“Better to put your heart on the line, risk everything, and walk away with nothing than play it safe. Love is a lot of things, but “safe” isn’t one of them.”
~ Mandy Hale
We have all been there. Waiting for the phone call. Hoping he will call to say he's been thinking of you, or to follow up on a conversation or ask you out.
But the phone doesn't ring, or least it doesn't ring when you expect it to.
So you wait and wait, putting other things on hold (time with friends, work, self-care etc.) in hopes you'll connect and have a date for the weekend. You become more and more anxious and make up things in your head about the situation.
The problem with this is you are waiting, expecting, hoping and assuming.
Most of the time hoping is a good thing. When it has to do with your life, your work and your dreams. Even having hope that you will find the "right" partner and the "perfect" match is a good thing.
Hope keeps us feeling alive and helps us to keep going when we are down, and when nothing seems possible. Hope drives us to new heights.
But, hoping that others will be a certain way or will change is a disaster waiting to happen.
Let me explain what I mean.
People are who they are. They are going about their lives, just like you are, doing the best they can. Right or wrong a person is showing themselves at the capacity and level of emotional
maturity that is comfortable for them. You alone can't make someone push themselves outside their comfort zone.
A change in behavior requires a willingness to go outside one's comfort zone.
So what I am going to ask you to do is go outside YOUR comfort zone. Go outside your comfort zone when he doesn't call when he says he will.
Here are specific ways to do so and feel empowered in the process.
1. Tolerate discomfort
Recognize that when you feel uncomfortable you are growing. When you feel uncomfortable you are stretching yourself just a little bit more. When you feel uncomfortable you are allowing yourself to gain more than you will lose.
I'm speaking of the type of discomfort when the little voice in your head (your rational mind) says, "I need to do this and not do what I'd normally do." The type of discomfort that says, "I'll be better off if I don't do what I feel like doing and do something else instead."
The "Do Something Else Instead" is:
Tolerate discomfort. Take a pause and breathe. Breathe as many times as you need to. Count backwards from twenty. Call a friend. Walk away from the phone. Put your phone in another room or turn it on silent. Allow yourself to feel something other than the feeling of dread. Allow yourself to move towards peace instead.
2. Letting go of expectations
Whenever we have expectations we set ourselves up for disappointment. Expectations, especially when they are unrealistic, keep us hooked to our emotions and tied to events outside us. Happiness is then something that comes from the outside not inside us.
The next time he doesn't call think about whether you were expecting it - expecting a call, expecting a date, expecting a whatever for that matter. Instead, see it for what it is and accept it at face value.
Say to yourself, "The phone didn't ring, but I'm OK." (Of course you are OK. You are more than OK.)
3. Avoid assumptions
In Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), "cognitive distortions are simple ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn't true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions - telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves." (John M. Grohol, Psy.D.)
One cognitive distortion is "jumping to conclusions." When you think something has happened without evidence that it has. An example of this is that if he hasn't called that he must be disinterested or out with someone else.
Next time you are faced with this situation, pay attention to whether you are jumping to conclusions or making an assumption about how the other person feels about you and whether he wants to spend time with you or not.
4. Putting your life on hold
When we are waiting for something to happen, whether it's a commitment, a relationship, a job offer or happiness, we are essentially putting our life on hold. We are waiting for something or someone to be the key to our own happiness.
Stop doing this. Stop waiting and start living. It's your life and it's in your hands.
5. Practice self-acceptance
Our need for approval often stems from childhood wounds or unmet childhood needs.
A phone call, text, a get-together can temporarily validate this need for approval.
You might be unconsciously saying things to yourself like, "I am worthy because he called." "I am worthy because he's showing interest."
Instead, begin to repeat this out loud. "I Am Worthy." "I Am Worthy." "I Am Worthy."
Next time the phone doesn't ring, remind yourself that hoping, expecting and assuming only keeps you in a negative cycle and reinforces your unhealthy thoughts and emotions. Instead, step back, accept what is and go outside your comfort zone. Make a choice to be happy. Don't waist your time. Enjoy those precious moments that you will not get back.
Kavita A. Hatten, MS, LPC, NCC- www.phoenixcounseling.net
And doing nothing might be the hardest thing we could possibly attempt to do.
He didn’t call when he said he would. What is it about that truth that gets us so frustrated and upset? It has nothing to do with him and everything to do with us. And that’s exactly where we should leave it, in our laps. What emotions do we feel when a man doesn’t show up, even for something like a phone call?
Often if we sit with our feelings and have the courage to take an honest, inner journey, we will discover the real reasons we are so hurt.
For some of us we might feel disappointed (go deeper). Then ignored (go deeper). Then devalued (go deeper). Then not worthy (go deeper). And finally not lovable. Ahhh! These moments are wonderful opportunities to learn about ourselves and bring light to where in our past we felt unlovable. And when we bring it into our consciousness, we then can rewrite that old story our child brain created and heal.
Is it okay that he didn’t call when he said he would?
Is he a bad person because he didn’t call?
That is a no, too. If the man does call at another time, it offers us an opportunity to open up to the man vulnerably and honestly. We get to let him know we value someone who follows through with his word and that kind of consistency makes us feel incredibly safe, almost as safe as when a man’s strong arms are wrapped around us.
If he listens and steps up, great! If not, then bye bye - he was good practice for us asking for what we want and sharing how we expect to be treated. The more we practice this, the easier it will become to be to share our truth with consistent honesty and vulnerability. And men fall in love with women with those qualities.
But what if we just can’t get past the upset that he didn’t call?
Sometimes we expect men to respect and maintain our dating and relationship boundaries when we don’t do so ourselves. We want them to change and mold to our needs. We cling to an almost good enough guy because deep down we either believe he’s our last chance at love or we aren’t worthy of someone better. But the only person we can change is ourselves.
The only boundaries we can enforce are our own.
If a man that flakes calling isn’t ok, then he’s simply not the One. We should be grateful he revealed such an incompatible trait so early to us and move on. Yet, If we don’t accept his truth or can’t let him go, we create our own suffering and turmoil because we are not in alignment with our inner truth.
So the next time a man doesn’t call when he said he would, we simply say thank you for the lesson and let him go. Once we do that, we make space for other men who will honor our boundaries to step up and into our lives.
Kate Houston, Love Coach - www.fabulousandfearlessover40.com
Most of us have gone through the agony of not receiving an expected call from a date or lover. On edge, we’re uncertain about what to say or do and anxiety floods our bodies. Unfortunately, this is just about the worst emotional state to be for developing a beneficial response. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have any options. We do.
#1. Calm down
When we’re emotionally dysregulated, we need to re-regulate so that we can make a decision about what to do that will be in our long-term best interest. Our emotional reaction is likely to be just the opposite—done to relieve our angst and release the tension that is filling our minds and bodies. Calming down make take a bit of doing. It means having emotional re-regulation as a goal and reminding yourself that you will not be making any decisions until you have a cool head.
#2. Brainstorm multiple meanings
The meaning we make of others’ behavior is crucial to how we decide to react to them. Our typical response to a date or lover not calling might well be that this person doesn’t care about or have any interest in us. Hurt, we may become very angry and want to hurt someone back. In fact, this may be the case, but we can’t know that this is true from the information we currently have, that is, the absence of the call. What we can do is to brainstorm other legitimate possibilities for someone not calling: losing our phone number or dealing with a dead phone, trying to slow things down a bit, being busy, not wanting to come on too strong, being ill, a miscommunication, etc. Brainstorming helps us realize that our first thought (all is lost!) may not, in fact, be the case.
One of my favorite and highly instructive (and sad) scenes is in a movie whose title I don’t recall starring a young Drew Barrymore. She has not chosen men who’ve stuck around before, but this time, her current lover seems like a keeper. And then she doesn’t hear from him and she’s distraught assuming that he, too, doesn’t want her. At the end of the movie, we see him, a spelunker, dead in a cave with (if I’m recalling correctly) a photo of her or a note to her lying beside him. He did love her after all! Obviously, most of the time that dates or lovers don’t call, they are not deceased, but this scene proves that truly anything can happen.
#3. Be choosy about talking with friends and family
Sharing our worries and woe with friends or family can be a plus or a minus. It depends on who we talk to. Most of the time that we call intimates, it’s for reassurance and, if they’re not honest, they may tell us what we wish to hear when deep down they believe that our special someone has done a disappearing act. Remember, intimates are likely to feel as helpless as you do and want you both to feel better. Make sure that you’re calling a rational, mentally person to share your feelings with or get advice from. Think of their dating or mating history and the decisions they usually make. If they always shoot from the hip and it drives people away or generally act like a push-over, you probably don’t want to listen to their take on the situation.
#4. Be patient and sensible
Often we have a timeline in our heads and are impatient for the call from our date or lover to come sooner rather than later. And then our fantasies of what went wrong are off and running. Give the situation time. Sleep on your thoughts before taking action on them. You may be hurt or even devastated, but remind yourself that not hearing from someone does not herald the end of the world. There are other dates and lovers.
#5. Be appropriate
The last thing you want to do is blast someone a text or an email that is rude or shows you in a negative light. If you sense that someone will not be calling, you might decide to let it go and move on. Or, you might want to write down your questions and sentiments and, after some time, share them with this person in an appropriate way. It’s fine to want to know what’s going on so that you can decide whether what someone did is okay or not. It’s not fine to get on someone’s case in such a way that makes you sound impatient, entitled or childish.
There is no right or wrong way to approach a no-call situation. Sometimes it’s a judgment call. If you’re going to contact someone, do it with calmness. Ask questions and wait for responses. If you don’t care for the responses, that is excellent information about the person and the relationship. If someone repeatedly doesn’t call as expected, that’s called a pattern and says that this someone is not a person you want to pursue or be pursued by.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
This is an all to common situation that has been occurring for many years.
I would think that most if not all of us have at some point in time sat and waited for a guy to call because he said he would, then he didn’t. It can be a very confusing feeling none the less frustrating.
When this happens, it’s important to take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that it has nothing to do with you.
Whether he intentionally didn’t call or just happened to forget, bottom line, he chose not to call.
One possible scenario is that he didn’t make you his priority. It would be in your highest good not to call him and ask why he didn’t call. In fact, the last thing you want to do is be a drama queen.
As crazy as it seems, if you ignore him and not care, or at least appear that you are not interested, he will seem interested in you.
Be yourself, however, you don’t have to be at his beck and call. Let him work for you.
You are worth it. You have to be that mysterious and challenging woman instead of a needy, desperate soul. He will drop you quickly as men don’t like this.
Continue to live your own independent life and when you do date, take your time before you become involved sexually.
Don’t always be there for him. I know this may sound gamey, and it works. You are more appealing when you are the challenge. If you are always available, he will never feel a desire for you.
More than anything, be yourself.
He will pick up on the fact if you are not. Be natural, relaxed and friendly. If he doesn’t call you and he said he would, give him one benefit of the doubt. If it happens again, be done with him, he’s not worth your time and energy.
There are plenty of guys out there who will be interested and they will call you when they say and you will have much less aggravation from the start.
Connie Clancy Fisher, ED.D. – www.drconstance.com
I think we’ve all heard ad nauseum the phrase, “He’s just not that into you”.
Unfortunately, this phrase can be very accurate. If he says he will call and doesn’t, that’s a fairly likely explanation. Exceptions would be death or a coma.
Of course this is the extreme.
In an on-going relationship, people can get busy and forget to call. However, if it’s chronic, it’s pretty rude and maybe indicative of a character flaw that you shouldn’t have to deal with.
When small incidents that indicate a lack of personal integrity or just common courtesy begin to occur regularly, you are in for a relationship filled with anxiety.
You will always wonder how his incivility reflects on his feelings for you. In short, you won’t be able to trust him. You will probably find yourself overfunctioning either by making excuses or pursuing him because you don’t trust that he really wants you.
MY advice is to not go there.
People usually let you know pretty quickly who they are and how they manage themselves in a relationship. The problem for women is that we tend to make excuses, not wanting to face the reality of his deficits (his deficits, not yours!). You really deserve better than that.
If he doesn’t call when he says he will; if he’s always late; if you feel that you are at the bottom of his priorities, forget him. You can do better.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
You start to sweat. You start to question.
Am I expecting too much? Is he giving too little? (Your heart starts racing…) Is this a statement about our relationship? (Panic growing…) What if he doesn’t care!?!?!? What if it’s over!?!?!? (Here come the tears…) And then…
You hear his ringtone. Your whole body calms down instantly.
Does this feel familiar? Are you ready to trade it for something else?
The first thing you need to do is to quiet your body and get back in “your right mind.”
When your body starts firing adrenaline and cortisol because you’re worrying, your thinking brain literally goes offline.
That is the last thing you need at a time like this! STOP! Put your hands behind your head, lean back and BREATHE! (Or use one of the other techniques demonstrated at the link above.) Once you get your brain back, you’re ready to respond instead of reacting.
If this is a one-off, it serves no one for you to jump to conclusions. Keep reminding yourself that you have no idea what’s going on until you find out. Stop the racing thoughts with the techniques mentioned above. Occupy yourself with your own life and your own interests. This gives you a better experience in the moment and also gives you more to share when you do get together. (For more on this, watch this brief video from someone in a successful, long term marriage: https://www.facebook.com/JayShettyIW/videos/1970698836577905/)
If this is a repeated pattern in your relationship, it’s time to get curious at why it’s happening.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you actually agree on how much contact is acceptable to both of you? Was he giving to the point of resentment? It may be time to become more honest about each other’s expectations.
- Is it possible that you two have miscommunicated on what’s expected? Clarify first, and then decide if this is something that needs to be addressed.
- Do his actions usually line up with his words? We say what we want to be true but we do what is actually true. Always read a person’s actions as the more candid truth, (including your own!)
- Does he have ADHD or some other sort of Executive Function challenge? If so, his lack of attention in this moment honestly doesn’t mean the same thing as it would coming from someone without that kind of wildly creative mind. It’s up to you to discern if you can healthfully be in relationship with someone who’s attention is unpredictable. ADHD can confound relationships, but it can also make things uniquely good.
It’s always a good idea to put your emotional engine in neutral, center yourself, and then ask yourself what all of the possibilities might be. Make no assumptions. Assuming the worst almost always leads to unnecessary drama and pain. Considering an array of possibilities helps to calm the chemical firings of anxiety, as our assessments of situations are what determine our emotions. If the worst happens to be true, you will want to be in a rational state of mind in order to decide on your best response.
It would be a really good idea to refuse to take the situation personally. If not calling you when he says he will is one of your “must haves” in a relationship, unless there is some extenuating circumstance, he has demonstrated to you that your terms for relationship are incompatible. Thank him for showing this to you and wish him well as you say goodbye.
If there are extenuating circumstances, you will need to decide if your priorities are compatible with his. They might be. They might not be. If, on the other hand, you two haven’t been clear with one another about expectations, that’s a conversation you need to have. Either way, this is not about you.
- Put your emotional engine in neutral
- Invest in your own time and interests
- Get curious before you get accusatory
- Be clear about your boundaries (what is and isn’t ok with you in relationship)
- Be willing to walk away if his terms for relationship are incompatible with yours
- Be ready to hear him objectively and understand his choices
- And as always… DO WHAT’S HEALtHIEST FOR YOU!
Tiffany L. Craig, MS, LCPC - www.mypeace.co
If he says he’ll call and doesn’t or he says he’ll meet you and doesn’t, that’s out of your hands. The only control you do have is to do your homework by getting to know the person you are dating and determining his integrity, sense of responsibility and trustworthiness.
You CAN try to follow-up with him, though, to find out what happened.
In other words, you can put him on the spot to explain the circumstances behind his inconsiderateness and thoughtlessness. After all, you’re not sitting around waiting for him – and he needs to know that.
Your time is very precious and you don’t want to waste it obsessing over someone who doesn’t value you as much as you deserve.
So, when a guy does this to you, you need to ask yourself a few questions : Do I deserve to be treated this way? Should I be hanging around with someone who is not respectful or responsible? The answers lie in whether you know that there’s someone better out there who will be more considerate of your feelings and time.
Basically, you are acknowledging your self-worth and personal regard and asserting that you are not desperate or willing to be treated badly by any one for any reason. You are stating that you want to be respected and honored and above all, cherished by a guy who holds you in high esteem and opinion.
The next time a guy doesn’t call, don’t fret.
He is probably someone you didn’t want to be with anyway, because if he’s truly into you, he wouldn’t be treating you that way.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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