My mate won't text me during the day, but he texts others, help!

Question:

Hey quick, question. I've been having some communication issues with my mate recently. We're both furs and live in the same city, and we both work web development. We used to be able to talk online here and there and have a decent conversation, but for the last handful of months he hasn't really been talking to me when I message him.

For example, I’ll ask him how his projects are going and I just get "good.” He told me before that sometimes he doesn't have the time to talk at work or doesn't want to talk all the time, which I told him is understandable and that I'd try to message him less at work.

We've talked about it a handful of times since then, since I was having issues with him not really talking to me, yet it's still happening. He admits to being short with me online, but the thing that gets to me is that he'll be short with me (which could be because he's busy), but then I'll see him get in an hour long convo with random people in our local chat?

He seems to think I care about the physical length of the message, but I've tried telling him it's really about the context: if it's a yes/no question how could I expect more than that? And if I'm asking a question, I kinda expect an answer, not to just be blown off.

He also claims that we see each other every day, which is true, but he uses it as an excuse for this issue and I don't really think that's valid, since realistically, I wouldn't want to message him 24/7 in the first place at work, I'm busy too lol… but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a halfway thought out response.

To be perfectly honest I'm not sure if I'm completely in the wrong here, kinda just looking for outside opinions.

Received via Telegram (name withheld)

Answer

Hey there! Thanks much for asking this question. It’s one I can personally relate to, from both sides of the issue. At the end of the day, you absolutely are not in the wrong for wanting more communication from your mate, and I think it is awesome that you have directly communicated that desire to your partner. However, it is clear that your boyfriend is not very interested in indulging that desire in the way you see fit, and that is currently an obvious sore point in your relationship. 

Unfortunately, it isn’t really possible to force someone to want to talk to you, no matter how that person feels about you. It sounds to me like your mate isn’t very interested in chatting with you casually during the day because he sees that time away from you as time to indulge in new relationship energy (NRE) with new friends. It isn’t that your mate values strangers more highly than you, it’s just that your mate has a need for meeting new people that he expresses by chatting with other people while he is at work.

What you are ultimately experiencing is something that is quite common —essentially inevitable — in newly long-term relationships, which is that the novelty of your personality is wearing off for your mate, and so he is satisfying a craving for novelty by seeking out conversation with people he doesn’t know so well. Subconsciously, he probably views his working hours as an “escape” from you, even though he might feel too guilty about this to admit it directly. If I am right about my hunch here, that means your partner is likely to view your request for more communication as unreasonable, because ultimately he sees your request as impinging upon his alone / free / NRE-pursuit time, and he feels a need to protect that time on a pretty instinctual level.

If you want your mate to empathize with you a little better, I’d recommend first expressing a bit of empathy for his possible needs and desires, using my hunch that I just mentioned as a starting off point.

If you want your mate to empathize with you a little better, I’d recommend first expressing a bit of empathy for his possible needs and desires, even if contrary to yours

You might say something like, “I know I’ve told you I’d like you to talk to me more when you are at work, but I haven’t done a very good job of asking you why it is that you don’t want to talk to me when you’re working. I wonder if it is because you actually enjoy having some time away from me, when you get to be on your own, and make impressions on new people without me next to you all the time. If that’s the case, I totally understand, and that is a valid thing to want. I just would like you to understand that your needs and wants are important to me, and I don’t think my needs and wants should always come before yours. What I would like is for us to talk about how we might both be able to happily get our needs and wants met in this situation. I don’t want to feel taken for granted, and you probably don’t want to feel like you can’t have time to yourself to socialize with new people. How do you think we could both better meet our needs in this situation?”

Paradoxically, your mate is more likely to empathize with your needs and wants when you first take the time to empathize and demonstrate a desire to understand what might be important to him in a situation, and to tell him it is okay to have needs and desires that might run contrary to yours. With any luck, this will relieve a lot of your mate’s anxiety and guilt and your mate will open up to you, and you both will be able to have a much more honest and constructive conversation about how to meet each other’s needs.

For what it is worth, remember that you don't actually lose anything when your mate talks to someone else, unless you find out your mate is disclosing things to someone else that you aren't eventually hearing about, within a reasonable timeframe (such as that night). If you suspect that you are losing emotional intimacy with your mate in favor of another person in a way that goes beyond what your relationship terms say is okay, that then becomes an emotional intimacy and primacy issue, and you should raise those specific issues with your mate. I would strongly encourage you not to make these an issue unless there actually is an issue, though — accusations like these are rarely taken well.

If your mate refuses to budge on this issue even after you talk to him, perhaps there is another way he could meet your needs. Ultimately, you just want to feel valued and prioritized by your mate, so perhaps he could provide that feeling in a way that doesn’t feel as forced to him.

For one example, maybe he takes a few minutes before bed to tell you the three things he appreciated most about you that day. By doing so, he will make you feel valued, and he will prove to you that he is paying attention to you and noticing the things you do to make him happy throughout the day.

For another example, maybe he takes you on a romantic date during which your phones are put away. Try to be creative with your date locations too, so that they inject a bit of an exotic spark into the conversations you might have while you are out. Maybe try to travel together, or visit a museum, or even just sit down to browse Fur Affinity or So Furry together. You might see your partner in a whole new light while taking in a new experience together, and hopefully your partner will do the same with you and you will see that your partner is still eager to share with you in that way. Sometimes, the thing that is missing is a new experience to talk about, and having more new experiences with your partner is something concrete that you can definitely work on. Try to be creative and give your mate ways to express his love and appreciation for you that don’t feel forced on his end!

Hope that helps! If you have any further questions or feedback, feel free to comment below or to use any of the contact methods available via our contact page.

Viro the Science Collie

Viro Science Collie is a PhD virologist and medical writer, experienced in teaching, technical communication, and writing for the public. He has been active in the furry community since 2012 and has been happily and ethically non-monogamous for much of that time. His interests include non-traditional relationship structures, technology, biological science, and tennis.