I have a good relationship with my boyfriend of a year except for how he ignores me when he’s stressed. The first time this happened, he disappeared for a week and didn’t respond to texts or voice mails. He later explained he’d been swamped with work and apologized repeatedly. Last weekend, he again disappeared for a week. After I texted and left voice mails, he finally texted, “Work is big right now.” He has told me he likes me because I don’t complain or try to get his attention when he’s busy. Actually, I’m a wreck when he disappears. My ex would also ignore me for weeks and then text like nothing had happened. Stupid me for staying around for two years, as it ultimately ended when he texted me that he couldn’t talk to me anymore because he’d gotten married. -Scared Of History Repeating Itself
When a guy you’re dating ignores your texts and voice mails for weeks, you don’t call him your boyfriend; you block his number so he can never call you again – and long before his excuses go from “I got a little busy” to “I got a little married.”
Men do seem to have more of a “fight-or-flight” response to stress, but the impulse to drop out is just a tendency, not a biological mandate. If a man cares about you, he will somehow manage to overcome his teensy-weensy feelings of discomfort to stay in touch with you, even through tough times in his life. Sure, now that messages are no longer delivered by the Pony Express, letting you know that he still cares can sometimes take some effort - perhaps even tapping his finger eight times on a tiny wireless gadget and hitting “send.” And yes, I did see your boyfriend’s excuse above: “Work is big right now.” Right. Besides being your “boyfriend,” is he also known as “Barack Obama” and “The Leader of the Free World?”
History is repeating itself because you’re repeating yourself. Like one of those robot things in The Terminator, no matter what indignity a guy blasts you with, you drag what’s left of you upright and go back for more: “Hey, just call me when you have some free time - maybe between marriages.” You probably even take it as a compliment when your boyfriend admires how you’re all “I am victim, hear me roll over” when he ignores you. Beverly Engel, in her terrific book The Nice Girl Syndrome, cautions that the motive for being “nice” in the face of cruel treatment is often guilt, shame, fear of confrontation, fear of rejection, and an intense fear of being alone.
Being so compliant is pretty counterproductive because men are into the thrill of the chase, not the thrill of a woman who’s on them like a tick on a dog no matter what they do. To be treated with respect, you need to be the disappearing one; disappear from the dating scene until you develop the self-respect to express your needs like you have a right to have them. You’ll be ready to date when you require only one person in your life to feel whole - and it isn’t some guy who does with your dignity what other people do with Quilted Northern.
It’s Advice Goddess Radio! Nationally syndicated advice columnist Amy Alkon takes your questions and advice requests and bats around issues on love, dating, sex, relationships, and manners.
Amy Alkon’s live weekly call-in advice radio show airs over the Internet every Sunday night, 7-8 p.m. Pacific Time, 10-11 p.m. Eastern Time, and is available in podcast afterward at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon.
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