When it came to dating, or even just meeting someone, I would give him my number and that was that. I never stayed home, waiting by the phone, but I must admit - when I was home, every single time the phone would ring, I would jump. I would check the Caller ID only to be disappointed that it was one of my aunts or a friend of my parents. If I was out, the first words out of my mouth when I arrived back at home were always "did anyone call me?" When I was home to receive calls, I would stay on the phone for hours, especially if it was someone I liked. I once stayed on the phone with a boy from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. (don't tell my mom).
At age 17, I, like almost everyone else my age, had a pager. It was bright pink and it was the beginning of the end. Through my pager, one could get a hold of me at any time, and if there was a phone around, I would call back almost immediately (once, my friend N. and I drove around searching for a pay phone just so I could call a boy who had paged me). There were cute little codes attached, such as "1-4-3" (code for "I Love You" one letter, four letters, three letters) or people were assigned special codes. All of a sudden, it didn't matter if I was at home or not, anyone could get a hold of me (including my mom, who would page me when I was breaking curfew).
Eventually, pagers segued into cell phones. Sadly, I am addicted to my phone. It is always within reach - either in my pocket, on the table while I'm at a bar or restaurant, or on my nightstand. When I meet someone, we always exchange cell phone numbers, and every time I get a notification that I have a new text, I check it anxiously, hoping it's whatever new failed relationship-waiting-to-happen (and if it isn't him, I feel the same disappointment I used to feel when I would check the Caller ID so many years ago. No offense to my friends). There is also a new phenomenon going on with me that has started up in the last two years or so. The problem? Using phone calls and text messages as gauges of "proof." Proof he likes me, proof he's thinking of me, proof that he wants me.
I'm not sure how it started, but somewhere along the line, I have gotten it in my head that if a man is romantically interested in me, he'll call and text relentlessly and if he doesn't, then it means he isn't really interested in me. Now, a lot of times it's true - when someone isn't interested, he'll usually just blow me off instead of being straight-forward about it, but I have developed a strange anxiety, waiting for the phone to ring or the annoying little chime telling me there is a new text message. When I do receive a text message, I analyze every word, scrutinize every letter, looking for hidden clues (because you know, "hey, how are you?" has so much more meaning to it). Worse, if I want to talk to someone, I won't text or call lest I seem desperate, sprung or under his spell.
Really, it's a power play. While I want to talk to the person I'm interested in, I want him to call or text me first because I want him to be sprung, under my spell and completely and utterly fascinated with me. I want him to feel a deep seated need to talk to me every morning and evening and all the minutes in-between. I want him to be unable to function unless he speaks with me. All of this because it validates me - the feeling of being wanted, desired and dare I say it, loved... or potentially loved. Hearing from someone, knowing he is thinking of me, makes the days and nights so much less lonely. I want proof that I am special.
The problem with proof is this: I don't really need it - I want it. If someone has feelings for me, he has feelings for me, and I shouldn't have to question it. The constant need to hear from someone (and thus coming to the conclusion that he must not like me if he doesn't send me a "good morning" text) comes from my own insecurity and fear. Worse, as much as I complain about guys not calling me enough, if they call too soon, or too much, or if I don't really like them and they're sending me good morning texts, then I am immediately put off by the constant calls. My friend D. finally said to me: "it doesn't matter what they do, it's never enough, is it?"
That's what it comes down to. Nothing is never enough because, once again, it's about my own fear and insecurity. The cure for this? Stop relying on the frequency of phone calls for proof. Stop scrutinizing the "hidden meaning" of text messages to decipher what a person really feels. The only thing I can control is me, my actions and my feelings. If someone is interested in me, he'll be consistent with communication - but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll constantly call and text and hire a sky-writer and train carrier pigeons. My responsibility is to remember that my insecurities are mine to deal with, not to put on him and certainly can't be fixed by him calling and texting me every five minutes (I've had that in a relationship, it doesn't necessarily mean things are going well).
All the times I've driven myself crazy wondering why he hasn't called are pretty much time wasted. If he was going to call, he would have called and if he didn't, okay, fine, but all that time and energy checking the phone every five minutes (sort of like the movie He's Just Not That Into You; In fact, I completely identify with the character named Gigi) could be put into much more productive things, like reading, or learning to crochet, or practicing my backstroke. Okay, I probably won't take up competitive swimming, but the point I'm trying to make is this: instead of looking for proof, my time (and energy) would be better spent on myself... and if the phone happens to ring, I'll answer it.
Next time: Lost In Translation