Sunday, March 26, 2023
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I told my boyfriend he doesn’t multitask people very well. He got quiet.

I know this sounds awful but I really didn’t think it was offensive. As the title says my boyfriend has an extremely hard time with giving people equal attention. If he’s not in the same space as you, You can maybe expect to hear from him every couple of months to twice a year.

We have been best friends since we were little and when he moved away for college I was still finishing my junior year. He called me on very rare occasions and most of the time it was while he was in the room with other people. I’d end up screaming because I couldn’t hear him or I’d just sit silently on the phone because he was participating in their banter rather than our phone call. When he came back home, the same thing happened to his college best friend. He just…doesn’t keep contact. He says he will but he never does.

After I started dating him, I also noticed he’d do the same thing when he’d leave for a trip. (He likes to travel) He will call and not give me much attention or he will most-likely not call me for 2 days feel bad and carve out a bit of time.

We have discussed and came to the conclusion that he just does this. He said he didn’t know why but it’s easy for him to forget even extremely close people if they aren’t there. I have come to accept this part of him because I still love him. And it was much less frustrating when I figured out it wasn’t personal.

He’s away right now and he called me apologizing that he was sorry he didn’t call me yesterday. I told him that was okay and I wasn’t expecting him to call anyway. He asked why and I jokingly said “you don’t multitask people well” He went quiet, and then he began to say something but he said never mind. When I asked him to explain he said the conversation was uncomfortable and he wasn’t mad he just didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

We are normally okay with things like this. Especially if he already knows he does it. If u had suddenly told him I didn’t like something of course it would catch him off guard. But we’d talked about it several times and he’s acknowledged its something he does and I have since calmed down a lot knowing he’s not trying to be like this. I thought it was okay to joke about a little. I don’t know how to go about apologizing because he said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore but I feel bad.

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  1. Does he have adhd? I do and object permanence is a huge issue for me and that also spills over into friendships. If something is put away or if someone isn’t in my view I tend to just not notice that thing or person is missing or gone. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about it. It’s just the way my brain is wired. If I leave my keys on the table and my wife moves them to a different location then I have essentially lost my keys. Same with people. My best friend is away in a different state for work and we talk like once a month now because he isn’t directly in front of me anymore…

  2. My husband doesn’t multi-task well either, some people can, some can’t.

    Maybe when he is gone, you can set up a system of he calls at a certain time (he can set up an alert on his phone), instead of just hoping to remember.

  3. I mean…. You stated a fact. I don’t see a reason to apologize.

    I am curious why HE has to be the one to reach out to you? And you didn’t reach out to him yesterday?

    Communication is both peoples responsibility

  4. >I told him that was okay and I wasn’t expecting him to call anyway.

    >He asked why and I jokingly said “you don’t multitask people well”

    >He went quiet, and then he began to say something but he said never mind.

    I mean, you told the truth but I’m wondering if what you said sounded more passive aggressive, even trying to joke afterward wouldn’t really make it better.
    Since he called and say sorry first and you likely cut him offguard with your comment even if true.

    >I don’t know how to go about apologizing because he said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore but I feel bad.

    Do you think you should apologize for it through?

    If him forgetting you when he’s away bother you, don’t joke about it, just talk seriously about how you feel, it won’t get better with time so be honest and don’t apologize for telling the truth even if you should have communicated it in a serious and direct manner.
    If you’re really used to it and it doesn’t bother you, then tell him “listen, I think you took my joke as a critic but I was really joking, I don’t mind that you’re not good at keeping contact when away.”
    That being said, I kinda feel like it does bother you and the comment + joke may have been a jab at him that you tried to lighten up afterwards, I may be wrong but that’s my feeling, and in that case, why are you just not honest about something with bother you?

  5. I’m guessing he was probably just caught off guard by the negative focus.

    He actually called you on his own initiative for a change, apologised for not doing it the day before, and you immediately focused on something negative (i.e. that you didn’t expect him to call) instead of expressing that you were happy to hear from him.

    Even if that’s not how the joke was meant, it probably was how he took it. Aside from that, it could also be that you just hit a bit of a nerve with your joke. If this is something which has previously caused problems in your relationship and which he has been under the impression that you hashed out, your joke might have sparked some insecurity in him and made him worry that you haven’t really come to terms with it the way you say you have.

    Based on your comments so far, it sounds like you already explained that it was meant as a joke and that the conversation moved on from there. I don’t see why you think it should be necessary to bring it up again after that, especially if he said he doesn’t want to talk about it any further.

  6. Im guessing that he didn’t get quiet because he was caught off guard, but because your comment sounded a bit passive aggressive. Maybe he wasn’t sure if you were joking or not and he didn’t know how to respond.

    Im not sure if that is the reason, but it could be.

    Or maybe he was annoyed? This can be the reason if you often make comments like that. Maybe he didn’t want to have a discussion over the phone?

    I feel like you should definitely address this issue when he gets back from his trip! You can ask him if you said something wrong. I feel like you should also talk about this whole situation – him not being able to multitask people. See if there are things that both of you can do to make this situation better. It honestly sounds like this will cause problems and misunderstandings in the future. I feel like your rightfully frustrated, so it’s best to find a solution together before it gets worse.

  7. Is he on the spectrum or neurodivergent? Some neurodivergent people have an issue with object permanence involving people. If you aren’t in front of them, they sort of forget you exist. Like anything else, they developed “workarounds” that might involve reminders to call on their phone or marking emails/texts as unread if they can’t respond immediately, etc.

  8. It’s not very encouraging to say this to him after he took the initiative to actually call, especially if he only missed one day! Do you respond well to this sort of negative feedback?

  9. Why do you feel the need to apologize, though?


    My ex was kind of like this, and my mother used to be a lot like this. Like just don’t call me if you aren’t in a place where you can talk, or if you don’t have the time?


    What I did with my mother was I would try to get her attention and then say “call me when you can talk” or just hang up. It took a while, but she only does this a few times a year at the most, now. It’s so annoying!

    It’s such a little thing, either way, too. There will always be people who think it’s no big deal to do it, my response is that it’s also no big deal to NOT do it.




    Apologies are for when you’ve hurt someone or their feelings. If his feelings are hurt by you being able to adapt to this annoying little habit, I’d point out that the issue is not only NOT about the phone, but it’s also nowhere near resolved.


    For that, I’d say that you two need to talk more, and not about apologies. It’s fine to say that you’re sorry that he didn’t like how it feels to have something pointed out that he doesn’t like about himself, but if it’s important for him to feel like he’s good at multi-tasking people, then he needs to actually be better at doing it.


    And if he can’t handle the mirror, maybe you need to start realizing that this issue will show up again in more important contexts as time goes on.

  10. You don’t owe him an apology. Not only can’t he multi-task, he’s just plain rude. You’ve explained how this is annoying etc. & he still does it. This is something I’d be going to counseling over.

  11. If this upset him, then he should change lol other commentators have said to set alarms, etc but if someone is important to you, you shouldn’t need an alarm to remember to talk to them.

    Even with possibly having adhd or anything else, there are ways to help YOURSELF remember.

    Yes you could reach out first but I’m sure that gets tiring as well. I’m also sure you already do that.

  12. You don’t sound particularly fun to talk to. My try harder? Spice up the convo. Maybe flirt. Somethings got to get the mans attention. But if my wife tried to micro manage my attention she definitely would get less.

  13. I would say the same thing, because I say shit like this. It makes them feel weird and stuff but there is no reason to apologize because you both agree. He needs to do better since texting is not working. Tell him you need time just for you and him, since first of all he’s traveling a lot, you see him once in awhile I’m assuming, and the fact that you’re someone who seems like they need that quality time. And there is nothing wrong about needing and communicating that. If he truly cares he would put on alarms and attempt at texting more, you should be excited to hear from your boyfriend. If not, you need to end the relationship because your needs are not being met.

  14. Does your bf maybe have ADHD? Its not even a question lol, it’s a statement. He has issues with object permanence. Not his fault, and even if he’d try with every fiber of his being, it won’t change.

  15. My boyfriend does the exact same thing, he’s had 4 concussions in his life so he’s very forgetful. It’s something that I had to learn to be patient with and understanding of. Me and my boyfriend came to the conclusion that if something bothers us we talk it out, maybe not immediately but when we’re both ready. Maybe give him some time and then explain to him how much it matters to you that you apologize, I would assume he would understand that

  16. I’m like your bf, I do the same, and I sometimes wonder why I do it.

    Like if someone isn’t around me every day, I don’t try to contact them unless I need something, or need to tell them something. I don’t contact people just to talk.

    I have always been like that. The only person I talk to daily is my husband, but our son, my siblings, my mom, his parents, any friends, I don’t call or message without a reason to.

    Everyone knows this about me, and accept it.

    I went to Florida for my sisters funeral recently, if it wasn’t for my husband calling me several times a day the week I was gone, I wouldn’t have called him but one time a day at most.

    I think your bf got quiet, because he is wondering if this is actually something that will end up ruining the relationship, or if he is just tired of hearing about a failing he has

    My therapist said it could be my anxiety that causes me to be this way, because I have social anxiety disorder, or the simple fact that my family made me feel unwanted, and left out unless they needed something, so now I just try to stay out of peoples way and lives so I won’t be a burden.

    Idk if your bf had issues growing up or not.

  17. If he said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore, you can let him know that *you* want to talk about it and clear it up, so ask if he is willing to compromise and talk with you about it at a later time. Let him know that it’s important to you to better understand his feelings.

    If there’s a rift or wound in the relationship, it *needs* to be addressed, regardless of how uncomfortable the conversation will be. Truth is, relationships are full of uncomfortable conversations, because it’s two (or, I guess if you’re poly, more than two) very different people navigating something together. These conversations help you learn about each other and help mend wounds.

    And avoidance of these difficult conversations can lead to resentment.

  18. My bf is the same and I sometimes joke about it. He doesn’t mind. I know I’ll be the one texting or calling because it is who he is. I am surprised however that your bf took it this way as apparently he knows about it. Maybe you brought it up not long before? Maybe someone else told him about it not long ago too so he feels attacked? Or maybe the fact that he apologised and you just “laughed” at him made him extra insecure. In any case, tell him next time you talk in the most normal way that you love him and didn’t mean to hurt him. See if he is willing to do something about it or wants you to drop it.

  19. I think when you bring it to his attention, he feels terrible and wants to do better. Him calling and apologizing shows that he’s making an effort. Maybe he was hoping you’d recognize his attempt rather than have a perceived critical response.

    I’m not saying you said anything wrong. You didn’t. But I do think he cares for you greatly and wants to do better and for you to feel better.

  20. I’ll avoid the semantics of what multi-tasking is and whether it’s something that people can or can’t do well.

    Based on how you’re phrasing it, I’ll admit I’m not the best at it either. I do try very hard, but it’s not easy. My mind goes a mile a minute and I get distracted by what I believe I’m supposed to do rather than doing what I’m actually supposed to be doing. Usually I get it right, but sometimes I miss the mark.

    My wife calls me out on it from time to time. She knows it’s not easy for me, but that it’s necessary to tell me.

    However, she’s good at saying it in a way without judgement. Rather just to offer correction.

    Maybe let him know you didn’t mean it harshly. And apologize to him — tell him you didn’t mean to hit a sensitive spot. You’ll be patient with him if he puts in more effort, and remind him too that you know that he is capable of if.

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