Reporting in or sharing your lives?

What is your preference for connection frequency once you begin to date a man regularly? Some people like daily chats, some think that is onerous. And when you do connect, what do you both want to hear and share?

I’ve been surprised when this issue is a bone of contention. I think most of us have the self-centric assumption that we’d share similar preferences with someone to whom we’re attracted. We may unfortunately eventually learn that attraction doesn’t necessarily mean similar values, preferences, or perspectives.

In a communication after a breakup, I learned that my request for daily connection had been perceived by my ex-beau as a requirement for him to “report in.” He was what I considered evasive and secretive about his activities when I really just wanted to have a sense of his life when we were apart. I explained to him that I perceived our daily contact as a chance to connect, not only by sharing what was happening in our lives, but taking it deeper by exploring our achievements, concerns, hopes and fears. He felt it was a requirement he report in and explain his whereabouts to me.

I think he had issues about this left over from his marriage. He’d told me that when he returned home from work his wife wanted to know what had happened during his day. His job was not particularly pleasant and he didn’t want to relive the odious things with which he’d had to deal. So even after being out of that job for over a decade, he had no desire to share a recap of his daily life with me.

(In all fairness, I can understand having someone want to know your every action. My late mother would sometimes call and want to know the details of my day, down to what I had for lunch. I realized this was her way of wanting to connect with me and she didn’t know how to take the conversation beyond the reporting-in level.)

One would think that this would be an easily resolved issue between two midlife people who have a desire to be together. But if you have opposite needs about this, it is a difficult one to resolve. And before this relationship, I wouldn’t have guessed it would be so difficult to find a middle ground. The problem wasn’t as much about contact frequency, as I would have been okay connecting every other day or so. But it was more the content of the communication that left me longing for connectedness. I felt it was like pulling teeth to hear about the highlight of his day, or important issues he faced, or even where he was. (He frequently stayed away from home overnight, he said at friends, but sometimes those friends were a 5-hour drive away and I had no idea he was gone.) He was so secretive I wondered if he was seeing one or more other women.

So if regular connection — not just a quick text message — is important to you, discuss this with your guy before getting too wrapped up in him. If he’s not willing to share conversation about his life, he’s probably not going to be willing to share his life with you.


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8 responses to “Reporting in or sharing your lives?”

  1. Deanna Avatar

    I can certainly understand that people have differing thresholds for connectedness and the ways that it is expressed. However, your ex seems to have been particularly secretive and defensive about his whereabouts. Grown men in their 40’s do not normally have “sleepovers” with other grown men (unless they are gay). If he was spending his nights away from his home, and secretive about it to boot, I’d bet the farm his “friends” were female. And he wasn’t sleeping on the couch. Men who are doing things they shouldn’t frequently complain about not wanting to “report in” to their partners. They’ll also say things like “you’re not my mother,” etc. Very immature responses, but it generally means they are hiding something (other women) they don’t want you to know about.

  2. Mike Avatar

    I went to your ask question part, but it didn’t work so you know. I have a question. How long into a relationship is it healthy to say I love you? Is it 2, 3, 6 months? I’m always told I’m doing it to early.

  3. LuckyatCards Avatar

    I am a man and I like daily contact. I sit in front of a computer during the day for my job, so I enjoy email. I like a not-too-long or sometimes long call in the evening, too.

    It’s nice to connect with someone you have feelings for. It’s not a report. I like hearing about her day. I like to tell her my stuff too.

    Of course, I have a lot of time to myself in the evenings. If I was busy running around a lot, it might be harder for me. Still, how hard is a 5 minute phone call just to say hi, how was your day, and good night? It’s nice.

  4. Sherri Avatar

    Enough flexibility should be present in the relationship for the communication frequency to vary. When I have something urgent to discuss with friends, we might talk every day for a week or so – then a few days go by with no contact. Or, don’t we all go through periods when we need more (or less) contact than at other times? In a healthy relationship, I don’t think rules or guidelines are really needed.

    The difficulty comes when the two individuals’ needs don’t mesh…(and since I’m currently single, I don’t have any words of wisdom!)

  5. Dr. Jenn Avatar

    This is a super point! This desire for daily connection is part of something larger I call “Comfort with Closeness.” That you noticed it’s hard to change is right on! Since this essentially becomes part of your personality due to your early childhood experiences, it really won’t change much. All you can really do is plead for someone to meet your needs and maybe they do for awhile, but it may never be comfortable, like for your ex. Your best bet? Make sure someone has similar needs for closeness, otherwise, it’s a lifetime of the painful classic: woman pursue, man withdraw. And don’t I know it! I once dated a man whose idea of connecting was calling once a week, when I was more like you, wanting once a day! I eventually trained him, like a year later, but it wasn’t much fun! Now, my husband calls to “check in” several times a day and I love it!

  6. Samantha Avatar

    The way I understand men is…I think it’s important to ask the guy how he sees things, how he wants it, and be willing to hear him without judgement. If what he has to say doesn’t meet your needs, don’t get too involved! All the more reason to not hop in bed too soon. It just seems like even if they ‘go along’ with what the woman wants, if he’s doing it because he feels pressured or an expectation, eventually he will push back. If he’s really in to it, he’ll be wanting to make you happy. I noticed the last guy I knew wasn’t in to the whole wanting to make me happy thing. I hope next time I don’t ignore all those red flags. I didn’t push him, I just mistakenly thought he wasn’t ready.

  7. Robert Avatar

    There is no pat answer. Everybody reacts differently. Some might perceive it as prying,or reporting, while others love it! I love the fact that my GF and I text during the day and at night talk about each others day. It makes for great conversation and communication.

  8. Samantha Avatar

    I should finish the thought on my post above… that guy I used to see started out like gang busters but somewhere along the way his feelings shifted from thinking about me as a long term prospect to me being on the back burner while he met other women….it got to the point where he told me he wasn’t a relationship guy… then one day he came over to say he wanted to think about being a relationship guy… then a week – 10 days later he denied ever saying that. Things really dwindled after that. He would still call but at some point he totally let go (it was obvious he wasn’t trying to even pretend he was trying) round about the last month I knew him. The guy STILL called me and wanted to see me, though. I told him that I would see him as a friend if he wanted, but that was all. I said I was starting to feel strange like I was just a booty call now. He called and ended it two days later and I found out he married someone else a month after this. I met him on eharmony. I learned a lot! If they’re interested they will put in the effort and they won’t make you guess. I’ve never encountered a ‘dog’ like that! And, he seemed so interested in me at first. I also have learned that men can easily make the shift from being exclusive with a woman to still seeing her but also seeing others (I actually read that one in an ‘understanding men’ book). It was a wonderful learning experience for me. I also think most men do not ‘act’ like he did.. and that I allowed it to happen mostly because I didn’t really know what he was capable of. I saw him as harmless, but he bit me. I think for me what will happen from now on is if a guy doesn’t seem all that in to it, I won’t hang in there with it too long.