Radio silence

When The Pedant is over, I feel absolutely secure in my relationship with him.  The way he touches me, the way he treats me – I’m really pretty sure he loves me back, even though he hasn’t said the words.

But when he’s not here, I start to get paranoid.  As I’ve mentioned, he doesn’t really initiate much contact between visits, unless it’s to email me about a practical matter (“did I leave my hairbrush there?” or “are you free next Tuesday?” or that sort of thing).  So first off, his silence makes me wonder if he ever thinks about me when I’m gone, or what (I damn sure think about him.  Obviously).  Second, the silence gives my anxious thoughts all kinds of room to take root and spread out tendrils.

I was hanging out with Kaija today and she pointed out that some people can care about a person deeply but just not need a lot of check-ins and contact with them.  She says perhaps The Pedant is one of those people.  She’s probably right.  I do know that people like that exist, and there’s no reason why The Pedant wouldn’t be one of them.

But I have to say, I don’t understand that mindset.  It makes no sense to me.  I have feelings for The Pedant: loving, crushy, sexy feelings.  This means that interacting with him makes me happy. And I like being happy, so when he’s not here I want to interact with him through text and email so I can keep on getting little sips of happiness even when he’s not able to actually visit.

Just to be absolutely clear, I’m not saying I want a three-hour phone conversation every night in which the last hour is just us giggling and going “No, you hang up.”  “No, you hang up.”  I’d just like it if he texted me every few days to tell me how his day is going or even just let me know he’s thinking of me.  Not unlike the other day, when I missed him and craved him but had nothing in particular to tell him so I just texted “*licks*”.  (He responded “Oh hi there. :)” which is actually exactly what he does when I surprise him with a lick or a kiss in person.  GAH SO ADORABLE…!)

Hmmm.  It occurs to me that I don’t need that much contact from everyone who’s important to me.  I have people in my life whom I totally love (platonically) but only talk to every few weeks or even months and it’s fine.  So apparently I’m more clingy when romance is involved.  I’m sure this is partly some unhealthy thing where I (still) rely too much on romantic and sexual attention from boys for validation, but it’s definitely also that the societal default for friendships is that everyone has at least a few – if a person makes a new friend, it’s assumed that the new person isn’t replacing a pre-existing friend. 

The societal default for relationships is that everyone gets just one – if a guy I’m seeing meets someone who interests him more than I do, he’s generally going to go off and be with her instead.  The Pedant is non-monogamous, but even so, if he is silent between visits because he just doesn’t think about me much, and he meets someone he can’t get out of his mind, I’m likely gonna be shunted aside.  Maybe not dropped entirely, I mean, but not seeing him nearly as often.  So I worry.

Does anyone in our studio audience communicate like The Pedant?  Can you explain how it’s possible to love someone and yet go incommunicado for like a week at a time?  I need insights.



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18 responses to “Radio silence

  1. phoenixasubbie

    Glad to be a fly on this wall. Looking forward to the answers myself…

  2. Juuuuuuulia

    Sometimes, I want to talk to someone specific about something, but I feel uncomfortable initiating conversation when I have nothing in particular to say! That might be part of what’s going on? He might think about you but think you don’t want to hear about his boring day, or something like that? One way to test might be to text questions that require specific answers! “How was your day?” isn’t clear if it’s just politeness or the person wants to know, so it’s easily answered with “fine”. Meanwhile, “What did you do today?” may actually lead to real answer?

    • He might think about you but think you don’t want to hear about his boring day, or something like that?

      Mmmmaybe. For whatever it’s worth, I’ve sent him random texts about my day tons of times, so in theory he should be aware that I’d be good with that concept. I’m pretty sure that when he’s not certain how to act with someone, social cues-wise, he mirrors back their own behaviour to them. But he’s not doing that here. Which means either he’s more clueless than I thought, or he’s just not much of a talker.

      Oh, and in person he’ll totally make small talk about the most random, inconsequential things. He’ll be like “So my friend Paula broke up with her boyfriend…” and I’ve never even met Paula before.

      Good point about asking him stuff that’ll actually get him talking a bit. That’ll be useful in helping me drag a bit more contact out of him. 😛

  3. I communicate like that. I can try to explain how it works for me, though of course I can’t know if it’s the same for the Pedant.

    (Note that only part of it for me is emotional. Part of it is that I’m socially anxious and my brain tends to be convinced that people don’t want me bothering them, so I almost never initiate social interaction).

    On the emotional side, basically the thing for me is that my brain is very good at ‘smoothing over’ emotions so to speak. So, I can have intense emotions (for instance, from spending time with my significant others), but the rest of the time, not only am I not having them, I can’t really recapture them. Like, I remember them as facts, but not as feelings.

    So, to extent your ‘sips of happiness’ metaphor, it’s like you emotionally remember that time with the Pedant is ‘delicious’, so you have very active desire for it. For me, it’s like my brain, on an emotional level, forgets that deliciousness, so it doesn’t do that in the same way. (Incidentally, I tend to feel kind of insecure/guilty about this, because I worry people will feel that I don’t love them and be sad. When really I do love them very much, my brain is just weird with feelings like this).

    Also, I’m pretty much incapable of picking up on the fact that someone wants to interact more with me unless they explicitly tell me this. I’m usually very up for and glad for spending time with people, virtually or otherwise, if they tell me they want to (and I enjoy it and get feelings from it). But, otherwise, because it’s not activating my reward center in the same way, so to speak, and because my anxiousness tells me that I’d impose on people if I interacted with them, I’ll usually leave things alone, even if I would actually be happier to interact with people more.

    • So, I can have intense emotions (for instance, from spending time with my significant others), but the rest of the time, not only am I not having them, I can’t really recapture them. Like, I remember them as facts, but not as feelings.

      Thanks for the insight! I could see The Pedant maybe being like this (but who knows, really). I’ve decided I’ll probably talk to him about this sometime soon. I never said anything before because I couldn’t figure out any way to approach it except “Waaaah wah wah I wish you’d text me more often because I’m a needy jerk waaah.” It occurs to me now that I can just be like “So it seems like our communication styles are different. Here’s how my brain works in this regard. What about you?”

      So ummm…what keeps you coming back to people if you don’t actively have feelings for them in their absence? 😛

      • (! That’s a really good way to phrase that kind of question! *Should try to remember*.)

        And, well to me, there’s a difference between I guess I could say fact-feelings and intense-feelings. So, I have feelings for people in their absence in the sense that I love them and I know I like spending time with them and such. It’s the intensity of desire that my brain tends to smooth over.

        To draw a hopefully-OK analogy – I like brownies. This is something I know. If I go to a party and there’s brownies, that’s nice. If someone offers me brownies I can be like ‘brownies, yay!’. Etc.

        However, that’s different from intensely craving brownies in the moment. If I was intensely craving brownies at some moment, that’s what would make me decide I should totally go to the store and get brownies, or bake some, or something. Liking brownies in general doesn’t produce that kind of ‘let’s do things right now’ motivation. But, I still do like them, and enjoy them and find them delicious, I’m just being more passive about it, so to speak.

        • I like the brownie analogy. Although I personally start intensely craving brownies any time someone even mentions them.

          Gummi Bears are a thing I’ve probably never actually bought, but will eat and enjoy if they’re around. But I don’t like Gummi Bears nearly as much as I like brownies (or anything chocolate). Otherwise I’d crave them when they weren’t around.

          So I suppose the analogy shouldn’t be all that reassuring to me!

  4. trillian

    What I would do is… you mentioned that once upon a time there was a woman he did want to pursue. And that she was not available for him for whatever reason. As he likes to talk about other women I would probably have him tell the entire story, and at the right point, try to ask if he felt anything that he would consider “in love”, and was that any way typically “constantly thinking about the other person” etcetera. I think if done in the right moment, this could be a pretty interesting and revealing conversation. I’d be absolutely curious what he says about this woman and how he says it.
    Just my 2 cents. 🙂

    • He definitely was in love with that one woman. Those are the words he used. They were dating and then she broke up with him and he tried for a while to get back in there but it didn’t work.

      And he certainly thought about her a lot, as evidenced by how often he talked about her to me. Although whether this translated into a lot of emails and text messages to her while they were dating, I don’t know.

      I wonder if he talks about me to other people as much as he rambles about other women to me? I think that’s partly what’s bugging me. I have a hard time picturing him going on about me the way he will about, say, Pixie. Who he’s not even dating. Bleh.

  5. Well… Actually Wonderboy was kind of like this when we started dating. Even though he writes stuff, like creative writing sometimes, he’s really slow at texting and chatting with him was a total nightmare. He would leave texts unanswered (and he still doesn’t answer to almost any emails) or answer with “hope I can make it” or “pretty tired now > sleep” or something.

    I realize now that it takes him a lot more time to craft a body of text. He loves me, so that makes it all the more difficult. What should he answer? I’ve seen him write an SMS to a friend and it took him literally 10 minutes to get right. He kept editing it to be perfect. I’ve also seen him do the same on Facebook – edit a big chunk of text into a sentence.

    And we all know he loves me to death.

    So, I wouldn’t really worry. It might not be that he doesn’t think about you, it might just be that he doesn’t know how to communicate with you on paper. Yet. Wonderboy is much more likely to text me now, when he knows “Hope you have a nice day. Kisses” is enough to let me know he’s there. It just took a few years. 😀

    And as always: if you are really unhappy with the situation, you could bring it up with him in a straightforward way: “I’d like to hear from you more, if that’s okay with you.” I bet he wouldn’t be offended. 🙂

    • I take forever to compose texts and emails (and blog comments), too. Like really ridiculously long. It’s because of my social anxiety and OCD (and the fact that I’m just an aficionado of writing, and want to be concise and clear).

      The Pedant doesn’t appear to have social anxiety (odd, considering he has a lot to be anxious about!) but he does have a good dose of Aspie anal-retentiveness and he’s an aspiring writer so maybe this is a factor.


  6. Fnord

    I also communicate like this. I’ve been trying to think up a good way to explain it, but it’s hard to describe.

    First, it doesn’t seem like this quick, remote, contacts hit the same buttons for me as spending time together in person. It’s not even that I don’t get positive feelings from those kind of contacts, because I do. It’s just that they’re in a different mental bucket, as it were, so my mind doesn’t think of them as “sips” of the same happiness I get from hanging out together, it treats them as totally different things. So when I think “I enjoyed my time with [person]”, my mind doesn’t jump to “I should send [person] a text/email/call”.

    Also, as code16 described, social anxiety plays a big role. There’s a (not entirely rational) feeling that making contact with people is imposing a burden on them. I’m really reluctant to do it unless I have something practical to tell them (and sometimes even then). I have this problem even in person, but it’s more pronounced when it comes to remote contacts.

    • What you’re saying makes sense to me. And it’s comforting to know that the “radio silence” thing doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of affection/emotion, so thank you for that!

  7. Vy

    I can be an awful, awful flake when it comes to contacting people (a super-into-texting girlfriend a while back helped me to be a *little* better, but really, i’m a mess). For me the issue is a social anxiety thing for sure — if I get a text and I can sit down and respond to it immediately and have a perfect response in my head, that’s fine. The problem for me is when I go “oh, I have to think about what to say/check a fact/ am running around right now so literally can’t send a text this minute” and it because something on the “to-do” list. Once things go on the to-do list, for me, it can be very hard to get them off again (I have literally responded to texts weeks later, and emails months later, just so that they stop making me sad and guilty) when they’re not pragmatic, “put money in bank to pay rent” kind of things. Part of it is that texts and emails don’t feel conversational to me in the same way that in person chat does, so way-back-when, i just never answered them except pragmatically (behaved more like the Pedant) and was really confused when I upset people. I’m not diagnosed with any non neurotypical conditions, but I’m aware that I have a lot of trouble empathizing with certain kinds of “standard values” (upside: zero romantic jealousy. ever.) and so not responding just never “felt” rude or felt like it could be construed as some kind of comment on my feelings about a person. I think chicks in general are more penalized for this sort of thing — both in platonic relationships, where men aren’t “supposed” to be chatty or effusive, and in romantic relationships, where men don’t fear being “clingy” as much or in the same ways, and so are more comfortable asserting their “you should contact me more” preferences, so I may have picked up some patching behavior where the Pedant didn’t. But yeah, as many people upthread have pointed out, there are lots of reasons why the Pedant would be bad at sweet-nothing texting and still think you’re better than chocolate chip cookies.

  8. I communicate like that. Part of it is trying to keep my focus when I’m alone. Thinking of somebody can be distracting enough as is, and with interaction it gets even more so. I like the feeling of being alone in my head for long stretches of time. I am also not especially keen on hearing about daily life things, or telling about mine. I tend to assume people are fine and doing their things without them having to tell me about it. It is not interesting to me. The kind of interaction I find the most rewarding tends to be intense and time consuming and therefore not an everyday kind of thing, and I’m not that much into anything less than that.

    Also, I am afraid if I get used to daily/regular communications I’ll freak if one day they don’t happen. I don’t want to get used to things, don’t want to take them for granted.

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