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Slowing The Spread Of Affection The doctor I’m dating routinely multitasks at work, but I find it rude when she does it in our relationship. When we’re on the phone late at night, she’ll be doing three other things simultaneously. When I finally said something, she told me she purposely does this because she's scared of loving somebody too much. This, however, doesn’t stop her from calling to have me tell her how much I love her. But, how can I tell she’s even interested in me when she’s talking to me while e-mailing and watching a documentary? I'm not ready to give up on her, as I believe we could have a loving relationship, but I need some love and attention, too.

--Boyfriend Comes Last

I can just see her at work: Some poor old guy is flatlining, and she's on her cellphone making a hair appointment while crawling around on her hands and knees looking for the back of her earring. "Hang in there, Mr. Jones, I just have to see if the colorist is in on Wednesday."

And there you are, all “emotionally available,” spilling your guts to her over the phone: “I was a loser as a child, and my hamster was my only friend, and then the fat little neighbor girl sat on him.” All you’re looking for is a bit of empathy on the other end of the line -- preferably something a little more heartfelt and personal than “YOU’VE GOT MAIL!”

There was a right time to say, “Hey, why don’t you call me back when you aren’t busy?” and it was the first time you caught her typing, watching seals getting it on, and playing “Greensleeves” on the harp with her toes. But, because you didn’t put your foot down then, and are still only flirting with putting it down now, the power balance in this relationship is probably blown. Your first clue? How freely she tossed off her howler of an excuse that she’s not rude, just “scared of loving somebody too much.” (Where does she get her lines, out of the recycling bin over at the “Guiding Light”?)

What you’re working hard to spin as human frailty is actually a more solid substance -- the kind you get rid of by hiring a bunch of cowhands and passing out shovels. But, but…maybe she’s sincere! Maybe she is -- if her condition also prevents her from joining you at fine restaurants unless she can knit, pay her bills, and invite the busboys to pull up a chair so the conversation won’t get too personal. Funny, though, how she’s never too busy to hear how much you love her. Lemme guess…that’s the one time you have her undivided attention?

Just like good things, bad things also come to those who wait. Go ahead, hang around, if you’re up for more of the same, like all those meaningful little glances over your shoulder at the TV. Yes, you can have a loving relationship -- providing you find a woman who’s actually loving to have it with. Telltale signs you’ve found such a woman include interest in who you are and what you’re doing, and concern for your feelings beyond making excuses in order to keep on hurting them. Maybe you’ll someday find another woman who makes you feel the way this one does. (Ignored, unimportant, uninteresting…used?) If you do, look back on all the fun you had sitting in the waiting room of this current girlfriend’s life. You should find yourself taking a pass on your next opportunity to work your way up a woman’s to-do list -- exciting as it must be to go from fourth place to third when the Ty-D-Bowl commercial comes on.

Posted by aalkon at November 30, 2005 7:08 AM

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Too much. This guy takes the cake. The best thing this guy can do for both of them is dump her. Maybe then she'd realize, if he bothers to spell it out for her, that she should have been a little more considerate, and maybe he'd realize that he needs to be a bit more selective.

Posted by: Patrick at November 30, 2005 10:23 AM

I think you're right on. Multi-tasking during conversation is seriously un-cool. But that doesn't mean that it's not done- just check out all those people hanging onto their nokia, driving in the fast lane.

If it bothers him, so he should make that known and do what you said...But he shouldn't dump her over this small issue without giving her a clear message first. Their relationship deserves a chance & she deserves the opportunity to listen. Or would you advocate dropping every girlfriend caught unloading the dishwasher while murmuring 'uh huh, uh huh'?

Maybe the third time he says "call me back when you're not busy" & she doesn't get it... or after telling her straight-up how rude & disrespectful she's being... THEN let her go. But I don't think it's too late to communicate.

Posted by: Kate at December 2, 2005 12:18 PM

Rumor has it that Paris Hilton's infamous home video shows her deflagranting her delicto to answer her cell-phone. The consensus at work was, "Billionaire heiress or not, if she could even hear it ringing, someone's not doing their job right."

This putz doesn't have her attention because he doesn't have her respect in any way, day or night, that's all - which is what you said.

Posted by: Radwaste at December 2, 2005 9:34 PM

Actually, I was going to use that for the column, but it turns out she didn't answer it; she only crawled over and looked at her caller ID to see who it was.

*Never say I don't do comprehensive research for my column!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 3, 2005 4:20 AM

oh, that made me laugh. i should've checked up on this site earlier. stupid dial-up.

Posted by: g*mart at December 19, 2005 11:05 PM


Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 19, 2005 11:18 PM

If you have meaningful connections in person, but not on the phone, then she just isn’t a phone person. (I'm not.) If you don’t have meaningful connections in person either, then, there’s no meaningful connection between you two and you need to move on and find a meaningful connection with someone. The quality of *phone conversations* should not be the deciding factor.

Very little of the substance of a relationship should be determined by telephone, email, IMs or blogs. Being together in the same room, interacting as humans is what makes a relationship. If you’re trying to get your main connections and meaning from telephone conversations, it isn’t a relationship. Use the phone, et al, for arranging meeting in person. So while she’s got some work to do in not allowing meaningful connections, so do you in expecting meaningful connections over the phone.

Posted by: cosmicmojo at January 5, 2006 9:13 AM

Dear cosmicmojo - Welcome to the Modern World. I know things must seem strange to you. You are from another time, a time when life was simpler, a time of peaceful serenity, a time before......electricity. Oh dear, sit down, I know, the thought upsets you. I know it's strange and scary for you to imagine talking with a close friend through a tiny wire instead of hitching up ole Bessie and taking that dirt path 17 miles through bear infested woods and arriving 3 days later for a visit with Erma down in the hollow. Well, times are different now. People don't accept excuses of not being a "phone person" - they consider that BULLSHIT! Oh yes, dear, women swear now, too! Same goes for other forms of communication. If you are not "good" at it, you are not good at communication, period. There is NOTHING EASIER than email - you can edit, for Chrissake, and take forever to respond with anyone staring at your Howdy Doody undies and ratty, dog-eaten slippers! Many, many people have experienced life-changing, momentous events through electronic communication. You cannot simply disregard it - in 2006, that is. Well, good luck getting that time machine running. Hope you make it back to 1704.

PS I've never seen so many instances of "meaningful connection" in one paragraph!

PPS How did you figure out computers and blogs so quickly? Are you a genius in your time?

Posted by: wicked opinion at March 21, 2006 8:39 PM

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