Dear Margo: He Cannot Sell Her on the Cell

Why won’t my girlfriend use her cell phone? Margo Howard’s advice

He Cannot Sell Her on the Cell

Dear Margo: I’m writing to complain about my girlfriend and her use of the cell phone. But this is not what you think. Her daughter and I are frustrated because she doesn’t use her cell phone! She buries her phone in her purse and never thinks about it when home at night. I can’t tell you the number of evenings I’ve wanted to share some tidbit of my day, only to get voice mail. The disappointment isn’t worth it, and I’ve pretty much given up calling her at night.

It doesn’t stop there. Her daughter and I have equal frustration with text messaging. For example, when out at the mall, it is really convenient to shoot a quick text like: “@nordys meet me in shoes 5min.” But as you can guess, she never checks her phone, so this means we spend 30 minutes wandering through the mall trying to find her.

I know it is popular to rage about how rude people are with cell phones. While I’m not suggesting taking calls during dinner, there are two sides to every story. Her attitude seems to be that cell phones and text messages are silly gadgets and mature adults don’t use them. What do you think: Do we have a right to complain? — Dating a Dinosaur

Dear Date: Your bum luck, you have written about your predicament to another dinosaur! I forget to turn my phone on, for two years I didn’t even know its number, and I needed “tutoring” on how to text in order to be in touch with one of my kids. My cell phone message repeats that of my friend Dahlia: “You have reached the bottom of Margo’s handbag.” We dinosaurs are trainable, however. When I travel or am in a huge store with my husband, I make it a point to turn the thing on. I think your girlfriend might accept this compromise. Maybe you three could name it “Nordy’s Rule.” Good luck. — Margo, wirelessly

Here’s What She Said

Dear Margo: Ha! I am the dinosaur girlfriend, and this would be my answer if I were writing as you: Really? This is the worst thing you can think of to say about your girlfriend? That she doesn’t constantly use her phone and have it on? Do you realize how many men would kill to be in your shoes? I suggest you think about how truly fortunate you are to have someone who hangs on your every word (no matter that you are often misguided or mistaken) as opposed to chatting with or texting her friends while you struggle to get her attention. Why don’t you write back to me sometime when you have a REAL problem? — Margo, Rolling Eyes in Disbelief

Dear Roll: It is unusual — and fun — for me to hear both sides of a story. Each of the three of you — you, your daughter and the boyfriend — has a valid point. I do, however, think you all can meet in the middle somewhere. (See “Nordy’s Rule.”) Just as an aside, I prefer our way (yours and mine) to that of people who have their cell phones glued to an ear and think nothing of talking any time, any place, to whoever calls. Prime example of bad behavior: Robert Gibbs, from the White house, was on live TV texting! — Margo, conservatively


Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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77 comments so far.

  1. avatar Linda Myers says:

    I don’t like cell phones or the mentality that because you have a cell phone you are accessible 24/7 as a  result. If you do have one, I guess there is an agreement clause socially you will use it or turn it on, how it is used is still personal discretion. I no longer have one and removed the clause in my life. If I am not at home, leave a message. :-) Maybe someday I will feel differently or inclined to be tied too one, who knows. :-)

    • avatar Lucy Henry says:

      @Linda, I might point out you could accomplish the same thing, not being accessible 24/7, by turning off your cell phone and letting it go to voice mail. I do that myself because I work nights and don’t want to be disturbed during the day when I’m sleeping. The LW’s issue is that his GF isn’t turning on her cell phone in situations where it’s clearly warranted, i.e. being separated at the mall. Or what if he was picking her up at the airport and wanted to use the cell phone lot rather than drive all the way into the airport and pay for parking? It’s not unreasonable to ask that she turn on and answer her phone at such times.

      • avatar Linda Myers says:

        In a previously agreed, mutual situation I could understand being communicative with the cell phone. If they had went to the mall, separated and agreed to meet at a certain time and place and he decides 10 minutes later he has changed that plan – calls on the phone and is left to the original agreement or hoofing it trying to find her – so be it! Regardless if cell or a home phone at night, if she wanted to spend her evening being on call to hear the minutes of his day when he felt like doing so, she would have the phone on. She is not against spending time with him or listening to him but prefers to do so in a more quality space of connecting at the same time, she has that choice. Continually calling or texting leaves a lot to be said of how society both respects the time of other people, in some form holds a controlling factor in lives and a lack of common sense at times in being able to decipher being intrusive also just to satisfy a personal need of communication. I worked for years in a job where I not only spent my days being available to clients and their needs but also periods of up to 30 days being on call 24/7 in wait on their needs. When they called, I jumped and after that time still being available via cell for the calls and texts from family and friends. 90% of the texts being random reminders they were bored and asking me where I was and what I was doing for no particular reason other than doing so. Cell phones, texting and the like are fine when used with discretion or common sense, when used as a random tool available to satisfy a need by the user to disrupt the life of somebody else is when poor taste becomes the norm. As far as her choosing not to be on that same hook with her daughter, I think she is sending the message to her daughter for some space in life disconnected to the cell. Conversation and connecting in life is what society is about – as is how we choose to value our time personally. I for one, choose life without the cell at this time.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Agreed, Linda.  An old boss used to gripe at me for not having my cell constantly ON me.  I explained that I won’t be carrying or using it, for instance, in the shower, at the gym, running or while mowing the lawn.  There was a time when we just had a phone hanging on the kitchen wall, and if no one answered, you could just… *gasp* call again later.
      And I still don’t text, mainly because I refuse to pay the exorbitant rates for a service which costs the phone companies nothing to provide.  Living in Europe, it made sense to text because it was free and saved your minutes.  Haven’t texted since coming back to the US.

      • avatar Linda Myers says:

        The time before cells and being hooked to the pager was worse, having to locate a phone regardless of what you were doing to answer a question taking 30 seconds after spending the time locating the phone.

      • avatar Chris Glass` says:

        I like the bit about calling again later. When will callers realize that not everyone is at their beck and call so to speak? I have a cell phone land line and answering machine. I return all important calls but refuse to be jerked around by those looking to fill in time electronically.

      • avatar Linda Myers says:

        I agree! Right now I do not have a reason to feel tied to a phone and I enjoy it. I do keep my old one charged and carry it, in case I ever had a need for 911. Even the land line goes unanswered many times if the call is unnecessary. If voice mail is not worth the time of the caller I let it go! My employer right now, does not even have my land line number, as long as I show when scheduled, good enough for me.

      • avatar moonrevenge says:

        I’m actually a little bit horrified at the way some people see their cell phones as a way to be constantly entertained. I knew a few people who would get “bored” while driving so they’d start dialing people. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel!

      • avatar Linda Myers says:

        Probably the scariest moment I had was on a four lane street with a teenager who was swerving from side to side with everybody trying to avoid being hit, finally she pulled across all lanes again to turn at the light and had to stop. When I looked over at her, she just continued to text oblivious to the scene she had created. I have also noticed when people are on their cell phone and driving, the way they pick up and decrease speed seems to be influenced by the conversation on the phone.

      • avatar Lila says:

        You know, here in the DC area we commute early in the morning… and see people yakking on their phones in traffic at 5:30 AM!  Who the heck are they yakking with at that hour??

      • avatar amw says:

        I wonder the same thing!

      • avatar Mjit RaindancerStahl says:

        They’re talking with the other poor saps stuck commuting at 5:30am.

    • avatar Jay Gentile says:

      I broke up with a man who would not stop with his damned cell phone. In the middle of a sentence, for no reason, he would stop and check his email. He would check messages in church, while driving, while walking on the beach. Then there was the incessant texting from like-minded friends. He is not the president of the United States or a doctor. Nothing he had to say could be that important that he would stop in the middle of dinner to see if someone, anyone sent him a message. It was pathetic and, ultimately, juvenile. I’m too grown-up to be dating a man stuck in his adolescence. The telephone is an invitation, not a command. Remember that.

      • avatar Linda Myers says:

        Many people manage their lives effectively from the phone of choice and apps, without being obsessive.. and for some, it could be a need for attention and a tool to verify attention. So many people, phones, and different forms of usage. The day will come when I have one again, though until I can validate the need and desire for one I am happy being without the cell.

  2. avatar August Miller says:

    Group advice!  COUPLES COUNSELLING.  There’s more of an issue here than a stupid cell phone.

    • avatar Sianne S says:

      Lol, really?  Stop looking for issues when there are none.

      • avatar John Lee says:

        LOL, there’s always a couple of really bad armchair psychiatrists who think there is a huge underlying problem to every disagreement in a relationship, no matter how completely innocuous and minor.

      • avatar August Miller says:

        ”Do you realize how many men would kill to be in your shoes? I suggest you think about how truly fortunate you are to have someone who hangs on your every word (no matter that you are often misguided or mistaken) as opposed to chatting with or texting her friends while you struggle to get her attention.”

        Mrs. Cellphone seems to have issues which play out right in her letter.  I wasn’t trying to be a psychiatrist.  I was telling it like I see it.

        Merry Christmas and I hope Santa makes you both less condescending.

      • avatar Sianne S says:

        Merry Christmas early.  Alas, I didn’t get less “condescending”.  Did you get your own psychology practice?  I’m sure it was on your list.  :)
        Since you tell it like you see it, here’s how *I* see it.  He had a problem, he wrote to Dear Margo.  He showed his girlfriend the letter as a “Ha, here’s what I’m saying to her.” and she did a “Oh, yeah?  Well here’s what I’m saying.  We’ll see who’s right.” game.  No invisible control issues, no buried desires to destroy each other.  Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

    • avatar Jay Gentile says:

      I suspect you are dearly attached to your technology and see the refusal of others to be technological sheep as a character flaw. Perhaps you ought to use that counseling appointment. People who feel the need to broadcast their every move and thought are completed self-involved.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Really? Closet axe murderer? Creeping coprophagist? Do explain why couples counseling is necessary for people describing each other as “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”…I am anxiously awaiting your answer.
      Did it ever occur to you that they may simply be…incompatible? That’s not a grave psychiatric or social issue…that’s just part of life. That’s why people date first, to see if things will work out. You don’t always need a couple’s counselor to figure out that things aren’t quite ideal (or are even heading toward an epic failure).
      It sounds as if the girlfriend would like a more mature, live, person-to-person, quality time relationship, and feels a bit under-rated, and over-taxed with the trivial. It sounds as if the boyfriend wants contact on demand, (that would be his demand), and feels that such minimalist contact such as is typical with texting and very brief cell-phone calls counts as significant time well spent. My question: why isn’t he actually spending more time in her presence (without the daughter, who he seems very in tune with), and less time demanding that she answer a stream of impetuous calls and texts based on sudden thoughts and impetuous demands for her presence (meet me in five minutes)?
      Perhaps I’m wrong, but it doesn’t sound as if they’re even slightly happy or content with one another. No counseling necessary, get thee both back into the dating pool again.

  3. avatar Jessica Morrow says:

    I’m in the middle on this. Yes, it’s horribly RUDE when people have cell phone shaped tumors on their head or they walk into traffic because they are too busy texting.
    However, I wish to god my mother would turn her cell phone on when she’s driving down to visit me for the day. She’d be running 30 minutes late from her ETA and I get nervous. I’d call her cell hoping she’d have it on, pull over, answer and just let me know she’s ok but running late, but no, it’s off.
    I agree with Margo’s compromise, See Nordy’s rule, or car longer than 10 minute car trip rule.

  4. avatar Jennifer juniper says:

    I’m with the boyfriend on this one.  To compare this to people that are rude cell phone users is not fair at all – those are two equally bothersome positions.  I’m am not a big cell phone user – I have it mainly for convenience and emergency but I do at least have it on so I might be reached if need be.
    My husband is like this LW’s girlfriend.  And it drives me nuts.  I often tell him I’d be much happier if he just got rid of it totally than to keep raising the slightest expectation that I might actually get hold of him when I need to. I actually think there is something really quite controlling about the behaviour.

  5. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Maybe, just maybe, like me your girlfriend detests the “old” electronic leash? I gave up my cellphone because I can’t be out and about for an hour without husband phoning wanting to know where I’m at. Pardon me, I’m 45; don’t live with mom and dad anymore. If you quit wanting to inundate her with electronic attention, maybe she’ll relent abit and become more cooperative? Good grief we survived for thousands of years without constant instantaneous communication; seems to me people like YOU are the problem. Give her some room to breathe, okay? And get your nose out of that gadget for an hour or two…

  6. I’m with Margo on this one. I think her suggestion for compromise is fair.
    I have my phone on at all times, so people I care about can reach me – but I do think it’s unreasonable to expect anyone who doesn’t want to text to do so. I’ve never wanted to type with my thumbs, and my husband and teenage son have no desire to do so, either. My teenage stepdaughter texts, but mostly with her mother; texting seems to be her mother’s preferred means of communication.
    I’ve never quite gotten the arguments for texting convenience and speed. A coworker once told me that texting was great for saying things like “Dinner?” “What time?” and “Where?” when you just didn’t want to talk to someone. I still don’t understand why I’d be eating with someone to whom I don’t even want to bother speaking.

    • avatar Legal Eagle says:

      It’s not that you don’t want to bother speaking with the person. It’s just that there are times where a faster mode of communication is necessary. For example, there are times where I will be in-between clients at work, but the next client is sitting in the lobby. I have one or two minutes before their scheduled appointment time and I can quickly text about dinner and quickly get an answer without having to pick up the phone, hope my friend answers, but if they don’t, leave a voice message that they will have to listen to and then call me back and if they do answer, use their cell minutes to ask a very simple question and get information that they could have just given me via text.
      Texting allows for a quick exchange of information that can be done within a second or two. A phone call will always take longer and isn’t really necessary when quick info is needed.

      • Ah, that’s the difference right there! A text would definitely take me longer than a phone call. I’m definitely of the “Okay…where’s the M…M, M, M…okay…how do I get to the O? Oh, keep pushing…” variety.
        I know that it would get much faster were I to actually, you know, do it, but I just find it too annoying and tedious to bother. And I can always shoot off an email and then check it later; everyone I know who texts also keeps their email open constantly.

      • avatar Legal Eagle says:

        For some people, a text does take longer. But for those who do it regularly, it’s fairly quick. Also, a lot of people now have phones with full Qwerty keyboards so that makes it even faster for them. Because of that, it’s not about not wanting to speak to someone, it’s just about speed and convenience. I do not have e-mail accessibility on my phone and there are times I need a quick answer to something that I know I can receive through a text.

  7. avatar Mary says:

    Oh my goodness, the gf must be me, LOL,!  Seriously I do not like cell phones at all, but I have one only because I have a business where I need to be on call.  However, I have a answering service who screens the calls first and they are the only ones who have my cell no.  I have it on only when I am not at home and I tell the service when that is.  Everyone else can call me the old fashion way.  Some of my friends see my cell phone and want my no. and I decline but I always tell them why.  The reason is simple, I give enough of my time to everyone at work,  I don’t want to answer a phone just because I have it and I like the fact that I cannot be reached by everyone 24/7.  Guess I am not a phone person.  Another reason is because the majority of my working life has required me to be on call at some point or another.  I have had to carry pagers while hiking and run down hills , up hiking paths, drive across towns to find pay phones and only to answer my page for ridiculous common sense issues.  

    If this is a issue for the bf when it IS important to reach gf, maybe they need to learn to communicate better face to face first.  like how about setting a time to meet at the mall?  Or airport etc.  In a world filled with communication devices we are lacking in true communication. 

  8. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    I see this as a control issue. This nutcase wants his girlfriend on call for him when the mood strikes to be in contact. He and the daughter need to grow up and realize this woman needs her space. If he is at the mall with her he can always prearrange to meet at a central location at a given time. There is no need for her to interrupt her shopping and run because he sees something he is interested in. If he wants to reach her at night he can use a land line. If she doesn’t have one maybe the phone is off so she can get her rest.
    I carry a cell because my husband is not well and my father-in-law is in a nursing home. They need to be able to reach me in case of an emergency. I do not take calls from anyone when driving. I return important calls but not those from people filling time.

  9. avatar A D says:

    This seems like it should be an easy thing for two mature adults to negotiate.  I don’t leave my cell phone on most of the time.  Very few things are so important that they can’t wait until I get home to be told about them.  The boyfriend should just wait and call her at home in the evening to tell her his “tidbits”; have a little patience, dude.
    However, when they’re out in public and trying to negotiate several people, the girlfriend should agree to have the cell on and within reach, both for convenience and for safety.
    Not everybody who owns a cell phone is a zombie who has to be “plugged in” all the time.  It’s absolutely possible to use them in a sensible and practical manner.

    • avatar Legal Eagle says:

      The boyfriend is calling her at home in the evening to share the tidbits of his day, but she’s not answering the phone. He said “I can’t tell you the number of evenings…” That’s the problem. It doesn’t say in the letter whether she has a land line or not, but I’m thinking she doesn’t if he’s repeatedly tried calling her cell at night. The problem here is less about the cell phone and more about her lack of communication with him. It’s normal for a boyfriend to want to share his day with his girlfriend and to hear about hers. He calls her at night to do so and she doesn’t ever answer.

  10. avatar huskernubian says:

    If my significant other was not available to speak to in the evenings on a consistent basis, I probably would be looking for a new SO at some point.  This is not about being “constantly” accessible, as I read the two versions, it’s about being “reasonably” available.   In fact, ladies, if your man’s phone is never on in the evenings and he is never available to take your calls, you might start to wonder whose calls he IS taking.   If you merely are a technophobe and choose to travel in a buggy and wagon rather than those new-fangled iron horses … or you fear the electronic scanners at the supermarket checkout … then congratulations on being a slow adopter.

    • avatar Legal Eagle says:

      I love how you put this because it’s spot on! It’s not about being constantly available, it’s about being reasonably accessible. YES, that is the perfect encapsulation of the issue.

  11. avatar Drew Smith says:

    Privacy and Presumption,
    The loss of privacy and the presumption that one should be at other’s beck and call is at the root of the conversation.
    Employees think nothing of texting me while I’m on vacation to “ask for my review and approval” and my manager thinks nothing of asking me to “please review” or “attend a quick call.”
    My kid’s coaches, teachers, counselors, friends’ parents all expect me to monitor my phone for important texts about events and etc..
    I for one don’t have free texting, so each one of these “gems” costs me 25 cents, which adds up quickly by the end of the month.
    Then there are the cell phone calls, mindless of time of day, or that I might be in a phone meeting, if I don’t answer my desk phone (and despite knowing that I likely am in a meeting) rather than leave a message, I’ll get repeated calls to my cell, or worse, if I pick-up to let them know I am on a call but want to let them know I realize that I am needed and will call back, they will proceed to attempt a conversation.
    Ever since the Fax machine introduced instant communication, expectations have changed and people have totally forgotten respect for privacy, and presume that others should have the same sense or urgency in responding to messages as those who send them are feeling.
    This strikes me as a form of self-indulgence.

    • Oh, absolutely. Like I said above, I don’t text – but the presumption of everyone else that I was happy to read their text messages led me to have my texting feature on my phone completely disabled. Not only can I not send texts, but no one can send them to me. I’m so glad I did it.
      I think the mall issue is a bit different. I would expect my significant other to be able to reach me, just as I’d expect him to be available. And though, as others have pointed out, it’s possible to set a meet-up time and place, that doesn’t cut it if one person gets caught in a line too long, twists an ankle, that kind of thing.

  12. avatar Linda R. says:

    You’re annoyed because you can’t reach her at HOME, by CELL? What happened to calling the home phone? I am perpetually annoyed by the people who insist in calling my cell when they know I’m at home, then ask, “where are you?” “Oh? at home?, I’ll call back on the land line”…try the damn land line first…don’t waste my limited money and time on the cell, it’s for necessary emergencies….

    • avatar Legal Eagle says:

      It may be that she doesn’t have a land line. I don’t. I use my cell phone as my primary home number.

      • avatar Margo Howard says:

        Legal Eagle (and some others)   Many people, often younger ones, no longer HAVE a land line, because cell service is cheaper — and it goes with them.

  13. avatar Miss Lee says:

    First let me say that my cell phone is my only phone and that it is on 24/7.  I always answer because I have health issues and I don’t want the caller to panic and think the worst.  This has happened with relatives and, since they do watch after me, I really feel the responsibiity to respond and not cause them concern.  However I really do miss the time before cell phones and pagers when I could go out shopping and no one could find me.  Such freedom!  I think that time as long since past most of us by.

  14. avatar Rita@ Goldivas says:

    I don’t text and only ever use my cell phone as a safety device on long road trips. I think they are intrusive, and as others here have pointed out, why the assumption that we should all be available to everyone 24/7?

    I find it especially annoying when I’m shopping. The fun of browsing through the merchandise is ruined by idiots on their cell phones having totally inane, unnecessary conversations. I’ve noticed a disturbing tendency – they seem to have to report their whereabouts to whomever they’re talking to – “I’m at Kohl’s now, heading over to blah, blah.” There doesn’t seem to be any real purpose to the conversation, it’s just idle chat that shoule be taken OUTSIDE.

  15. avatar Mrs Smith says:

    I keep a cell phone with me, but rarely need it.  I mainly use it when the family is out and we’re heading off in different directions.  No one other than my immediate family and my best friend have my cell number.  I did that on purpose because I don’t want to be at other peoples’ beck and call 24-7.  I also had the phone company disable the texting function.  The kids’ phone is used only for contacting their father and me. 

    If anyone other than my family wants to talk to me, they can call my office or home land line.  If I’m not in, they can leave voice mail. 

  16. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    1.  I am not a dinosaur, but I do not have the need to have my cell on 24/7.  Mine sits in the bottom of my purse and is for emergencies only or for a coordinated period of time if it’s needed – such as what the boyfriend describes above.  I find the whole excessive use of phones to be obnoxious!  I, too, am either at home or in my office, I can be reached there if people need to call.

    2.  Furthermore, to anyone who doesn’t have a land line – please get one!  As a trained disaster volunteer for my community, it is very important to have one.  Getting the cheapest, local service will do because if there’s an emergency you don’t want to have to depend on your cell phone! 

    • avatar Jessica J says:

      Hate to break it to you, but there may be a time in the very near future where land lines won’t be available at all.  They’re not more reliable anymore, either.
      In general, all these comments about limited cell phone use and no texting are very amusing.  I am not “old” nor am I “young”, but what I am is able to recognize that there is no need to make judgment calls (pardon the pun) about cell phone use.  Rude people have always existed, and they will always exist.  Not having or using a cell phone/not texting is borderline socially irresponsible.  It is akin to someone in this day and age refusing to own a car and instead using a horse and buggy.  The analogy isn’t perfect–some in rural areas might be able to do it, but think of someone in the city doing this.  How would you feel if you were sitting at a restaurant waiting for your friend to arrive, and they pull up on a horse?  I assure you: any whimsy or charm would wear off very quickly, especially when they want you to ride with them, or they show up on your doorstep dripping wet because they got caught in an unexpected shower.
      The point is, these innovations–cell phones and texting–did not come about because people were bored or wanted to create annoyances.  They came about to solve problems and promote progress and efficiency.  They have done that, and to refuse to use them and to state proudly ones ‘dinosaur’ status is simple snobbery and foolishness.  Pointing out the abuses that others do as an excuse not to learn and participate in responsible cell usage is also pathetic, and speaks more to laziness about learning something new than anything else.
      My vote:  The girlfriend sounds like a selfish, self-centered woman who apparently thinks she’s God’s gift to the world and all her quirks should be accommodated.  Her boyfriend should find someone who has more consideration for him, and the daughter should start counting down the days till she can leave the house.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Jessica J, darling, is it possible that you didn’t read all of the comments before posting? Or are you simply as entitled as you sound?
        Several of us who are not interested in being available 24/7 to obnoxious morons who feel that they simply must share every momentary thought (probably due to extremely short term memory issues) right now, and who become furious when their target is not available, are not dinosaurs, Luddites or technophobes. Nor do we fear, or are we too “lazy” to learn something new. I saw posts from at least one IT professional (I’d wager she’s not challenged about the innovative or technical), and I myself am very technically savvy, and fascinated with innovation.
        Perhaps what we are is patient, and mature, and capable of waiting for quality time with those we love. We might even be able to plan ahead, and to keep to those plans without becoming distracted by some random whim or fancy, and have enough respect for others to allow them the freedom to continue with their plans, even when we are very excited about something we’ve seen, found, heard or experienced. Maybe we value privacy, down time, quiet and a chance to be still, not just for ourselves, but for others as well. It could be that we have enough confidence in those we love to let them off the leash, and to not check in with them constantly…because we trust them, and hope that they trust us, and because we are secure, and hope that they are secure and confident as well. I am not just talking about partners…but also friends, children and parents. Perhaps we even understand the idea of quality time spent alone, doing something that one simply can’t find the same degree of pleasure in when the activity is shared.
        None of the ideas in the above paragraph qualify a person as an anachronism, which is what you’re looking for when you use terms like “dinosaur”. What they do mean is that the person is secure, mature, confident in herself, has her own life, values respect and privacy…and that she would like to see the same qualities in others. It does not make her irresponsible, lacking in social consciousness, selfish, or self-centered.
        By the way, texting is usually used to send extremely short, curt messages, and is becoming the death of meaningful conversation. I know a lot of very bright, incredibly gifted young people who own cell phones, but who do not text because they say it’s a pain in the butt. It’s also become the number one national reason for car accidents involving injury. Necessary? Not at all. Cell phones are a nice innovation and definitely have their uses…but not forcing the world to revolve around manic users every second of their entitled, demanding, addicted-to-instantaneous-gratification lives.
        And a small, but significant note. Have you ever lived in a part of the country in which the inclement weather is extremely harsh and even violent? It tend to knock out the power…and disable the cell phone towers. That’s right dear, right here is civilization, (well, Houston, Texas, anyway), hurricanes tend to kill cell phone towers. So do tornadoes, and blizzards. The only things that actually work are, gasp, land-lines! They haven’t thought of anything better yet.

  17. avatar Sianne S says:

    My goodness, a lighthearted couple of letters for once and we still have ‘invisible issues”.  I’m surprised no one has accused the boyfriend of being a narcissist, or a closet abuser yet.  We did get ‘control freak” a couple of times though, so I guess that’s something.  Me, I don’t even answer the landline half the time.  I’m usually trying to write, and I don’t like being interrupted.  If it is important, you will leave a message so I can call you back when I take my breaks.  No, the “Hey, pick up the phooooooooooooooone, I know you’re theeeeeeeeeeeere.” messages won’t get to drop what I’m doing either, unless it’s followed by a “I’ve broken my leg and need a lift to the ER.”
    Boyfriend needs to relax a little and realize that not everyone is as attached (or addicted, read some of the horror stories online now about cell phone addiction, it’s not pretty) to the phone as he is.  I support the Nordy’s rule compromise that Margo suggested.  It’s a fair compromise and one I would do…..if I had a cell phone, that is.

  18. avatar Princess Rapunzel says:

    I’m one of those people who fall somewhere in the middle here.  I have a cell phone (no land line) and I don’t text.  I don’t feel tied to my phone and I regularly miss calls, but I regularly check my voicemail and return those calls and I make certain I have my phone in a hearable location when expecting a call, driving in my car, or away from my kids in case of an emergency.  

    I don’t understand why the LW girlfriend even owns a cell phone if she never uses it.  Why give out your phone number if you are never available to be called?  My sister is just like this LW girlfriend and it’s so frustrating and hurtful to those of us who want to spend time with her and can’t reach her.  It’s obvious that my sister and the LW girlfriend are anti-social and like to keep everyone at a distance.  You’re allowed to interact with them only on their terms.  It wouldn’t be that hard for the girlfriend to pre-arrange times to be available by phone with her boyfriend as Margo suggests.  I suspect the boyfriend will find someone else who values regular communication and availability and who cares about and respects him enough to compromise if this girlfriend keeps up this attitude of stubborn resistance.

    Bottom Line:  If you don’t want to be available for people to call you, then don’t give out your number.  If you own a cell phone…then why aren’t you using it?  Having a cell phone does not mean you are tied to it…it’s your choice to be rude and text/talk during dinner or to put it on silent mode and ignore it.

    • avatar Crystal Wheeler says:

      I’m so glad it’s obvious to you that these people are anti-social. I guess I must be anti-social too. I can’t count the number of times that people like my parents or my in-laws complain of not being able to reach me on my cell phone. The reason why? I’m absent-minded. I consistently forget to charge the dang thing. I have to be very careful about where I put it or I will lose it. I do the same thing with my car keys, purse, and daughter’s diaper bag, not to mention myriad other things. My husband has talked about getting rid of the land line because we both have cell phones, and I flat out refuse. We have multiple handsets for our land line, as well, in order to make sure at least one is charged all the time. We even have a back-up wall mount for when I’ve lost all the hand sets to the land line.
      I like my cell phone. I have no issues using it, although I certainly don’t use anywhere near it’s full functionality. I guess I’m just controlling, manipulative and anti-social. Thanks!

  19. avatar exhibitABC says:

    I do not have a land line, haven’t had one in 10 years, and never intend to have one again.  I have a cell phone that is on 24/7, and to have a land line would be simply redundant.

    If the woman in the letter had a land line that she answered, keeping her cell phone off would be a non-issue, which clearly isn’t the case.

    I do not understand why some people feel that having a cell phone makes them anymore “on a leash” than having a land line.  If anything, it gives you more freedom.  You can make a call whenever you want, wherever you are.  You aren’t tied to your house when you’re expecting an important call.  You can also silence the ringer or turn it off completely, neither of which were an option on land lines when I had them.  Also, like a land line, you can choose whether or not to answer.  If you do not wish to take calls, silence the ringer and check your messages when you’re ready!  Why is this so hard for people?  

    • avatar Lucy Henry says:

      ^ Exactly.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I’ve had a land-line for years, still do, and for at least the last two decades most phones (even the horrid, anachronistic, but utterly necessary in case of a power failure corded variety) have come with options to reduce the volume or silence the ringer completely, with answering machines and/or services that can be accessed remotely…and, of course, the ability to be disconnected from the phone jacks. I’m not sure what sort of antique you had ten years ago…but my cordless came with a digital answering machine, various ring-tones, a flashing light to let you know that messages were waiting, (it was actually a number that indicated exactly how many callers had left messages), a ring volume adjuster and silencer, remote access to messages and to change one’s greeting, caller ID, etc.. We purchased the phone when we moved into this house 13 years ago…and only got a new, more compact model recently. I think we paid about $50 for it. It was even an attractive happening metallic blue. Yowza.
      So please, don’t hand out that “Land-lines are so useless and inconvenient” garbage. some of us know better. I suspect that many of those heartily defending the boyfriend are of the sort who can’t exist without their cell phones permanently attached to their ears, or their thumbs, constantly in contact with someone about something. Some of us actually leave the house with the expectation of enjoying some time doing the things we enjoy without interruption, and also do sometimes actually prefer a modicum of privacy at home as well. And it has always been possible to silence land-lines, even back in the ’60’s, when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

      • avatar exhibitABC says:

        Fantastic.  So land lines are nearly as convenient as cell phones.  That is great news.

        However, a phone call is still a phone call, whether it’s coming in on the cell phone or the land line, and to consider one method any more intrusive than the other is absurd.  Everyone is only as accessible as they want to be, and there is no reason to feel like one has less privacy with a cell phone than with a land line.

      • avatar Sianne S says:

        Not to mention that if, god forbid, you misplace/forget to charge your cellphone and are caught in an emergency, a land line is a million times easier to trace by EMS.

  20. avatar Gerri Lynn says:

    I hate my smart phone. Yes, it’s useful in many ways, esp. the navigation features, and I can’t count the times I’ve solved an argument by looking up examples of what I”m talking about. But overall, I hate the thing. I have to charge it, keep track of it, and it’s always there, lurking. That, and I HATE talking on it. No matter what phone, I have a hard time hearing others (and it’s not my hearing), and they have hard times understanding me. I have to commit a hand to holding the darn thing; I can’t pinch it between ear and shoulder. Gar. So many reasons to hate the thing.

    That being said, when hubby and I are shopping in different parts of a huge store or mall, having the darn thing is also useful. We can call each other and meet up when we’re ready, or find out of if the other person is ready or not.

    The compromise that Margo suggests is a reasonable one, tbh. Walk in the door, do a phone check, turn it on, and then answer it when a text goes off. Walk out the door, turn it off. 

    TBH, I don’t like the whole “is this the worst problem you’ve got with your girlfriend” attitude. It’s a fallacy that attempts to avoid the issue by changing the subject. The girlfriend’s response is an attempt to dodge the issue by changing the parameters of the discussion. Really? Honestly, this is a both of you issue. Work out a compromise and stop trying to point the finger anywhere but at yourself.

  21. avatar Caramia says:

    I’m a bigger dinosaur than Margo.  I don’t even own a cell phone.  I hardly use the landline, The only time I’d use the cell is if my car breaks down. 

  22. avatar Rho says:

    I only use my cell phone as a phone, I had everything else turrned off.  I was one of the first to get one, when they came out.  I like to have it when I am driving.  No texting, no internet.

  23. avatar Phillip Koons says:

    Sounds to me like this is the other side of the spectrum from people that are obsessed with their phones.  An extreme either way is no good.
    If I was him, I’d be quite aggravated that I couldn’t call at night to say Hi and see how things are going.  It sounds like the phone is more or less at the bottom of her purse unless she happens to need it for something….not so she can actually be reached.  She’d probably save money just using payphones in that case.
    I see this no different than if she had a land line and just never answered it.   Just no point to having it.  While I think it’s unreasonable to be reachable 24-7, it doesn’t sound like that’s what the boyfriend is expecting or wanting.

    • avatar Phillip Koons says:

      Oops…forgot to question about what would happen if the boyfriend or daughter had an emergency and needed to reach her.  It’s a little selfish.

      • avatar Legal Eagle says:

        I agree with both of your messages Phillip. The boyfriend is not expecting 24/7 availability, he’s just asking for reasonable availability as another poster put it. Also, I really do hope the boyfriend or daughter never has an emergency and needs to reach her. It would be terrible if something happened to either of them and she was blissfully unaware until after they had gotten to the hospital and/or died. The guilt would be too much to take there.
        I have had two such occasions where I was never so thrilled to own a cell phone. On one occasion, my mother was hospitalized with severe internal bleeding several states away and called to let me know. On my way to the airport, I was able to call all those in my life, including my boss, to let them know what had happened, set up support for the time I would be gone (someone to watch the dogs, etc.). It was peace of mind to know that I could do so.

  24. avatar Briana Baran says:

    I have a cell phone. The only function enabled is its ability to make and receive calls. It is never turned on when I am driving, as only four people have the number, and I only rarely anticipate calls from any of them. If, for some reason, I might suspect that one of them has a reason to call, I check the phone when I am parked, with the engine off. If there are no messages, I turn the miserable thing off again.
    I am not a dinosaur, a Luddite, or even a technophobe. I have no problems understanding technology at all. I am actually quite fascinated by many of the aspects of my husband’s profession (an IT administrator), easily learn new computer systems, and can set up complex sound systems and equipment. This is not bragging, it’s pointing out that not everyone who detests cell phones is necessarily a “horse-and-buggy” anachronism.
    I do value my privacy greatly. We have a land-line, an answering machine, and a voice mail system. We do not answer the phone during family dinner, unless it is extremely important that we take the call. We have Caller ID. If the call happens to show as an Unknown Caller, or an 800, 866, or 877 number, we don’t answer unless they leave a detailed message. We are on a “Do Not Call” list for telemarketers. Our land-line is unlisted. If I don’t want to talk to someone, or I am busy, I feel free not to answer the phone. I do return calls to most people that come in while I am absent.
    My cell phone is never on when I am at home. I think that the current accepted norm of being available to everyone 24/7 for alleged o-so-important calls is intrusive and ridiculous. When did the individual become everyone’s ear? I personally think that it is weird for Mr. “Dating a Dinosaur” to feel obliged to have to call his girlfriend every time he has a momentary chuckle, or a (rather dim) light-bulb flickers for him. Why not save up the entire day to savor in a more complete conversation? Sounds like an immediate gratification issue for him, which is a problem for a lot of folks of late. Especially teenagers, of which tribe I’m guessing the daughter is a member in good standing. Some teens seemingly cannot survive without being in contact every second of their lives with their various BFF’s, frenemies, boyfriends, casual acquaintances, Facebook friends (all 1000+ of them), etc.. It rather sounds as if the boyfriend ought to be dating the daughter, not her mother, as they seem to have a similar mindset. As for the mall, cell phones can be very useful if one is separated from the rest of a group, to insure that everyone meets at an agreed upon place, at an agreed upon time. But deciding on a whim that you simply must have your girlfriend somewhere in five minutes for to look at some to-die-for shirt, or preview some tunes, when she may actually be in the process of browsing something that she enjoys, or trying on clothing, or doing something that doesn’t require your presence because it would bore you silly (which is why everyone went their separate ways to begin with) is ludicrous. I think the boyfriend has some growing up to do.
    As to why the girlfriend turns off her cell at night…might it possibly be because clingy someone and darling daughter call with every tiny thought that comes into their heads, and she can’t sit down, have a coffee or tea, or a glass of wine, or a warm meal…then relax in her comfy clothes, in her best spot, with her favorite music, show, book, or some combination of these without the damnable cell phone going off every five minutes? Maybe she prefers to screen her calls through her land-line…if she has one, or maybe she would just like a spell of privacy, peace and quiet. This is not unnatural, you know. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her daughter…or care for King Pest. And it doesn’t make her a dinosaur.

  25. avatar Briana Baran says:

    May I also mention that no where in the letter is it stated that the woman doesn’t have a land-line, and that some people seem to be convinced that the cell phone is their only option for contact. And he isn’t complaining about emergencies, he’s whining about texting, and about not having her immediately available, and about (gasp!) having to search a whole thirty minutes through the mall. I’d be willing to bet that she might even turn on her phone if she knew she would have a certain window of time in which she wasn’t going to be endlessly harassed about crucial, it-can’t-wait-more-than-five-minutes meetings in shoes, because there was a (o, horrors!) pre-arranged calling and meeting time.
    He honestly sounds like a bit of a spoiled boor. And I can’t for the life of me figure out the people who stay on their phones all day, every day, from dusk till dawn, yakking, either. Yes, I have friends…but good grief, there just isn’t that much to talk about. And the one time I did need my cell phone in an emergency (it was charged, and turned on, and within reach, the miserable toy completely crapped out on me and failed to ring. My son had been exposed to chlorine gas at the pool (fortunately he was fine), and I found out when I checked my messages. My DH got the horrid thing ringing again, but (and he works with cell phones as part of his job) couldn’t figure out why it failed. So much for the indispensability of cell phones.

    • avatar Linda Myers says:

      Agreed Brianna on all points. This dinosaur here by profession is a IT analyst and specialist by trade. I also determine my boundries. I imagine there is more reasons unsaid why she is choosing her availability to boyfriend and daughter. If she agrees to be available and isn’t, I do see that as a fault and irresponsible on her part, otherwise I agree she is entitled to decide how open she is too communication. He could go the old fashion way and agree to a time to get together and share with her, face to face.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        ” If she agrees to be available and isn’t, I do see that as a fault and irresponsible on her part…”. Precisely my point. I try to make it a point to be at home when my mother says she’s going to call from Illinois (regardless of the necessity for utter silence and tranquility for an hour afterward). If I say, “I’ll be expecting a call from you on the dirty, rotten cell at 5 pm”, it will be charged and turned on. We had considered attending the Renaissance Faire this year, and allowing our thirteen-year-old son to bring a friend or two so that they could “do their own thing”, while we caught the few sights still worth seeing (it is very “PG” and tame…and dull compared to 20 years ago, but perfect for middle school kids) then relaxing and reading our books until it was time to go. Our one requirement would have been a working cell phone with each boy, for emergencies yes, but also to make coordination and issues of, “What’s good to eat?” and “Meet us at the front gate in one hour” easy.
        They have their uses. But they can also be intrusive and completely break down the paper walls of privacy. It seems that today, so many people have the extremely entitled belief that anyone, and everyone that they even slightly know, personally, socially, or professionally, should be available at their every whim, on a moment’s notice.  I don’t think that either the boyfriend or the girlfriend particularly have issues of the sort requiring counseling. I think she may value her privacy a bit more than he can be comfortable with, and that he is a latter-day child of the modern “I want it and I want it now” trend toward a need for instant gratification. Just because a couple is incompatible (and thankfully not so deeply invested that they have already begun cohabiting, or have married), does not mean that they have deep, underlying issues, or should run off to a counselor, That’s why people date first. To see if things will work. Have we forgotten about that so soon, the whole experimental, it doesn’t always work between to people phase of finding a partner? Good grief.