April 11 2016 05:15 PM

Advice on what to do when he doesn't text back

Photo by sea turtle/Flickr

I'm a woman in my 20s, and female friends and I find that, generally speaking, once a guy gets into a relationship, his texting dwindles into brief news bites, like "fell asleep!" or "phone died." Why do men seem to lose interest in chatting by text like I do with my girlfriends? Are men just less feeling than women?

—Annoyed


Who says men aren't emotional? "I don't wanna talk about it!" is an emotion.

But actually, the male brain is not the emotional dead zone many women suspect it to be, with a few tumbleweeds and a Doritos bag blowing through in place of feelings. In fact, neuroscientist Tor Wager reviewed 65 brain imaging studies and found that men's brains aren't any less responsive to emotional stimuli than women's.

However, women do tend to be more emotionally expressive. This difference makes sense, as women evolved to be the caregivers of the species—tending to the needs of babies (who typically require a more nurturing response than "Bring it, bro!"). Men, on the other hand, evolved to be the warriors of the species—competing for the alpha dog spot by clubbing a rhino or the most hombres from another tribe. This has had an effect on how men express themselves. As sex differences researcher Joyce Benenson explains, when you're a warrior, revealing your feelings—like having a good cry on the battlefield—puts you at a disadvantage. (Kind of like going out in a T-shirt with a big arrow and "Your spear here!")

Conversationally, where men and woman differ is in why they talk and what they talk about. Linguist Deborah Tannen describes male versus female styles of communication as "report" versus "rapport." In short, while women use conversation (including texting) as a form of bonding, for men, it's a tool. And just like other tools, men use it as needed. As my boyfriend put it, "you bring out the wrench when you have a loose nut; you don't go around looking for nuts to fasten. Also, afterward, you put the wrench away; there's no 'Let's us boys get together and explore how we feel about wrenches.'"

This explains why many guys text more in the chase phase, when they need to "talk chick," to a degree, to reel you in. Once they have you, they fall back to what's more natural for them—texting merely to say stuff like "late!" or "w/get wine" (the SMS form of grunting). But this should simply be seen as a different style of communicating, not a deficient one. You judge whether a man cares about you by the sum of his actions, not by his pointer finger action. And besides, if you demand that he text you like a woman, he's within his rights to expect you to act like a man—by carrying his luggage like a pack mule while he totters behind you in heels or by chasing a mugger while he stands on the corner crying softly and hoping you'll come out of it alive.



(c)2016, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon

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