A Friend Who Only Communicates Via Text

A Friend Who Only Communicates Via Text

This month’s column may resonate with many, whether you have been offended by a texting-only friend, or you prefer texting to calling or connecting in person.  Readers, we would love to hear your perspective in the comments below!

Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

 

Dear Nina,

My friend, Sloane, just texts—no calls, no visits. Only texts. And even though we have ongoing texts every 2-3 days, she’s not up for talking on the phone. I’m starting to feel what a numbing situation that is. To me it’s very impersonal to communicate solely through a screen. I’ve asked to call on the phone, but I can tell she’s not crazy about the idea, and when we do talk, I end up leading the conversation because otherwise there’d be silence.

Here’s a bit more about our situation. Sloane and I live two hours apart. I’m in chronic pain, and I’m dealing with very intense things, but Sloane sometimes uses the excuse she’s “busy” as if her life has so much more going on. I mean, we ALL have our stuff right? I have been up to see her 2-3 times in the past four years we’ve known each other. (I’ve been quite ill as well.) But she’s never made any effort to come see me, and she even got offended when I asked her a couple years ago if she would consider a visit.

So I have a friend who makes no effort to visit, no effort to call, and wants a virtual screen-to-screen relationship, yet wants to call it a friendship? To me acquaintances text, but friends text/call/visit. I’ve thought about reframing the friendship as perhaps (oddly enough and heaven forbid) it’s too much to expect/want a call every now and then or once a week, just to have actual voice-to-voice connection. Oh and when I have said, “Do you fancy a quick call?” she mysteriously never sees the text and quite frankly I don’t believe her because she’s always active on messenger and she’s one of those people that updates her Facebook page with every thought, picture, and bowel movement.

When I have expressed my frustration at limiting our friendship to texts, she did say she’s not comfortable on the phone. She also threw out very trivial things at me, which was her basically clutching at straws in order to defend herself. But I did say to her maybe I need to see the friendship differently (as in reframe it and/or see what I’m expecting) and now she’s had a hissy fit and says she doesn’t need this and her other friends are fine with just texting. But hey guess what, I’m not (anymore). So maybe my expectations have changed?

Can you help?

Kind Regards,

Texting Isn’t Enough

Dear Texting Isn’t Enough,

You have the right to change your expectations in any relationship and Sloane, in this case, has the right not to meet those expectations. This means the ball is now in your court to decide if going back to the previous expectations sits well with you. From your letter it’s clear to me that you’re not happy with those terms of “texting only” and no visits.

I have to say that from where I sit, this friendship is not a solid one. I can’t imagine that Sloane sees it as a crucial one in her life. A real friend shows up when her friend is sick, if not with a visit, then at least with a call. In fairness to Sloane, she has been completely honest with you that she is not up for that type of friendship. She has not tried to convince you otherwise. The fact that you continue to demand something of her that she cannot or will not give is on you at this point.

To say it more directly: Sloane is not really your friend. My advice is to fade out of the relationship, which means no big confrontation is necessary. You can stop putting any energy into texting Sloane and she will quickly get the idea and maybe even feel a bit relieved. Then you can put your energy into people who are looking for the same kind of off-screen friendship that you understandably want and deserve. It’s not easy to get out of any cycle, even dysfunctional ones, but it’s time.

Not surprisingly my mom, Kathy, has similar advice but here she is in her own words: “This may be a generational thing, but I don’t text unless it is about making an arrangement, changing a previously agreed upon time for getting together, or saying I am stuck in traffic. Having said that, what is more disturbing to me is that Sloane has made no attempt to visit her sick friend, since she is “uncomfortable” on the phone. It sounds to me like Sloane is not interested in the friendship. I would suggest that the letter writer put her energy into someone who is more interested in a reciprocal relationship. It is clear that if Sloane is having problems of her own, she is not interested in sharing her issues. If it were me, I would let this relationship go.”

I’m so sorry you’re going through a tough time with your health. You definitely need understanding and giving friends right now.

Best of luck,

Nina

**We will be taking August off, and will resume our HerTake column in September! Send Nina your questions with our form below.

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5 comments

  1. Susan Berger says:

    Your response is on target. It’s likely that this person just isn’t that into the friendship.

    I will say though, that texting only may mean hearing loss. Perhaps this person isn’t comfortable on the phone because she can’t hear so well, can’t respond appropriately and is uncomfortable making her disability known. Perhaps she doesn’t know which resources are out there that can assist her technologically with speaking on the phone and hearing better.

    That said, even if this doesn’t apply to her, I think we need to be aware that some disabilities are invisible and it behooves us to rules things out before we make ultimate judgements.

  2. If I got rid of every friendship that was text-only, I could count the number of friends on one hand. It’s not a bad thing, I suppose, as I’ve always only had a small group of close friends. I didn’t grow up with technology so it’s an odd way to communicate and “connect”, in my opinion. I have no answers. I am not happy with the text-only relationships but I do believe it’s a mixture (at least with the people I know) of age, preference, social anxiety… A lot of other things. I’m not sure cutting someone out of your life is the answer but it all depends on the relationship and people involved.
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  3. Gail Freedman says:

    I only have Texting-Only relationships with those out of state/country. I agree with your mom. It is for setting things up, changing plans, lateness, etc. I groove on face to face, and those that aren’t willing have values too far from my own. Best wishes on your upcoming Simcha!!

  4. I’ve had this situation with a couple of friends so I was very happy to see you address it; you and your mom gave excellent advice. Like “Texting is not enough,” I’m not a fan of text-only, and I think that part of the problem, as you said, is that mismatch. If both “Texting is not enough” and Sloane are both happy with the way things are, then that would probably/could possibly work — I actually have quite a few friends who have many messenger/texting friendships (writers who met online). But since both are not happy not true, I’d be inclined to agree that Sloane isn’t that vested. Sigh.

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