Ask Joey: No cake, no candles
Three months ago my boyfriend moved to Southern California for a new job. I don’t want to lose him. I write him an email every day to keep in touch, because it’s really hard to sync our schedules so we can talk by phone or Skype. At first, he would write me an email back. Now he mainly sends one-word responses, like “Thanks” or “Great.” I text him, too, but I still get one-word replies. Do you think he is seeing someone else? Does he want to break up with me? His birthday is coming up, and I’ve been thinking about flying down there to surprise him. What do you think?
Won’t he be surprised to discover that your visit is actually an investigation of his waning attention? And what happens if he accuses you of having an agenda well beyond celebrating his birthday? Let’s put the cake and candles aside for the moment. Attending to your pity party is more important.
So, your man is distant and you don’t know why. He might be busy trying to shine at his new job. He could be attracted to a co-worker or neighbor. But it’s more likely that your communication is increasingly needy. He’s avoiding it. Sometimes an information vacuum inspires fear. Without realizing it, you chose words that whine for reassurance of his affection and commitment. The lack of feedback from your guy highlighted your deepest fears of loss or abandonment. Be assured: It’s natural to want to hold on to someone you care about. But you must accept that if a relationship you value changes or ends, you are still loveable, secure and esteemed. You are enough as you are.
What would happen if you gave up trying to stay attached to your boyfriend and pulled back instead? Waves of loss or abandonment might flow into your life. Good. Dive in. Beneath the surface is clarity about the amazing person you are. Every relationship is an invitation into spiritual evolution. Let yourself ride the communication disconnect and practice deeper self-love and compassion. Loving yourself right now means that you accept your boyfriend’s limitations (one-word responses) and make a mature decision about whether it works for you or not. Yes, that means you have a conversation about his communication style—and yours. If you can’t or don’t want to, please end the relationship. Long-distance dating is difficult enough without the burden of poor communication. Find a guy who is happy to write his way into your heart. After all, isn’t that what you deserve? (The correct answer is yes!)
What do you think of a friend who never calls unless he wants something? One of my former co-workers, who I joined sometimes for happy hour, always asks me for free legal advice or hits me up to donate to fundraisers he is involved in. I am annoyed that he thinks our brief past connection is enough to sustain his tendency to take advantage of me. Am I off base here?
Darling, you take advantage of him taking advantage of you. It allows you to be irritated and indignant. When you drop into those feelings, what behavior do you slip into? For example, some people search for any reason to feel angry. What some of those people really desire is solitude. Fuming about inconsiderate, so-called friends justifies shutting out the world. Rather than traveling through drama to get what you want, just choose to spend more time alone. And, the next time your friend asks for a favor, listen. Then, say, “No.” Use his requests to practice drawing a boundary. When you do, you will discover what a gift he is in your life.