Every month, Thomas will be answering your pressing relationship Qs. If you've got one, email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask away!
Hey Thomas . . .
The guy I've been seeing for about 5 weeks is really bad on the texts. We talk almost every day but sometimes he takes hours to get back to me — even when I know he's not at work! He usually initiates the conversations, I reply pretty quickly and then BOOM, silence.
It frustrates me no end because I hate game-playing . . . but I don't want to seem demanding this early on. How do I bring it up with him without seeming needy? Will he take it the wrong way?
The impatient girl on her phone.
Hey Girl On Her Phone,
Firstly I'd like to congratulate you on coming to the right place. It's clear you're in need of a little textual healing and ever since I got my chubby fingers on a NOKIA 3310 way back in Year 7, I've been a digital doctor of love.
Now let's hit reply on your broken heart and see if we can't get to the bottom of this situation.
First up, five weeks is fresh. This is the teething period of your texting relationship. You're both still finding your flirt feet. You've moved past the "Hey you out?" text on a Saturday night and graduated to the "Are you having a nice day?" period.
However, at this embryonic stage texting can still be easily misconstrued, so the fact he's playing it (super) safe doesn't come as a big surprise.
It's also worth remembering that he is initiating a lot of the time before going MIA — a classic male messaging move. He wants you to think he's casually fired off a text before heading to the pub with his friends. Naturally, you reply and are left in that sickening limbo land, checking your phone every 25 seconds to see if a text has come in.
The next thing you know, it's two o'clock in the morning, you've switched your phone on and off 500 times and are now on hold to Apple, quietly sobbing into your CryPhone, whispering to yourself, "Everything changed when Steve Jobs died."
The reality is that he is probably going through the same emotional roller coaster as you. Guys love perpetuating the myth that texting is a 'girl thing.' Well I'm here to shatter that stigma and declare that texting and testosterone go hand in hand.
A close friend of mine is currently seeing this girl and watching him do the dance has been genuinely terrifying/bad for our friendship. In the flesh it's all going well, but when it comes to texting he falls apart. He spends hours trying to write and rewrite the perfect text, slowly edging closer to breaking point.
Can't be too keen, can't be too aloof. She's gotta think I'm busy, but not disinterested. How do I sign off? Do I call her babe? What if it autocorrects to baby? Am I her baby? Do I want an actual baby? I'm gonna be a Dad.
It's been a slippery slope.
Anyway, his text-induced breakdown aside, the point is that you're right to feel frustrated. If my suspicions are correct (and let's be honest they almost certainly are, otherwise I wouldn't have this flash column), old mate is probably just crippled by his own SMS shortcomings.
The question is, do you A) call him out straight up on the texting — "Hey I saw those three dots on the phone so you must've been typing but then you never replied so I'm not sure what's going on, you've been doing it a lot lately. P.S. WHERE ARE YOU?"
Or do you B) play it smart and use the issue as a chance to move things forward?
The correct answer is B. Ultimately, the texting stuff belongs to the main issue, which is your potential relationship. The bottom line is that his erratic texting is making you wonder if he's playing games, which makes you wonder if he's legit about the love story that is your life together.
But at five weeks in, the smart call is to forget the smaller issue — slow texting — and consider the bigger picture — the actual vibe between you.
Rather than ask why he leaves you hanging on a text, say something that puts the focus where it should be. "Hey, busy week for both of us but I missed you today! Dinner tomorrow?" If he's serious about seeing you, but seriously inept at texting, he'll jump at the chance to spend time with you. This approach means you don't seem needy (something everybody dreads) and it's hard for him to take it the wrong way. It also opens up the possibility to grow the relationship to a point where you no longer need to read between the lines on every message, and ain't that the dream?
Anyway here's hoping it works out and if you have any further questions just text me, I'll be sure to hit you back . . . ASAP.