First off, I don’t exactly have a “problem.” I have a loving girlfriend who is smart, successful, supportive of me, and we get along really well. We don’t live together. We hang out 3-5 days a week, on average. These times are great. But the rest of the time, I barely hear from her. I don’t get texted back, forget calling. I see her on social media sites, but she doesn’t respond to chats either. But again, our time together is always so good, I never ask her about these other times. Should I be worried? Should I ask her if something’s going on? Or am I just being a freak?
My friend, my pal, my sweet, lovable freak; I shall call you Smitten & Skittish.
So, S&S, I’m going to guess you’ve had some nights of light sleep. Perhaps some uncomfortable dreams. Definitely some distracted hangouts with friends (hellooo?). Maybe it even takes you a little longer than you’d like to admit to settle in to spending time with your girlfriend. A bit anxious?
Well, I don’t think I’m being newsworthy by stating that you have trust issues, because you knew that, right?
That said, it’s okay to have trust issues. Trust is a tricky thing, and everybody does it a little differently. Trust can be quick and flashing as lightning, or as permanent and pervasive as the Pacific Ocean. We all have formative histories, past and present conditions, and relationship ideals that influence how and when we offer up trust, as well as unique definitions as to what trust actually is.
Merriam-Webster defines trust as the “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” The “etc.” is the part that is most interesting though, don’t you think? Theoretically, could you trust someone to be boring? Or rude? Or selfish? Or slutty? Is “trust” limited to beliefs in someone or something’s inherent goodness? Or is it just believing that there are fixed characteristics of any type, “good” or “bad?”
Though this seems tangential, it’s not, I promise. But let me get back to you, S&S.
Plain and simple, you need to initiate a conversation with your girlfriend. Ask her why she doesn’t respond to your communication efforts when you two are apart. Let her know that you’d like to have more consistent communication on days you don’t see each other, (because it sure seems like you want that), and find out if she’d be able to fully or partially accommodate your request.
Fair warning: she may have logistical (e.g., she leaves her phone at home sometimes to “disconnect”) or theoretical (e.g., she doesn’t want to rush into a seriously committed relationship) barriers to obliging you, and this is okay! In fact, any such information should be received as purely helpful, as it allows you to build a more accurate and personalized trust of her, a trust that falls somewhere under the all-encompassing “etc.” umbrella of trust.
Let’s say she agrees that she’ll respond to your texts, but would prefer not to chat with you online. Your trust can then shift from the perhaps unattainable, “I can or should be able to trust that my girlfriend will respond to any/all of my communications as soon as she is able,” to a more realistic, “I can trust that she will respond to my texts within a reasonable timeframe, and she can trust that I will give her the space she wants and needs online.” This, S&S, is a win-win, and the makings of a relationship in which you’re going to feel as good as dog ears flapping in the wind.
So, that takes care of the “out here” stuff (moving my arms around). There’s still the “in here” stuff that needs some TLC (pointing to head and heart).
You asked if you should be worried or if you should ask your girlfriend if “something is going on.” I’ll interpret this as you ARE worried, and you DO think your girlfriend may be engaging in somewhat questionable behavior, and you’re a little embarrassed about all of this.
“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” – Swedish Proverb
Our minds have Herculean abilities to fabricate, formulate, obsess and scheme. If you believe everything you think, you’ll undoubtedly go mad, with the added consequence of, yes, coming across as a paranoid freak, even if bits and pieces of your stories hold some truth.
Here’s the thing: if your girlfriend is cheating or lying to you, the ugly facts will eventually surface, and she’ll be the asshole. But, the more important question is: what do you want to be, if and when that ever occurred? The successful sleuth? The nervous wreck? The broken-hearted, betrayed, unworthy chump? Her actions don’t and won’t define you, but yours do and will. Be the human, the friend, the partner that you are proud of being.
Lastly, perhaps you can take a nod from your girlfriend, and make sure that you’re actually enjoying your life (you do have one, right?) when you’re apart. How are your friendships? Got interests or hobbies? How about your physical health? To be in a successful relationship, to be a full circle in an oh-so-desirable Venn diagram (see below), you need to be a whole human. For a quick litmus test of your relationship health and individual “wholeness,” check out the quiz I made for elephant journal online.
To you becoming Smitten & Self-Assured? / Superb? / Secure? / Stolid? / you let me know?