40

Me and my girl, Alice, have been in a LDR (Long Distance Relationship) for a while now. So we mostly communicate via text or an occasional video or voice call.

Recently I have been getting more and more busy with work, getting a new apartment and some personal things. As such, I sometimes don't even remember to check my phone or am just too in the zone to read messages. Sometimes even when I do reply I send a short message which does not seem to cultivate the conversation.

Alice is still in school and she is having her holidays at the moment. She found a part-time job for some extra cash but mostly she's pretty free so she texts me often. However, recently--for about two whole days--she hardly sent any texts and after some prodding she told me that she isn't texting me as often since she feels she is disturbing me and distracting me from my work. I have tried telling her otherwise but she still believes that I'm just saying she isn't to be nice.

Side-note: She is from the West and I'm from the East (of the world)

Question:

How can I convince her that she isn't detrimental to my work or busy schedule and in fact helps me get through the day.

  • 17
    "However, recently--for about two whole days--she hardly sent any texts and after some prodding she told me that she isn't texting me as often since she feels she is disturbing me and distracting me from my work." Was she failing to respond to your texts? Maybe she's just keeping her texting balanced with yours, so that if you increase your frequency she will keep up with you. – littleO Jul 3 '18 at 6:34
  • 2
    Is ending the long term relationship by either one of you relocating or breaking up an option? – iyrin Jul 3 '18 at 12:41
  • Ending it is not really an option, considering i will be going to her country to study later this year. – SomeoneElse Jul 5 '18 at 3:43
  • 1
    You could try scheduling time each day or most days to talk on the phone or voice chat with her, if you can afford it, and text less often. The sound of each other's voice, the flow of conversation and the sustained attention you would be paying each other would provide much more feelings of companionship than any amount of texting can. – Andy Jul 5 '18 at 4:34
  • @SomeoneElse: I'm confused. Why does relocating to her country mean you can't end the relationship? People break up every day, who already live in the same country, or city, or even street! – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 5 '18 at 10:05
89

I just finally converted a long distance relationship back into a short range relationship1, but during the long distance times I had this same exact issue. Only, my SO handled it completely differently.

Since we're very open, they told me they felt like I wasn't giving the relationship enough of my time and that they were putting in far more effort than me only to get rebuffed. In not so many words, they told me to either be a part of the relationship or to end it. They were exactly right in all of their points.

If you want to be in this relationship, you need to work for it, even if it's tough. This is your girl's way of telling you that she's not comfortable with the way things are going. She wants to be able to message you and get responses or be able to talk to you, but she doesn't feel like she can.

Maybe you can fix this by explaining to her that you enjoy her messages and want her to keep them up, but is it fair to ask for one sided love when you're not able to put in the effort to reciprocate?

In my situation, this was resolved with scheduled phone calls and a dedicated response once a night. Once I did it for a few weeks, it became a habit. Get back from work, go to the gym, make dinner, spend an hour doing whatever, shower, reply to the SO and crash. It became part of my schedule. And honestly, I didn't even notice that my SO had been falling out of my life until I forcefully put them back into my schedule.

It may be tough, but if you want this relationship to last, you need to be willing to give some of your dedicated time.

TL;DR/Conclusion: This may be a cry for help and more attention in the relationship. Regardless though, the best way to tell her she "isn't detrimental" is to show her by giving her the love and attention she's looking for. From personal experience, I'd suggest adding a time in your schedule to dedicate to your SO.


1. That's what they're called, right?

  • 9
    Your phone, that you can't remember to check because it's not that important compared to what else you're doing? That phone is where your girlfriend is. If she is important to you, then is hearing from her important to you? As this answer says, put the time in to have the relationship. – Kate Gregory Jul 3 '18 at 23:39
  • 3
    The nightly phone call was absolutely critical for my now-wife and I during college on opposite coasts of the US. – KRyan Jul 5 '18 at 13:31
14

Actions speak louder than words ever will.

Stop doing this immediately:

As such, I sometimes don't even remember to check my phone or am just too in the zone to read messages. Sometimes even when I do reply I send a short message which does not seem to cultivate the conversation.

because it validates her notion of:

she told me that she isn't texting me as often since she feels she is disturbing me and distracting me from my work

Make an earnest effort to engage in conversation even if it is not convenient for you.

Is she the one always initiating communication? Why don't you text her out of the blue and ask how things are going.

7

Honey, I know it seems like I'm unavailable because I'm working, and sometimes my responses aren't as comprehensive or as quick as they should be, but the reality is that being reminded of you throughout the day helps me get through my day.

If it's hard for you that I don't always reply, and at times don't reply with enough input, I'm sorry for that, but I don't want you to stop trying to contact me because I really do value it and it makes a difference for me.

Honest and clarity makes things simple, as is represented through the general sentiment in these answers :)

As long as you are being genuine, and aren't at all bothered by it. I know my partner can sense quite quickly when I'm not being fully available for any reason other than just being busy.

In all of my relationships, my inability to share clearly what is going on for me and when has been the cause of the most significant issues long-term. It's like the planting of a seed, which quickly grows to create space and dissonance which is NOT what you want with your significant other.

In my previous experience, my inability to respond to my SO's messages in a spontaneous, jovial manner has indicated that there is a discrepancy in the way I am feeling towards her, so in situations like these it is best to take some time to also look into yourself and what you are really feeling in the moment. Maybe a part of you is mildly bothered by the interruptions? When I have been honest with myself in the past, that has sometimes been the case. Other times it has simply been that I haven't communicated with her about things going on for me (example: when we're together she behaves in a certain way which bothers me slightly, but I don't acknowledge or deal with it in the moment), these things all build up to create something more significant.

4

As I understand it, the problem is that you have not been responding promptly and at length to her texts, so she now believes that you don't want them. However, you've been using her texts to maintain closeness when you do pick up your phone and check. Essentially her texts work for you, as you get what you need from her. She is telling you that she is not getting what she needs from your texting relationship.

Literal answer

To answer your literal question, when you go to check texts and don't find any, text her with something like (but in your words not mine):

Hey, I just finished [whatever you were doing].

Try to share at least one detail about what you were doing. It doesn't have to be deep and meaningful. You are signalling that you want her to be included in your life.

I went to check texts because I miss you, but nothing :(

Text me when you get a chance, because reading your texts is part of what gets me through the day.

This communicates that you are thinking about her. It takes the effort of sharing something about you. It indicates that you were busy. It expresses that you like getting texts from her and it makes you sad when you don't.

It shares how you feel. In absence of such communication she has been making her own guesses. Don't leave her guessing. Tell her.

Addressing the underlying problem

Also, at least once a day, text her

Just saw [...] and it reminded me of you.

Obviously replace [...] with something that actually did remind you of her. This can also be a good use of the phone camera. Try to keep things upbeat rather than critical. Something that might be funny if discussed in person can come off as harsh over text. And she has already started expressing insecurity, so things that can be taken two ways will probably be taken the negative way.

There are some sociologists who believe that men and women use conversation differently. Men think of it as a way to communicate things. So men who don't have anything to communicate don't text. Women use conversation to maintain connection. From that perspective, she seems to be indicating that she is not feeling a connection from you.

If she is texting a lot and you are texting a little, take time to send more texts. Perhaps you don't have time to reply during the day. If so, set up a time when you do have time to reply and reread her texts. Reply then, preferably in kind. For example, if she's sharing details of her day, share details of yours. If she's talking about her family, talk about yours. She is telling you the kind of things she finds interesting. Keep her interested by talking about those kinds of things. Also respond to what she's saying. Commiserate when she's complaining; cheer when she's happy. Show that you're paying attention.

If the purpose is connection, your texts do not have to communicate deep and meaningful things. Say you missed your bus and have to wait for twenty minutes for the next one. That's a great time to text and share some details of your life. Had any good meals lately? Remember that shared meal with ...? Were you woken up by some odd sound? Why'd you miss the bus? You said "miss" does that make you think about missing her?

Look for things that you'd like to share with her if she was there. It could be a place to eat breakfast, a music store, a park, or whatever. Take a picture and send it with a note. If you don't have time to write the note, take the picture and save it for later.

Tell her about times when you wish she was there. Tell her why you wished she was there. Did you want to hold her hand? Share sarcastic observations about other people there? What did you enjoy doing with her when you were physically together? Talk about those things. You may want to keep it PG in texts in case someone else might read her phone. But other than that, things are wide open.

2

Simple solution - Text her first.

If she's not having long periods of time where you don't respond, this becomes a non-issue. Time zones could be a problem - I had a LDR between UK and Australia for five years. In that case, maybe set up some times when she can expect your texts and calls. If these "dates" are often enough then you'll get through this. Also if you really need to work because of deadlines, share your calendar with her and tell her when you're going to be back.

2

I live with a friend who has very much the opposite problem. His (very jewish and more than a little neurotic) mother calls at least once every evening just to hear his voice, and his girlfriend calls too.

Every conversation and activity we try and do gets interrupted by his phone ringing. Every day without fail.

He's increasingly getting frustrated by it and sometimes resorting to just leaving his phone in his room and ignoring it if he hears it, Not a healthy solution long-term.

The solution we've been discussing I think will work in your case too.


Set a particular time for a proper conversation instead of being interrupted constantly.


You're working, even if it's not really intruding you should really be focused on your work rather than texting, save it for the evening or on your lunch-break.

Commit to doing it and make sure they know.

The extra bonus is that because you're calling and not the other way around, they don't feel like they're intruding and even feel more special for being called.

2

You want to give her the message that she isn't disturbing you with her texts because they are not important enough for you to even be reading them.

For whose sake do you think she is writing them? She is not looking for an acknowledgment but reciprocation. You are fading from relevance to her and her attempts to keep your relation going are met with indifference. So since your message is that she has become unimportant to you, what sense is there in running after you? It isn't working.

A long distance relationship is not a placeholder, something that you can use for saying "sorry I am taken" when it is convenient, like a conspicuous ring. How do you keep present in her mind? How should the thought of you fill her with joy? What do you do to not make her feel alone? "You can text me anytime you want because I am not looking at my phone anyway" just doesn't work for that.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.