You Get What You Allow – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 76)

deleteAs a dating coach, I hear complaints like this from my clients and my friends (mostly the female ones) all the time:

– “He won’t pick up the phone to call me.  I am so sick of texting!”
– “Ugh – he only contacts me once a week.  What’s up with that?”
– “Why can’t he ask me before Friday if I’m free this weekend??  My schedule fills up by mid-week.”

All of these are, of course, are valid concerns.  But what’s not valid is not saying anything about them to the person you’re dating.  As much as we want them to be, people are not mind readers.  Even if we think we’re being as clear as a freshly washed glass door (I use this as an example because I walked into one last week – oops), we often dance around things that bother us until the other person figures it out… and they usually don’t.  This leads to the demise of many a relationship when often simply talking it through would resolve the problem.

Let’s take the first example: texting.  In our generation, the default is to text.  Running late?  Send a text.  Curious to know what someone’s up to later?  Send a text.  Ask someone out on a second date?  You guessed it.  Most people will send a text.  Now, I pose this question: If this overuse of texting bothers you, what do you do about it?  Too often, the answer is nothing.  If you allow the texting to go on by answering all the time and not mentioning that you would prefer a phone call, your date/partner assumes that it’s ok.  Remember, no one reads minds.  Even today, a 54-year-old female client called me to ask what to do about a guy from Match.com who has been texting her since asking for her phone number.  She said, “Ugh – he must be lazy!  Should I just ignore him?”  My response was, “Write him back saying, ‘Why don’t you give me a ring, and we’ll schedule a time to meet?’”

For the next example, someone only contacting you once a week, again, it’s ok to say something like, “I think it would be fun to talk a couple of times a week.”  You can even throw a joke in there with something like, “I think it would be fun to talk (and maybe even see each other) a couple of times a week, you know, so I don’t forget what you look like. ;)”  And for the issue about last-minute planning, it’s more than ok to say to someone that you tend to plan ahead.

In life, many people end up being passive-aggressive or unclear when trying to get a message across.  The act of having a real, honest conversation about something that’s bothering you is a lost art, but it’s the foundation of a good relationship.  Rather than having little things, like the frustration with texting, add up until you can’t take it anymore, instead, you can ask yourself, “Have I mentioned that I would prefer a call sometimes?  Do I answer every text as if it’s no problem?”  If the answers are no and yes, respectively, then before you break up (likely via text, given the circumstances), have a conversation about your different communication styles, and try to find a middle ground.  Remember that you get what you allow, so by allowing the “problem” to go on, you’re sending the message that it’s not a problem at all.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.