We have a communication break-down

-- Question for John --

I am writing you once again to ask for some love advice. I previously wrote you about a relationship that seemed to be moving everywhere but up. In fact it was crashing in flames. I accepted the decision that the love of my life no longer wanted to be with me. So I cut off all the communicating that I was doing. No more phone calls, letters, postcards, …nothing.

I was doing pretty good, I met some new people and everything. Well it had been about a month since the last time I tried to contact my boyfriend. During the time span he had not tried to contact me either. Then one day out of the blue, he called me at my job and asked me how I was doing. He proceeded to ask me if I was seeing anyone as well. I asked him what the point of his phone call was, and he told me that it was because he missed me.

I told him I was fine, and I left at that. Then the phone calls kept coming, almost everyday now. He was apologizing in every other sentence, and he was repeatedly telling me that he didn’t know what to do. He said that he couldn’t accept the fact that he was so far from me. I told him that he can’t keep putting me on hold until he decides that he wants to talk to me. I told him that I may not always be here for him. He promised that he would do a better job communicating with me. He also wanted me to promise him not to engage in any sexual relations with anyone until he returned. I have no trouble waiting for him, because I love him. Out of all the people I have been with, he is the only one who I could see myself with in the future. But if I feel that he can’t even do the simple things like pick up a phone and call me to see how I’m doing, then I’m leaving.

Since he called everything has been OK as far as the communication thing goes. because when you’re apart, those raggedy ass phone calls and letters are all you really have. But, sad to say he is starting to do the same thing he has been doing. I haven’t heard from him or received any letters or anything. I call and his brother tells me he still at the barber shop cutting hair. And that’s fine, but when I ask that my phone call be related, he still never calls back. I don’t know what to do. Like always, we have a communication break-down. Sometimes I wish that he would have never called me. I feel like a fool all over again. What should I do?

-- Answer from John --

The non-communication pattern seems to be repeating? Is this like being on a merry-go-round? Around and around… You’ve gone full circle again. I’m sorry to hear that. You even explained to him not to put you on hold until he decides he wants to talk to you. And now it’s happening again? UGH!

At this point, IF YOU EVER TALK AGAIN, you need to make an agreement with him, and ask him to agree to set up specific times you can count on talking together. Figure out how many times a week would work for you. Within reason, of course. Set up a schedule. Every Thursday night at 9pm and every Sunday afternoon at 2pm. Whatever works for you. Make a verbal agreement about doing this. Make a contract to stick to the schedule. Be specific. Tell him that he’s losing your trust. Tell him that he needs to stick to the agreement if he wants to regain your trust. Then see if he does.

If he does, fine. Maybe you can trust him after all. But if he doesn’t, then you have your answer right there. How many times do you need to get the answer?

I don’t know, perhaps you have already been that clear about what you need and asked for it that specifically. And told him how important it was, and that if he wanted to be able to trust you for loyalty, you need to trust him for communicating, and that means talking at least twice a week, or whatever. Then if that’s the case, maybe you already have the answer…

Or maybe he has just made a genuine mistake. It’s hard to know when you are in the dark. I hope you do talk to him again soon, and spell out your needs to him in an unmistakable way, by requesting him to agree to an absolute schedule of talking every other day, or whatever you want to propose…

If you clearly spell out your needs, that’s your part of the communication process. It is the only real thing you can do. Make a clear and honest request. Ask for specific things. “I need to talk with you twice a week. Can we agree to talk each Tuesday and Friday night at 7pm?” Don’t leave it vague. Say who will call who each time. Maybe he calls on Tuesdays and you call on Fridays. If he makes such an agreement but then slacks off again and it all falls apart again, then you have to decide if you really want to go around on the merry-go-round one more time with this guy.

It does hurt more each time around. I’d recommend three times around maximum. Then get off the merry-go-round.