WEDNESDAY, May 13 — Q: I’ve been dating this guy long distance for six months. He’ll often fail to return texts for an entire day or even a few days. I keep breaking up with him, but he keeps apologizing, acknowledging that he can be “distracted” and then offering convincing excuses or making me feel I’m overreacting. This is getting old.
A: Is there some crater somewhere where all his promises go to die?
There is sometimes a good reason your boyfriend can’t return your text for days, like that it’s 790 B.C. and there’s a snowstorm and he’s sending his eunuch with the bum knee over the Alps with a set of stone tablets. When there is no good reason, his acknowledging an error, like by admitting to being “distracted,” is a first step in mending his ways. That is, except when he shows you — repeatedly — that it’s his only step (perhaps because it’s tricky to text you back when his other, more local girlfriend is sitting right next to him).
Getting somebody to respect your boundaries starts with appearing to have them. Sure, there are sometimes allowances to be made, like for an all-nighter at work or illness. As a friend of mine once wrote: “Sorry I didn’t respond to your email; I was in a coma.” But a man who cares about you generally acts in ways reflecting that — like by dashing off a text to tell you “sleepy - w/write u in am” or