My boyfriend goes on a mini-trip for two days, and I don’t hear from him unless I reach out. Meanwhile, he’s posting pictures of his grand old times on social media. I don’t expect long conversations, but a brief, “Hey, you’re alive! Me too!” doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it? Or is it customary for communication to be at a bare minimum when your partner travels? —Anonymous
Forgive me, but I don’t understand the issue. Your boyfriend went on a two-day trip and you spoke to him while he was gone. What exactly is the problem?
You called, he answered. You talked. Is it that you’re mad he didn’t call you? If that’s the case, I wonder, did you give him a chance to? Because if you’re calling him and the two of you talked to each other, I’m unclear about why it matters if he’s the one who calls.
I’m also unclear how many times you needed to talk to him on a two-day trip. I mean, he’s away, on vacation. It’s not really a vacation if you’re spending the entire time on the phone with your girlfriend back home. And why are you blowing up his phone and stalking his social media while he’s gone? You can actually just post pictures, tweet or do status updates on your own. You don’t have girlfriends to hang out with? Shopping or sleep to catch up on? A book to read?
At different points in my life, I’ve traveled what some might call a lot. There have been consecutive months where I’ve never spent a full week in the city where I live. Whether I’m in Washington, D.C., visiting my parents or roaming around Morocco with my girls, I aim for a once-a-day check-in where Wi-Fi and/or phone service exists. When I was growing up, my father traveled for work, and that was the rule he kept with me and my mother.
When a call isn’t possible, I write long, detailed emails to send whenever I get to another place with Internet access, and then I call on Tango to catch up on whatever happened since I wrote the letter. I also try to stay in contact, sending pics via What’s App—again, when there is Internet access. But what I don’t do is try to keep up the regular all-day text banter I normally do with my husband when we’re both in New York. It’s hard to take it all in or enjoy the people you’re with when your head is buried in a text or a phone is to your ear.
Personally, I think communication should be at a bare minimum when your partner travels. I think it’s a good thing to give people breathing room and let your partner miss you sometimes. My husband and I agree on this.
What matters for you and your guy is that as a couple, you find something that works for the relationship. Clearly, you want more attention when he’s away. I’m not sure if you expressed what your expectations were and he forgot or ignored them, or he just did what he thought was right and that wasn’t what you were looking for.
When he’s back, tell him that you missed him a lot and you were hoping to hear from him a little more while he was away. Be specific about what you expect. Is it two calls and some texts? A call before bed? A “Good morning”? Whatever it is, say it, but leave out the part about him updating Instagram or Twitter and not calling. He’s not obligated to call you every time he posts a pic or tweets, and it is ridiculous to expect him to.
In addition, during this conversation about your need and wants when he travels, expect that he may think you’re asking for way too much. You will likely need to compromise to reach a happy medium where you don’t feel abandoned and he doesn’t think you’re smothering him.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at email@example.com.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “Great 1st Date, but He Might Still Be Stuck on His Ex”