Dear Wendy: “Am I An Attention Whore?”

My boyfriend and I have been seeing each other for three months, and currently live together. I’m just gonna cut to the chase here: he’s not good about replying to my texts. Usually, with my past significant others, I would always have cute little mushy text convos all day. However, when I text my current boyfriend a cute little, “I’m thinking about you” text or even a “What are you doing?” text, he rarely replies. Sometimes he will say he’s busy. Excuse me? Who is ever too busy to send a little measly text back to someone you love? And not only that, but he’s just not good with communication AT ALL. I’ve been stood up by him for lunch dates with no notice. He often has legitimate reasons, but he doesn’t even text or call me. He also doesn’t tell me what he does throughout his day. For example, if he gets off work early, or goes shopping, or has lunch with his buddies, he won’t even let me know what’s going on; I’m always blindsided. I’ve talked to him about this issue several times and he admits he’s not a good texter, but I know that’s a lie because I’ve seen him text other people back right away. Am I missing something here? Is there any way I can tell him how I feel without sounding like I’m an attention whore who needs my boyfriend to text me 24/7? I mean, maybe just four texts a day would be perfect. Am I overreacting here? — The Texter

Wait a minute; you’re blindsided by your boyfriend going to lunch with his buddies? Seriously? I mean, maybe that’s the problem here. If you’re trying to keep such a tight leash on the guy that when he goes out with his buddies on his lunch brea, you actually feel blindsided, maybe the reason he’s avoiding your text messages is because he’s had enough with your omnipresence in his life. Maybe he’s avoiding your texts because he has the freedom to and he’s desperately holding on to every freedom he has for as long as he can. And I can’t help but wonder if any of this has something to do with the fact that you already live together after dating only three months. Maybe this is an issue of too much too soon and your constant stream of text messages throughout the day only serves to remind him of this.

The bottom line, though, is that you’re being needy and clingy — or, as you say, an “attention whore”— the very traits that scare men away faster than an evening of Bravo programming. Take it a down a notch. Cultivate a little mystery. “But I was this way with all my ex-boyfriends!” I can almost hear you argue. “I had mushy text covos with them all day!” Well … how did those relationships work out for you? All I’m saying is, reign in the texting. Take the hint that your boyfriend isn’t into it. Dish it out in much, much smaller doses — a few times a week instead of a few times a day — and I bet you’ll find his responses a little more enthusiastic in the future.

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A few years ago I moved in with my then-boyfriend and our dynamic changed in a very bad way. He started staying at work late every night so we would hardly spend time together; he treated me horribly, losing interest in sex and dismissing my attempts to communicate about the change in our relationship. The worst thing was I was trapped; any other time I would have simply said “Next!” and moved on, but now I couldn’t do that due to that signature on the lease. Anyway, things came to a head and we managed to break our lease in a very expensive way. The reasons he gave for breaking up included— among other things — the fact that I had recently bought slippers and refused to dye my hair. I was rather scarred to say the least. Fast forward to my current relationship with someone who is absolutely wonderful and has recently suggested we move in together (we have been together about a year and a half). While this man seems much more calm and loving than my past boyfriend I can remember a time I thought my ex was a great person as well. I don’t trust myself to make this sort of decision but I don’t want my past to hold me back either. Any words of wisdom? — Second time’s a charm?

Your relationship with your ex didn’t implode because you moved in together; it imploded because you weren’t right for each other. Moving in together simply sped the process of figuring that out. If you hadn’t moved in with him, you likely would have broken up eventually, but without the benefit of the lessons you undoubtedly learned by spending a few months living with a partner. Now, you are in a completely different relationship. Your dynamic as live-in partners will be different than the dynamic you had with your ex, but the whole dynamic of your relationship is different. That’s not to say that you’re necessarily right for each other. I have no way of knowing that. But I can tell you you’ll found out the answer pretty quickly if you move in together. And, maybe this time, the answer will be a good one.

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