I never thought I was high maintenance. Seriously, in high school and college friends would laugh about girls who were high maintenance and then say, "I'm glad Kat's not like that." My husband has bragged for years about how low maintenance I am, how I never complain, how it doesn't take much or cost an arm and a leg to keep me happy. It's true. All it really takes to keep me happy is to love me, tell me often, and at least pretend to be interested in my life. I used to say that real interest was required, but I've grown old enough to know that having the courtesy to at least pretend you care is often good enough.
See? I said I was low maintenance.
But something has happened recently that is making me take notice.
I've mentioned the pattern before. When you first meet someone online, there's a flurry of email. There are chat conversations and phone calls and texts, and it's all so exciting and new. Then, as you get to know each other, things calm down a bit, as they should. You settle into a comfortable rhythm of communication and make exceptions for the times when one or both of you gets really busy or things at home get crazy.
But for me there seems to be another stage when communication slows way down. An email every day becomes one a week - maybe. Quick text exchanges just to check in and say something nice slow down, too, from once a day to every 2-5 days - maybe. Phone calls? From once a week to once every two or three weeks, if that. Phone sex? That's gone completely.
When I bring it up, I'm told everything's fine. He's just been busy. Don't worry.
Then nothing. For days.
Seriously, how hard is it to text a quick, "Crazy day but I'm thinking about you" or something like that?
It's one thing to be lousy communicator when you are having an in-person affair, but when you have a long distance relationship, all you have is the virtual communication. If you go silent for days, there's a vacuum of communication. If it happens a few times, I can live with that. Life happens. But when it becomes the normal state of affairs I start to wonder. I start to ask myself questions:
Does he really care about me or has he moved on and he's afraid to tell me?
Has he mistaken low maintenance for no maintenance?
Or is something wrong with ME? Am I expecting too much? Is this normal?
It's interesting to be told that "everything's fine" because clearly it's not. I'm feeling devalued and unimportant so everything is not fine for me. But when that text or email shows up after almost a week, I'll act like everything is fine. Apparently I want to live with the delusion that he'll change.
The part of me that loves him says, "Shut up. Everything will be fine. I'm sure he had a good reason...again." I wonder if he's ok. Maybe he's been hurt? Because I can't let myself believe that everything is fine in his world and he is just choosing not to communicate with me."
But the part of me that has a sliver of self-respect remaining says, "I'm worth more than that. I don't need to beg someone to talk to me." But I'm still very sad. I still miss him.
Here's what a wise woman told me several years ago:
If he's not talking to you, it's because he doesn't want to. Walk away.