone who can do that or accept that you’re going to spend your life with a guy who doesn’t talk a lot.

    I predict a lot of women who will talk about how awful he is, but if the tables were turned, the same women would think it was awful if a man was trying to change them.

    There is a lid for every pot, and it sounds like this isn’t a good fit for you.

  7. 7

    Karl R said:

    If he needs to change in order for your needs to be met, then the relationship isn’t going to work out. That’s true for more than just this situation.

    Isn’t that the truth. I wish that I could have told that to my ex husband! He wanted me to change and be someone I wasn’t, when in fact he had a ton of his own issues that he would not face, himself. He was unwilling to change anything about himself, and voila, the result was a divorce, the following year.

  8. 8

    Evan, your posts are so direct and yet so hard for us women to understand. But I think I am finally getting it through my thick head: a guy does what he wants.
    It really is that simple.
    As I wade gingerly back into dating, I am taking deep breaths and keeping you on my shoulder, Evan, even though I’m not sure if you’re the angel or the devil. 🙂

    1. 8.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I’m neither the angel nor the devil. That would imply I had some sort of agenda. My agenda is to provide truth, insight and explanation for male dating behaviors so that you can adjust (or not adjust) accordingly. If you find that what I say is true and therefore helpful, you’ll find me to be an angel on your shoulder. If you perpetually disagree with me and my observations about men, you’ll probably find me to be the devil. But I would also submit that anyone who disagrees with me on most things does probably not do very well in connecting with men.

      1. 8.1.1

        I agree with Evan an appreciate good advice coming from a man ,,especially when it comes to question about men..

  9. 9

    There’s something curious about your letter Lacy. It’s as if the first paragraph and the second paragraph are talking about different relationships. Except they aren’t. You see this man only on the weekends, right? And the communication during the week is sparse at best. It strikes me that the openness and honest quality of the relationship might be time-dependent. What I mean by that is that your boyfriend can handle being open and honest and caring when the relationship is mostly a weekend thing. It’s not something he has to do on daily basis with you. As of now, you don’t know whether he can actually be that partner who is able to maintain and grow a committed relationship based on openness, honesty, working together, and the rest. Maybe he can, but maybe he can’t. Until you can express to him why it’s important to you that he call/text/or even see you more during the week, then it’s hard to know if he’s willing to meet you in the middle somewhere or not.

    With that said, I’m wondering why you still only see each other on the weekends. 30 miles apart isn’t much at all. Plenty of people are willing to commute a few hours to spend time with their significant others, even if it’s only a short time. This feels like a long distance relationship, without the distance, and without the kind of communication in between visits that is commonplace amongst healthy long distance relationships. Perhaps I’m missing something, but it just doesn’t all add up in my opinion.

  10. 10

    Nathan, perhaps you missed the part about how the dude is in the military. His time is probably very rigidly structured. Even when off duty, his time is probably not really his own.

    IMO, Lacy sounds too needy; others may differ. Certainly she needs more reassurance than this bloke can provide.

  11. 11

    Nathan, it’s interesting that you point that out, because that is VERY typical of alot of military relationships. I’ve dated several men in the military and most could not handle daily relationships. And my BFF would back me up on this, he’s come home telling me stories of relationships ending left and right, because of tensions at home. Folks back home wanting to check in, talk to their partner/spouse, and the folks overseas, either unable to or unwilling to communicate regularly with them.

    Not that I am bashing military people for one second; they are doing us a service by protecting our country. However, as EMK has pointed out, often these folks are just not ideal partners. My BFF even gently intervened after a few times of my getting my feelings hurt over military servicemen or contractors who would ditch out on a relationship, and said that I should consider not dating them. He was right, of course, and I had to stop accepting dates from these guys, even though they are a dime a dozen here in Washington DC. It really narrowed my dating pool a good bit, but it was for the best.

    It is very, very difficult to be in a military relationship and for those who are doing it and are making it work, kudos to them and I have much respect. But it is a tough road to walk, and not for everyone. And for Lacey, like I said earlier, if this guy just isn’t willing to give you what you need, it might be time to get out now. It’ll only get harder when he deploys.

    1. 11.1

      I learned a valuable lesson from a Army Ranger officer I was dating. He was living 3 hours away but called me every morning as I got ready for work, every lunch break (his and mine) and every evening before bed at a time I indicated I would be available.

      although very touched I was concerned I was taking too much of his time, keeping him from taking care of his own needs so I told him he didn’t Have to call me every minute he had off if he had things he needed to take care of. His response was one of those “ah hah!” moments of me understanding some part of the male mind. He said:

      “I Know I don’t have to call you. I Know I don’t have to see you, spend time with you or have a relationship with you. This is America, I’m an adult over the age of consent, educated, travelled, cultured. I am well aware of my rights and responsibilities.

      So … if I CHOOSE to get up an hour early to speak with you, hear your voice all sleepy and sexy with that morning roughness so my day (and yours) begins with an understanding I’m thinking of you even as I’m driving to the office or brushing my teeth, if I CHOOSE to walk out of the office at noon to call you, hopefully hear you laugh or maybe whisper some sexy words to tell you I’m still thinking of you, wanting you, fantasizing about you even during the serious demands of my work day, and that I CHOOSE to call you before (or during) sliding into bed so that I can hear how your day was, think about you then I’m doing it because it’s something I Want to do.

      Believe me, if I didn’t want to there’s nothing you or anyone else could do to make me.   So unless it bothers You, I’m going to Keep calling because I like you, I like hearing from you, I wish we could be together but until then This what I Can do so I will. I’m a man, an officer, a [email protected]&ing Army Ranger … making a phone call is Certainly NOT the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life … and as long as You are the woman I want, I’ll do whatever I need to to make things work because there isn’t anything I can’t or won’t do for someone I care for.”

      That shut me up and told me if a man calls it’s because he wants to so don’t sabotage that. Like EMK often says “let the man do the man thing … don’t take it away from him.”

      and if he’s not calling you then he’s telling you where he stands, which means he’s not the Man for you. (I learned that this last relationship where my BF said “I’ll call in an hour” then didn’t call at all and didn’t email till the next day (we were supposed to be leaving the next day for a trip and I needed info to prepare).   When I asked what happened he said “[email protected] happens. So? Yeah I’m an a$$hole but stop being a Princess and making a big deal. I didn’t call. Deal with it).

      We gals need to listen even when we don’t want to hear it

  12. 12

    Evan, I think this is one of the best postings you have made, and you’ve made many great ones. Very true to human nature, and so very well said.

  13. 13

    Joe – I don’t hear needy at all. I hear someone who wants more than a weekend relationship. That’s what she has right now.

    As for your point about the military, I didn’t miss it. And you may be right that this guy only has time on the weekend, but we really don’t know that for sure. Theoretically, one could argue that someone in the military is basically owned. That none of their time isn’t really their time at all. However, it’s also the case that there are people out there making relationships work, despite being full time in the military.

    This is more about conflicting needs for communication than his job. Needs – not neediness.

  14. 14

    I once had a new bf who was naturally a poor communicator — we had to be apart for 3 mos and he was bad abt calling. I finally told him it would mean a lot if he called every evening. Well, he started calling every evening bc it was a simple thing that made me happy! Some dating advice makes it seem like you should never ask a guy to do something, and should just suck it up or dump him if you don’t like it. But if a guy likes you, he won’t mind that you brought up such an issue and will easily fix it. If he doesn’t, thats a problem …

  15. 15

    I love this question, it is something I too experience. I have known my boyfriend 4 years, dated for 3 less a few months when I broke up with him, mostly because I felt like I needed more communication. Like your boyfriend, mine is absolutely wonderful when we are together, we have a better deeper more emotionally intimate relationship than I ever had with my ex husband. We are open and honest and can tell each other anything. Because of our schedules, we occasionally see each other during the week, but mostly just weekends. He too knows that I like to hear from him more during the week and sometimes he really does try, but it simply isn’t in his nature. My solution to this is simple. Since it bugged me so much when I would text or call and then not hear back from him, I just stopped. Stoppped calling or texting him completely and stopped expecting to hear from him every day and instead chose to accept him for who he is. The amazing thing, now I actually hear from him more often and when I don’t, I know I will so when he does finally call, instead of complaining and saying why didn’t you call me, I am open, loving and tell him how nice it feels when he calls. He has commented on how much nicer it feels when I say that to him than when I complained. The other thing I do, if he doesn’t call in time to arrange a date, I have something else lined up. He is getting better at calling me early and asking me out. He is better at calling early instead of that day or the day before, is being on time and is doing more to help me around the house. Our relationship right now is better than it has ever been. So, my advice. lay off of him. Leave him alone. Don’t worry if you don’t hear from in a couple of days and when he does call, and of course he will, be nice, loving and open. Oh, and most importantly: Quit making him the center of your universe and get busy living your life and your own passions. You can bet he is living his.

    1. 15.1

      Hello Catherine, I was reading through these comments for advice on a similiar situation with my relationship and you just helped me out a whole bunch.  

    2. 15.2

      i have a similar situation. my and boyfriend work 2 weeks on one off so we only see each other on days off. And during his time in he hardly texts me at night or calls me anymore. And I’m definitely gonna try leaving him be and be my happy self when I do hear from him. Thanks

    3. 15.3

      Thank you Catherine you have helped me to understand that either I accept the way my bf is or not. He is a farmacist, he is renovating his house and says to me he doesn’t like texting, neither do I, but I do not receive from him a good morning or good night text or a call, if ever there is one occasionally!. I have to sleep or at least have to try to go bed by 9 or ten at night, he knows that. He get off from work at 8 or 8:30.he seem he adors me when we are together, but then he goes almost as if he is gone for good. Help me to understand what to do.

    4. 15.4

      Thank you!   Well said….you made me open my eyes about my boyfriend.   Thanks for an direct answer!

    5. 15.5

      Catherine! Like so many have said – you hit it on the head. I am in pretty much the SAME relationship as you are. So – I did what you did a couple months ago – i quit trying to change him (ugh, did I really even do that before?!). In very large part, thanks to reading Evan’s advice. It’s worked wonders! And same here: our relationship is better than it’s ever been. He has been more supportive, loving and open, and yes – he is much better at communicating now that I’m encouraging rather than complaining. He puts forth so much effort. Who would’ve thunk?!

      Oh by the way, he’s of course not “perfect” – as I sit here, he hasn’t texted me in a little over a day – but like you, I now just shrug and get busy and know I’ll hear from him soon enough. It’s just the way he is. When he does text – and I know he will – I’ll be super happy and not angry or reprimanding. He puts up with my annoying faults, and his are no longer deal-breakers for me – now that I’ve shifted my attitude to be, “we have to accept the people we love and quit trying to change them.” Accepting people the way they are, and no longer expecting them to change, is SUCH a relief, I can’t even tell you.

      And yes, only when you truly accept people for who they are, can you decide whether you still want/need to use the “nuclear option” – i.e., walking away. Is low communication from my otherwise-wonderful man a deal breaker? Heck, no! (with my new attitude shift, anyway.) But for others, it could be. Your choice!

  16. 16
    Happy Person

    From a military family here, two generations. I’d say that my military brother’s marriage is the most stable I know of. As was my parents’. They’re stable BECAUSE of the rigid struture of that system. That said, it takes a certain kind of woman to marry into that system. Touchy feely it ain’t. Chatty it ain’t. People who go into the military tend to be good at duty, obligation, dependability, responsibility, etc. So if you are looking for a relationship with those things at the center, a military guy is a good pick. If you want loads of communication, personal flexibility, creativity, and individual attention, you probably aren’t going to find it in that lifestyle.

    I chose the latter, myself. Not into the military thing. (Sorry, Dad. Love ya anyway.) 🙂

  17. 17

    @ Happy Person, bingo, you nailed it. I didn’t really know how to explain a military family or relationship but you’ve got it right on the nose. Many military spouses can’t talk to their loved ones for weeks or months. My BFF often can’t email me for a month or two at a time, thank heavens there has only been one emergency in the two years he’s been rotating on and off duty overseas, and was able to finally reach him. If you can handle that kind of relationship/marriage, well hey, more power to you and blessings too.

    @ Joe, Lacey mentioned they’ve been together for months, so this is a LTR, and I think in an LTR there absolutely should be regular communication and her post didn’t come off as one bit needy. It doesn’t sound like she whined, threw a tantrum, gave ultimatums. She just asked simply to have her needs addressed. If that is neediness to you, you might have some issues in a relationship. If we women can’t feel like we can express our needs and feelings with a guy, then we’ll either do two things. Shut down, or shut you out. And usually if that happens with me, with a guy, he gets shut out. I’m just sayin. 🙂

  18. 18

    I dated a guy for 2 years who regularly had to be out the country for a month at a time about 4 times a year. When he was here, we were together every night, even though we didn’t live together. When he was away, he called me every evening for an hour, never missed a day. He was a guy who was switched on to what women want and made sure he delivered it, as the relationship served his purposes at the time and he was keen to keep it going. But here’s the thing: despite all that, he never committed to me, never took his eye off his own agenda and looking back I do not think he ever INTENDED to commit to me, although he made all the right noises to keep me happy. Just saying, daily phonecalls aren’t everything…..

  19. 19

    There are different types of people out there. Those who love and cling and those who love and detach. Its a personality trait and can be seen in mostly men and some women. In deepening the relationship, they then retract because its the way they are. Theres a pyschological personality system that helps explain this better. For example, I bet hes also a quiet guy, has a poker face, secretive, etc, love is shown through physical acts, rather than words.

    Evan is right. He shows you who he is and you can only decide if he is enough. Good luck!

  20. 20

    I think military guy is the clue here. I’ve been lucky enough to have dated some lovely young officers, and although I’ve been very impressed by them and honoured by their attention (ignore the stereotypes – the men I was with were decent, honourable, well travelled, capable, traditionally minded young men in a profession I for one am proud of – not to mention the killer six packs! ;-)) I wouldn’t consider one for a LTR.

    Their life is very much constrained by their surroundings/colleagues and any relationship they have, however serious, is expected to fit in with that. I really did laugh at and “get” the comment about the flowers – they absolutely love you and you get those gestures or random phone calls that make you go “aaaaahhhhh” and it feels 100 times more intense than all the civvy guys you’ve ever dated (let me guess those weekends you spend together there is no doubt he REALLY wants to be with you and quite frankly you’re swooning in his masculine presence. And because they don’t get to see women that often and spouses are easier to work into the lifestyle than girlfriends, when they move in on a girl they’re serious about, they MOVE – its meet the colleagues, parents, talk marriage, get exclusive ASAP) .

    But if its important to have some support when X happens in your daily life then you just don’t get it. For some women, fine – they have a big support network at home OR they decide to accept that pay-off in return for a particular man.

    But imagine when something REALLY bad happens work or family wise, and you can’t talk to your man about it and you miss him so much. Then by the time you do see him – three months later – its all built up inside you and you’re sort of angry at him for not being there when everyone else is. And then he’s a bit miffed that you’re upset and crying and spoiling the one night when he’s managed to get time off to come see you and he’s been on exercise for three weeks and wanted it to be JUST perfect to make all the waiting worth it…. No right or wrong here, but I think that’s a relatively common experience – your own emotional life has to tie in with his schedule. It might be a problem, it might not be. Some women love the highs and the lows and the intensity – I loved it for a time, but I’m not sure that its a way to constantly live.

    As Evan so brilliantly puts it, its up to you. You might consider changing the goal of the relationship – enjoy him whilst you have him, smile at and be grateful for the good memories you’ve created together, but don’t consider him a long term prospect. Or ask yourself if you can change yourself and if you’ll be happy with accepting that things aren’t going to massively change on his side.

    Whatever you do, I think you should monitor your feelings carefully that there’s not some underlying resentment building up over the lack of contact/communication. And all the best (and do enjoy that feeling when you see your man get out the taxi after a long time away – I suspect it’ll be one of those great memories when you’re old!)

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