The bad feelings that emerge when a person we care about doesn’t respond to our communications is an increasingly frequent theme in the fast-paced and complex world in which we live. And it’s not only related to the use of messaging technologies: this article could have been titled “why doesn’t he/she seem interested in me?” Or “Why do I have the feeling that I am driving this relationship while he / she does nothing but try to keep up with me?” We are talking about a much more general problem, it concerns the distance we often perceive in the way we manage the relationship and can be valid both for friendships and relationships with emotional involvement (at least from one of the two).
Obviously behind this problem there can be a very simple reason: he / she is not sufficiently interested in us. Maybe he has other interests, other things on his mind, other priorities in life, and he’s not willing to sacrifice anything for us. Or he has another type of relationship similar to the one we are experiencing on our own, and so while we are putting our involvement into play, he / she is doing the same with someone else. If these are the cases, it’s clear that we will have to accept it, respect the choices of that person and walk away. It can be difficult if you have invested so much in that relationship, but working on ourselves and taking the necessary time, sooner or later we will succeed.
The real problem arises when you have consistent elements to believe that you don’t fit into any of the previous cases. Perhaps because they are the ones who explicitly ask us to be patient, not to abandon them, or because they have repeatedly told us that the relationship with us is very important to them and that when we don’t talk they miss us. This creates great confusion in our head. And the typical questions are: how is it possible that he/she misses me and doesn’t even text to tell me? How can he/she say that I am important to him/her and then he/she has not texted me for two days, while perhaps he/she found time to have a coffee with that friend or co-worker? Did I do something wrong? Is he/she lying to me? Are we simply too different to make it work?
The truth is that often it’s just as they say. They miss us, we are important to them, we did nothing wrong. Because the real reason why this is happening is in the different nature of each of us: each person has his own speed, his own intensity to invests in a relationship. It depends on the energy available to you, the mental speed, the time you can mentally dedicate to that relationship. Some people have more time and energy than others and are therefore able to “run” faster in a relationship, reaching advanced states of involvement before the others. Because maybe the others simply have less time (we are talking about mental time) available for that relationship, and less (mental) energy to invest.
In those cases, it may very well happen that at the right moments he/she is very close to us and knows how to make us understand how important we are. While on other days he even has time to go to the gym, to play with the smartphone, to stay on social media or to lay on the couch watching TV, but not enough time to text us. Often it doesn’t mean that we are less important than TV: it means that they need a greater amount of mental time and energy before coming to us, and they don’t feel they have enough of it to participate in the relationship with the right intensity. Whereas a coffee with a colleague or a film on TV are activities you can do even when mental time and energies are limited.
When that happens, it’s wrong to take it out on them. They are already doing their best. They simply have a way to manage time and energy different than us. They have different speeds, and can’t keep up with our pace. Maybe it’s a limit in the way they manage their time or their own personality, maybe it’s a choice that comes from giving more space to work, family or other goals, because they need it for their identity. It’s always possible that that person is actually less involved than us, or he/she is experiencing a moment of personal doubt about this relationship itself and needs time to clarify things with himself/herself (this can be especially true when there is emotional involvement), but often it simply depends on the fact that you live life differently. In those cases, if on the one hand it is possible to propose possible solutions for them to better meet our needs / expectations (solutions that do not always work, we have to say), on the other hand it’s certainly important to respect the way they live and accept the fact that probably those people often won’t be able to give us the involvement, the intensity we would like from them.
It doesn’t mean that we are wrong or weird. It means we are different. If we are fast thinkers, it will be more difficult for us to establish a mental or emotional connection that goes at the speed we would like: we need a person with whom we have affinity, who has the same energies, the same time to invest and our own mental speed. Maybe a combination too ambitious to be found in one only person. But it’s always possible to “settle for it”, in the positive sense of the term: accepting the fact that our expectations cannot be completely satisfied and still deciding to continue that relationship, because maybe it can still compensate us, help us, make us happy from other points of view.
The perfect relationship doesn’t exist. There is only the one that makes both of you sufficiently satisfied and fulfilled. And if a part of us perhaps doesn’t find complete expression in that relationship, maybe it will still be able to express itself in different ways. Keeping a journal in which we write our thoughts, for example, or drawing, dedicating ourselves to our hobbies, talking more regularly with a family member or a close friend with whom there is just as much affinity. We are all complex people, with many different needs, and demanding all our needs to be fully satisfied, all together and all by the same person, is simply asking too much.