A couple of years ago, I worked with a client that struggled to get over a six-month ‘relationship’ where it had become apparent that her now-ex had limited interest and was seeing other women. She wanted feedback on an email she intended to send to him expressing her discontent. This immediately had me curious. All became clear when I asked about how often they communicated–there had only been two phone calls in six months. Two. Everything else was texts and emails. That wasn’t a ‘relationship’; it was like being a sexual pen pal.

When it all boiled down to it, most of the lazy communication via text and email served four purposes:

  • Arranging to get together (read: hook up).
  • Getting a quick ego stroke.
  • Quickly watering her ‘attention garden’ so that she continued to dangle on the hook.
  • Keeping her (and anyone else) he was seeing at a distance.

I’ve come across many people, mostly women, that are in this situation, and the truth is this:

From the perspective of the ‘offender’, it’s obvious that this isn’t a relationship. For them, it’s a casual arrangement where they get a shag, an ego stroke, and a shoulder to lean on. For instance, in the above example, he only called twice in six months. He knows it’s not how either of you behave if you’re in a relationship.

Let’s be real: If you only called someone you had sex or ‘romantic involvement’ with occasionally, would you really think that you were that interested in them? Would you think they’re a priority?

Unfortunately, we’ve dropped our standards of what a relationship or someone being interested constitutes.

In ‘olden times’ (read: pre text, email, IM, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc), if someone wasn’t calling you and arranging to see you regularly, plus the relationship wasn’t growing, you knew they weren’t making an effort. You knew they had limited interest in you and being in a relationship.

In ‘modern times’, we think that when someone doesn’t call, and possibly doesn’t even see us that often, but they use the written word in these modern ways and enjoy the ‘trappings’ of being a couple, such as sex, that they’re ‘interested’, although we might realise, on some level, that it’s not as much as we would like.

For those of us that live in La La Land and would rather have a semblance of a ‘relationship’ on some terms rather than none, all this tippy-tapping of messages convinces us that they’re interested. We rationalise that an obstacle of some sort prevents them from getting in touch via traditional means. Or, we claim they’re ‘shy’ or ‘busy’ or that it’s the ‘new’ way of doing relationships.

A new way of doing things? Genuine interaction, courtesy, respect, care, trust, and intimacy aren’t dead or old. Yes, we have some extra communication options. However, people only claim it’s the ‘new way of doing things’ to legitimise crappy behaviour. Don’t participate.

Surely someone who isn’t really interested in us wouldn’t continue to text, email, DM, etc., and give the impression of being interested while sleeping with us, maybe expecting us to listen to their problems and give them an ego stroke? Believe it.

We want to be understanding. Heaven forbid we are too ‘needy’, put pressure on them, or, ooh, have expectations and standards.

We want to be easygoing. The last thing we want to do is scare them off by attempting to clarify where we stand.

Here’s the thing: Expecting bare basics, such as this person calling and you being able to call them on a regular basis, to scare them off, means you 1) have to recognise that the relationship is doomed and 2) you could stand to raise your standards somewhat.

The fact that someone would ever put you in the position of not knowing when you might hear from them next indicates a relationship without basic respect. Same for avoiding your calls. Or their disappearing and then texting trying to pick up where they left off. Or any other completely shady behaviour,

Relationships require effort, connection, and intimacy, as well as love, care, trust, and respect. The way of ‘olden times’ is actually exactly as it is now.

If they’re not calling and making genuine, human efforts that involve voice and sight to grow your relationship and, instead, they rely on lazy forms of communication, you’re in a lazy ‘arrangement’ with a limited connection that fosters false intimacy and builds sandcastles in the sky.

If they’re not calling and making genuine, human efforts that involve voice and sight to grow your relationship and, instead, they rely on lazy forms of communication, you’re in a lazy ‘arrangement’ with a limited connection that fosters false intimacy and builds sandcastles in the sky.

If they’re not calling you regularly or at all and instead opt for distanced means of communication, they are not that interested in you. They’re stoking your fire for when they next want your company.

It doesn’t matter if it’s not what you want or you didn’t ‘verbally’ agree to it. By participating and acting like it’s a full-on relationship, they end up getting more for less.

Just because sex is involved and this person’s ‘nice’ when they do eventually speak to or see you, doesn’t make it a relationship.

  • If they’re not calling you regularly, they’re not that interested in you.
  • If they’re not seeing you regularly, they’re not that interested in you.
  • If they predominantly want to communicate via text, email, socials, etc., they’re passing time with you. They’re keeping you on the fringes of their life, not in their ‘inner circle’. As they say in ‘Meet The Parents’, you’re not in the “circle of trust”.
  • If their communication pretty much centres around or leads to making an arrangement for sex and any other fringe benefits that say ‘relationship without the relationship’, it’s a hook-up (read: booty call) and hanging out.
  • If you don’t know when you’re next going to hear from, you’re not in a relationship. And if you genuinely believe you are, you’re in a shady relationship tolerating disrespect.
  • If they started out calling all the time and they’ve faded out to texting, DM’ng, etc., they’ve backed off. The novelty has worn off, and they’re managing down your expectations. Let the alarm bells start ringing when you start out with decent, if not somewhat intense communication and it fades to a dribble.
  • If their way of telling you they miss you, checking in on you, or even saying they want to get back together is via text, email, etc., and they don’t pick up the phone or come to see you, they’re incredibly lazy.
  • If they’re reluctant to move away from texts, DMs and emails to regular calls and seeing one another, they’re hedging their bets, checking out other options, or reluctant to give you the impression that you’re a priority or that you’re in a relationship.
  • If they’re calling everyone else, making contact with everyone else, but you don’t hear a peep or are last in line, they’re not interested.

People who are actually in a relationship or even dating each another can pick up the phone to one another.

If you can’t, or you fear what will happen if you do, you’ve got problems. If you’re afraid to broach the subject of seeing them and you’ve been dating for several weeks or months and you’re feeling committed to them, this is a red flag that needs addressing.

One of the key components that distinguishes a bonafide, mutually fulfilling, healthy, loving relationship from being a casual/booty call/passing time situation or even a friendship is intimacy. Not only do the likes of texting erode intimacy, but the reliance on lazy means of communication is the mainstay of the emotionally unavailable that fear intimacy.

Do you want to get to know someone? Want to grow on all levels from dating into a relationship? Do you want to ensure you’re not Dial-A-Lay, Dial-An-Ego Stroke, or Dial-An-Emotional-Airbag? Keep lazy forms of communication to the minimum in your interactions.

I’m not saying don’t use them. However, texts/DMs/emails supplement being face to face and getting on the phone, not substitute. Texting is ridiculously prevalent in too many barely-there relationships. Not only are these lazy means open to miscommunication of tone, but they’re also open to miscommunication of intent and interest.

Actions still speak louder than words, and that includes the written word.

And you have to hold up your end of the bargain. The amount of emails I read from readers who do the following is scary:

  • Sending a text/email to express discontent, to raise an issue for the first time, including, and I kid you not, confronting a current partner about cheating.
  • Using Facebook pages to force the other person to get in touch by posting TMI (too much information) messages
  • Sending emails complaining about the relationship and regularly listing their shortcomings and what the problems are. I call this People Who Write Too Much. They don’t want to ‘fix’; they want to vent. They’re also avoiding conflict and criticism, which means they’re avoiding intimacy.
  • Breaking up via email and text, and one of the most frequent occurrences, breaking No Contact via text and email.

We engage in lazy communication because it’s low risk and ‘safe’.

Yeah, we’ll still get hurt, but it’s not what we imagine it would be if we really put ourselves out there. And truth be told, some of us engage in these means of communication because we get to be far more aggressive than we would be if we were face-to-face or on the phone. This is not conducive to a healthy relationship.

If you use lazy communication modes to manage the pace and temperature of the relationship, to create false intimacy, to express feelings that you wouldn’t express face to face, to confront others, to avoid ‘scary’ face-to-face conflict and to dodge and minimise opportunities for rejection, you are guilty of lazy communication and you are fostering lazy relationships.

Don’t allow someone to control the relationship, and don’t sell yourself down the river for trickles of attention. You deserve more. Stop selling yourself short.

Keep your investment proportionate. If they’re not making proper efforts to interact via phone and face-to-face on a regular basis and keep protesting about how busy they are and yadda yadda yadda, you need to roll back your level of investment.

Don’t project dodgy excuses for why they’re not making an effort.

  • It’s not because they’re shy.
  • They’re not the Busiest Person on Earth.
  • It’s not because they’re better at texting than talking.
  • It’s not because they want to make the most of their 500 free texts a month.
  • Believe me, it’s not because they’re from another country.
  • It’s not because they can be more uninhibited (read: say sexual stuff).
  • They’re saving up everything for when they see you.

It’s time to be honest and ask: What means more to you–having a semblance of ‘something’ on any terms rather than no terms? Or having an actual relationship?

Whichever it is, own that choice. If you genuinely want to be in a loving relationship, letting someone string you along with crumbs of lazy communication is not the way to it, no more than raising issues via these means is.

But letting go of someone who strings you along and setting basic standards of communication from the outset quickly weeds out the shady and the lazy. It ensures that you get to put your whole self into your relationships.

We can’t, much as we may want to, have it all ways. It’s the whole ‘shortcut’ issue where we want to set low standards by having little or no boundaries, accepting dubious behaviour, while still getting the relationship we claim to want.

We want to turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse and we get frustrated when, surprise, surprise, that’s impossible. These types of situations are not destined to become ‘great’ relationships.

Think of it this way: if you were dating someone and they had the option of calling you and the option of seeing you but they chose to, instead, send you an occasional ‘note’ or preferred to send you letters but not really move things along, or left voicemails but in reality only spoke with you infrequently, or only contacted you when they wanted to get together, what would you think?

Remember: Lazy communication equals lazy relationship.

You deserve more than that. Don’t sell yourself short.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks The No Contact Rule, Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl, and more in my bookshop.

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