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LOVE LETTERS

Call, waiting ...

Her cellphone-addicted boyfriend is driving her crazy - and in danger

By Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / September 3, 2011

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Q.My boyfriend is addicted to his cellphone. He is always texting or taking calls from his family and friends while we’re hanging out.

I only see him a few nights a week, but he says that if we spend a lot of time together I can’t expect him to just not respond to people. He’ll usually take one or two calls while we’re together and texts people. I tell him I think that it’s disrespectful and that it hurts my feelings. I also feel very unsafe when he texts while driving while I’m in the car. I offer to text for him and he always tells me that it’s fine and nothing will happen. I ask him how he’d like it if I was always on my phone. He says that he wouldn’t care.

He has also taken his phone out during dates to read articles. When I told him to put the phone away during one of these dates, he told me that he was bored and just wanted to read something.

It really bothers me because I believe that it comes down to respect. I feel ignored and that he’s putting my safety (while driving and texting) at risk. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone who would rather be talking to other people all the time.

Just to clear up: I’m not at all worried that he’s cheating. I can usually see his phone and know the person he is talking to.

Am I overreacting or is there a better way that I can deal with this? Please help!

TIRED OF CELLPHONES, Boston

A.You’re not overreacting. He’s putting you in danger by texting and driving, and beyond that, he’s being a jerk. It’s one thing to read an article on your phone during dinner. It’s another thing to tell your dining companion that you’re reading because you’re bored.

Your first task is to tell him your rules about car safety. You will not be his passenger unless he surrenders his phone before he gets behind the wheel. You can hold it in your lap while he drives. If he doesn’t agree, you don’t get in the car. That’s just how it has to be.

As for the rest of it, all it should take is one more talk. Bring up the phone stuff at the start of a date, before he starts texting and taking calls. Try this speech: “I don’t know if you realize how much you’re on the phone while we’re together. I know that I’ve made comments here and there about your phone habit, but I’d just like to be able to get through a few hours of one night without watching you check for messages and calls.’’ If his answer is, “Too bad’’ or “You’re overreacting,’’ you need to rethink this whole relationship. The cellphone thing might seem like a small part of your otherwise great partnership, but I’m not convinced. If he’s too stubborn to consider your feelings (and your safety), what kind of boyfriend/friend is he? Will he ever be able to put you first and apologize when necessary?

MEREDITH

READERS RESPOND:

If this is how he’s acting when you are young and carefree, can you imagine a future with him of struggling to gain his attention (or changing his colostomy bag for him because he’s permanently disabled from crashing into a tree while texting). Forget about the idea of him being disrespectful to you. Where’s your own self respect?!?

YIPPYSKIPPY

Call me passive aggressive (I 100 percent am), but when my ex used to do this, I would counter by taking out my phone and preoccupying myself for a solid five minutes after he was done texted/reading/calling. He would get irritated that I wasn’t paying him enough attention when he finally put his phone away and we resolved on phone-free zones such as the car and especially the bedroom.

HELLZBELLZ

I think it’s easier to change boyfriends than to change your boyfriend. Like it or not (and I’m on your side here), your boyfriend is mobile-obsessed. It sounds like he’d be better off with a girl who always has her nose in her smartphone, and you’d be better off with a guy who respects you.

MEGKJOYCE

I am married, and neither my husband nor myself text, talk, or otherwise consult our phones during dinner at home or at restaurants. We also put them away during dates. Its rude to ignore the person you’re with to talk to people you are not with at the moment, unless there is an emergency. I won’t even answer my phone if I’m having conversation with another person (unless I’m expecting a call and have already told the person this). It’s called valuing other peoples’ time. Your boyfriend doesn’t value your time. And while that may not seem like a deal breaker now, it will when your married, working full time, and taking care of children while he’s making sure his friends and family don’t feel neglected for five minutes.

IAMAPATRIOT

Sometimes life is very complex. In this case, it is not. GET. OUT. NOW. Otherwise in five years you will be running after your kids, cooking dinner, doing laundry, and wrapping his mother’s b-day present while he is watching ESPN reruns. Guy is a selfish stiff. Drop him.

SUPERCHICK

It sounds like a mismatch of expectations. Look, I’ve had girlfriends who got upset sometimes when I took a phone call or a text whenever I was with her. That behavior was totally unreasonable given the frequency and duration of time that I spent with her. I never did so when we were having an intimate moment or conflict. But there was part of her that expected attention on her all the time that I was with her. That was not reasonable.

SANITY123

I can’t believe the first thing Meredith addresses is that he is putting you in danger in the car. HE IS BORED ON DATES WITH YOU! HELLOOOOOO!!! What else do you need to know?!

BOSTONGAL109

If he’s bored on dates with you, dump him. The end. I can’t imagine anyone putting up with this at all. Boggles the mind.

MOONTRACK

Edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.