“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”
~ Mandy Hale
Men won’t always behave the way we expect them to. The more we hold onto expectations, the more it will lead to disappointment.
If you’re in a dating relationship and initiating contact with texts and calls, and notice the guy rarely initiates but still responds to yours, you may feel frustrated and at a loss of what to do.
If you’re the anxious type, you may overcompensate for his behavior and keep reaching out to him. If you assume he’s not interested and take it personal, you may stop reaching out altogether. If you doubt yourself, you may keep calls and texts on a surface level, assume he isn’t up for any deep conversation, and just keep the texting and chatting going.
When we overreact in a relationship, we end up more frustrated and make assumptions that are harmful to the relationship.
Even if assumptions are useful to make an educated “guess” about a person’s personality, they can lead to feeling stuck in a relationship. For example:
“He’s not initiating contact because he’s shy.”
“He’s not initiating contact because he’s busy.”
“He’s not initiating contact because he’s insecure.”
While some of these assumptions could be true, bottom line – you don’t know what’s really going on with him unless you observe, ask or get to know him better.
If you’ve read my articles, you know that I encourage women to empower themselves in their relationships through communication, self-care and boundaries. So if you really like the guy and want to get to know him, here are things to keep in mind that can be more helpful than playing the guessing game:
- Be the pursuer
Accept that you are the pursuer in the relationship, at least for the time being. This way you’re not reacting from anxiety or uncertainty, but a place of conscious awareness and decision. If you’re acting from a grounded place, trust your decision and let go.
- Know what you can change
Recognize that you can’t change him. Unless he wants to change something about himself that he sees as a problem, wishing he was different or coaching him won’t work. People make changes only if they’re invested in doing so.
- Be confident
If he’s someone you’re interested in getting to know, you can’t take it personal if he doesn’t initiate contact. Remain confident and know you can only do your part in the interaction. Don’t play games or fall into passive-aggressive behavior just to make a point.
- Approach deeper topics
Don’t assume that he’s not “strong” enough to handle deeper conversations. Don’t avoid topics because you’re afraid it’ll push him away. Be open about your feelings. Let him know you’re the one initiating contact and that you notice that he rarely does. It’s important to communicate at the onset of a relationship and ask for what you want.
- Maintain boundaries
If you’ve chosen to initiate contact, keep a healthy distance and pace, and maintain boundaries. If he stops responding to your texts/calls then you know he’s not interested. But until then, keep being you and showing him that you’re genuinely interested in getting to know him.
- Know what you want
In romantic relationships, it’s important to know what you want. If you’re looking for a traditional relationship, a guy who does the pursuing, then this type of relationship is probably not for you.
In any relationship, taking care of ourselves is key. Doing what makes us feel good and pursuing our own goals and dreams is what brings happiness. Exercise, spend time in nature, listen to music, read and keep feeding your soul. When we nurture ourselves through self-care, self-love and self-acceptance, everything else falls into place.
Kavita A. Hatten, MS, LPC, NCC- www.phoenixcounseling.net
#1. It’s ok to be direct
Communication is something that needs to be addressed regularly in a relationship, whether or not it’s going well. Texting, calling, and even emailing are certainly some topics to include in this conversation.
Being direct and honest without being aggressive/passive-aggressive or hurtful is the goal with this check-in.
- I really like our texts during the day. I would really like it if you initiated them sometimes.
- Hearing from you always makes my day a little less overwhelming.
#2. Give a minimum
Simple and easy directions is your goal here. The less he has to think or worry about, the more he’ll accomplish. Give your partner a goal of texting you once a day. It can be as simple as Hey, Good morning, or Hope you have a good day, or even a silly GIF.
Remember, the goal is to initiate contact. Don’t have the goal of this leading to an in-depth text exchange.
Each time he initiates, make sure to express appreciation when he’s relaxed and present. You can then give him a goal of two times in the day and so on. You may end up realizing you only need him to initiate a few times a week to feel connected to him and that he cares.
#3. What was he taught about initiating contact?
This is where curiosity is your most helpful tool. Consider your partner’s upbringing and what they learned about relationships. Not all men are taught they have to initiate contact after the relationship has been established for years. We are all guilty of getting comfortable in relationships.
- Questions to consider: Do you like texting or prefer face-to-face contact? and Have others always initiated contact with you in your life?
#4. Get to know his schedule
If you know he is in meetings from 8am to 2pm, this may not be a good time to hope or expect a text from him. If you know he takes off lunch every day at 12pm, then this might be a way in. When expressing your needs, meet in the middle and make sure they’re realistic in his life as well.
Sarah Vendegna, MS, LPC – www.vendegnacounseling.com
This is a common question amongst women who are dating. So much so I hear social media influencers or relationship coaches talking about it all the time. There are some hard truths that we must admit to ourselves when it comes to relationships, communication in relationships, what we really want or look for and what is our part in it all.
The first thing to ask yourself is, are you playing the text game with the partner?
Did he text first, should you text first? Should I wait three days? If he responds this way does it mean this or that?
Relationships are not games to be played and the best way to show up in a relationship is to be honest, authentic and ask for what you want instead of playing a game.
Be authentic with your text instead of texting to see if he will respond.
The back-and-forth text dance with the expectation that it means he is in to you or you are looking for external validation seems to always hurt us in some way because we don’t get the response we want.
Remember it’s a text message, more meaningful communication should be done in person or at least over the phone.
I’m not saying don’t text just use text as a check in or a quick “thinking of you” instead of deep relationship talk. Also ask yourself, what are you looking for? Can I send a text without expectations?
Let go of the expectation, they hurt us and are rigid and start us down a negative thinking path.
I know that is hard to do because you are hoping for a connection. It’s better to ask for what you want instead of assuming or have an unspoken expectation.
Third, it’s not what he says it ‘s what he does.
Starting or being in a relationship is about actions not just words. To me the dance of he doesn’t initiate but responds feels like he is dangling a carrot out there for you, so you won’t let go until he decides what he wants.
I know that is a hard truth but, in my opinion, if they are interested, they are initiating and communicating with you in an adult and mature way. Remind yourself this isn’t all about him, this is about you! You decide what is right for you, what you want and how you want to feel.
Healthy relationships share mutual respect, understanding and the willingness to communicate clearly even in conflict.
If there is an unhealthy dance of, he never initiates and only responds, and you are left feeling uncertain or not great it is time to reevaluate what you really want and what you are looking for? Don’t chase after the dangling carrot, or play the dance of who is texting first, own your decisions, be clear on what you want and love yourself first!!
Monica Burton, MS LMFT – www.monicaburtonlmft.com
It sounds like you are looking for something more with this guy – that you’re interested in him romantically. However, you are confused. You can see that his responses are friendly enough, but you wonder why he doesn’t do the initiating, at least some of the time.
Well, there may be any number of explanations for his behavior, but usually the simplest explanation is the best one and to my way of thinking it is this:
He just isn’t all that into you.
Sure, he responds because he’s polite (his mother probably taught him good manners). His responses might even be somewhat flirtatious. But that is the beginning and end of it.
If he were keen, he’d be contacting you.
If he were keen, there would be honest-to-goodness mutuality, and reciprocity in this relationship. That is, if you can call it a relationship, because it doesn’t sound like you even have much of a connection.
So, here is my question for you: is this enough for you? And a closely related question: do you wish to continue to flog a dead horse?
My hope for you, of course, is that you will come to see this situation for what it is and decide to move on. I also hope that you will come to want more than this phantom connection and that you will not continue to settle for crumbs in this or any future relationship.
And above all else, dear reader, I hope that you will come to see that you are worth more than the nothingburger he is offering.
And that is because, whether you realize it or not, you are worthy of more. Much, much more.
Mary Rizk, Transformative Coach – www.maryrizk.com
Poor communication shows up in a variety of ways in a relationship.
It can look like not effectively communicating your needs, not letting your partner know when you are hurt, and not being an active or engaged listener. Poor communication can also consist of not initiating contact, but responding when you reach out.
He may not initiate contact for a few different reasons.
Perhaps this is the tone that was set for him in other relationships. Maybe it’s related to anxiety or being perceived as “needy”. Whatever the reason behind it, it can feel frustrating when you feel as though you are the only one putting in the effort to communicate and engage with him.
Here are some other questions to ask yourself if you are in a relationship with someone who does this:
- How does his behavior make you feel? Unseen? Invalidated? Unloved?
- Does he communicate better in other ways – face to face? On the phone?
- Are you comfortable with this dynamic? How would you like it to change?
Context is always important.
If the lack of initiating contact is a new behavior in the relationship, then reflect on what may have changed in either your relationship or in his life outside the relationship. If this has been a consistent behavior since the beginning of your relationship, then what’s changed for you that this has become an issue?
How to approach this issue
- Have a candid, face-to-face conversation and let him know how you feel using “I” statements versus “you” statements which may feel accusatory
- Ask him questions about his preferred method of communication and attempt to compromise how you will reach out to each other
- Ask yourself a hard but necessary question: is this relationship meeting my needs?
- Explore individual or couples therapy to learn important communication tools or to address the above question about the relationship meeting your needs
Anusha Zechella, Ph.D., HSP-P – www.breytapsych.com
Text messaging can include its challenges, but it can also be a great way to keep in contact with your partner throughout the day.
Sending a daily message to let you guy know you are thinking of him keeps the connection fun. Try being flirty in your texts, letting you man know you find him attractive, appreciate him, look forward to seeing him, and other sweet sentiments. Your man might even respond back to you with the same tone, further keeping that wooing going on between the two of you. This is great for the relationship!
So often texting is a method of venting frustrations, complaining, arguing, and conveying negative communications. Avoid using texting for these types of exchanges.
It is just not a good idea, and rarely if ever, solves the problem. These bigger types of issues are best discussed in person where tone is heard, not assumed, and you can read body language.
If you find that you are the one who typically does the reaching out to your partner and he rarely initiates the contact, notice if he responds to the messages you send him. As long as he responds to you, great!
Perhaps he is just not a texting type of guy, or is busy, or does not think about reaching out.
If it is important to you that he initiates a text to you more often, share this with him, but do this in person, not over texting!
Express to him how it makes you feel when he reaches out first.
Make sure that when he does reach out you are using that time to enjoy each other, rather than demand or complain. He could be avoiding your nagging if that is all you do through texts, so keep it fun and enjoyable for both of you.
Dr. Tracy S. Kelly, LMFT – www.DrTracyKelly.com
One partner usually initiates an open dialogue so that the other person is encouraged to talk. And since communication is the most important element of a successful relationship, you want to keep the lines of communication open. Good communication should build trust, improve your physical and emotional connection and enhance your intimacy. However, if your exchanges are poor, it can do just the opposite and destroy the foundation that holds a relationship together.
Communication takes patience. The following are some things you can do to open the door to improvement, especially when your partner appears to be reluctant.
- Learn to understand non-verbal cues to tap into feelings that are not expressed. If your partner is appearing annoyed, through his comments, or lack of comments, it may be necessary to share your concerns.
- Try to attack the problem, not the person. Your partner is still the lovable and good person you are attracted to, but it is the behavior you may not be happy about. Talk about that specifically, to avoid blaming, shaming or laying on guilt.
- Find your sense of humor. Many times situations are so absurd that you can laugh about it, easing the tension, disappointment or annoyance. Lightening up the situation may make it easier to open up the dialogue about his poor communication style.
- Does he really care? You want to understand if his lack of initiative is because he’s just lazy or too busy and not because he isn’t that interested in you.
Communication is a two-way process that involves listening and receiving information.
If it becomes too one-sided, it gets frustrating. Your goal is to be sure your partner understands the importance of openness and honesty and that you will not accept anything less. Your insights and influence will go a long way in creating the ideal relationship you deserve.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
This man sounds either very passive, too polite to not respond to a text or not interested. I would suggest telling him that you need him to initiate contact sometimes because when he doesn’t you wonder if he’s actually interested in you.
People tell you who they are by their words and their actions.
Actions are the most important because, let’s face it, people can say anything. Whether we choose to hear what is being communicated to us is another issue. Wanting someone to be interested in you can make you ignore what their actions are really telling you.
It’s not difficult to show someone that you are interested in them.
It’s also not difficult to communicate if you aren’t. You need to pay attention to the messages that you are getting. Rude, inconsiderate, or selfish actions are part of a person’s language.
When you ignore, or maybe minimize bad behavior, you run the risk of getting into a relationship in which your needs and feelings are unimportant to your partner. These kinds of relationships eventually take a heavy toll on your self-esteem, not to mention your overall feelings of happiness.
Most people tell you who they are right from the beginning.
Except for the few charmers who might fool you for a while, you can see a person’s character from the way he treats you right from the start. If the behavior is bad at the beginning, imagine how bad it will be once the relationship progresses. Women who tolerate bad behavior embolden their partners to ever worsening behavior because they get away with it. Don’t make excuses; demand respect and get out if you don’t get it.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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