Q: My boyfriend is addicted to his cell phone. 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.
This issue 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 Cell Phones, Boston
A: You're not overreacting, TOCP. 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 texing 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 cell phone 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?
Readers? How can she get him off of his phone? Thoughts on whether the phone thing is part of a bigger problem? How much should people check their phones while they're out with others? Could this be a dealbreaker? What should she do? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.