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More Text Talk

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: My girlfriend's father has a knack for calling or texting me at the most inconvenient times during the day or night. I get random texts from him while I'm in meetings or have my boss in my office.

Over the last few weeks, he's started calling and texting me until I answer or reply to his text during the middle of the night. The last three times, I've been out on calls with the volunteer fire department I belong to. I don't think he understands that I can't answer if I'm out on a call or driving one of our engines.

I've talked to my girlfriend and her mom about it. My girlfriend's dad and I get along very well, so I don't want to offend him. How do I handle this situation? -- Frustrated Boyfriend

Dear Frustrated: Since you have a good rapport with your girlfriend's father, consider having a candid conversation with him. Express your appreciation for his eagerness to communicate but clarify your schedule and the demands of your commitments, especially your role with the volunteer fire department. Perhaps there are specific times during the day when you are more available to chat, or you two can set up a regular time to catch up. This could help him feel connected without disrupting your responsibilities.

Take advantage of your phone's "Do Not Disturb" feature during meetings or at night but set him (and other important contacts) as exceptions who can reach you in case of an actual emergency. This way, you manage when and how communications happen without completely cutting off the possibility of necessary contact.

Navigating this with sensitivity and openness will likely lead to a solution that respects both your commitments and his desire to stay in touch.

Dear Annie: I suspect you will receive numerous letters to this effect, but I felt compelled to respond to the letter from "Tired of Text Messages," whose retired father is also persistent in his daily text messages. I didn't get the impression that the letter writer was estranged with their father or had a tough relationship, so I have to say, what a wonderful problem to have.

 

After college, I moved four hours away from home, and my dad and I kept in touch via daily emails and calls on our respective ways home from work. Once text messaging was commonplace, my dad and I would often shoot each other random texts throughout the day. Most were of very little significance, just daily observations and updates or comments on our favorite sports team. My brother, who also moved away, did the same thing with him. Yes, there were definitely times when the messages felt excessive while we may have been at work or on vacation, etc., and there were certainly times I got annoyed, but it was our way of staying in each other's lives.

My dad died last year and I wanted to tell "Tired" that I would give literally anything to see my phone light up with one more text from my dad. I treasure the messages I do have saved on my phone because, mundane and ordinary as many of them are, rereading them feels like having another conversation with him. I know we all tend to take for granted the fact that our parents will always be there, and of course we get annoyed and frustrated by them at times. But there will come a time when the texts stop forever, so although I agree a conversation about boundaries is needed, I also hope "Tired" can appreciate that their dad is likely just trying to stay connected. -- Missing My Dad

Dear Missing: Thank you for this beautiful and important reminder. Excessive and annoying as these communications may feel sometimes, they are only coming from a place of love and a desire for connection.

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"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.



 

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