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 rinski says:

    Ditch the  Dinosaur and find a more considerate girlfriend. It’s not about technology and its over or under use, it’s about lack of respect. Find a girlfriend who takes your feelings and time into consideration. Why have a cell phone if you never use it?

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      On the other hand, perhaps she should find a boyfriend who knows the meaning of allowing a person her space, and isn’t a whiny, clingy juvenile who requires her at his beck and call every five minutes. Respect goes both ways. So does consideration of feelings.

  2. avatar Anne Whitacre says:

    I’m with the dinosaurs on this one.  Even shopping.  (even at Nordstrom).  Before cell phones we used to be able to meet at a pre-arranged time and place and that meant that people had to learn to be on time and considerate.  I think texting is for idiots, and people who can’t get off their phones are menaces to the rest of us. 
    A cell phone for me is a business convenience.  I used to travel several times a month, and having a stable phone number (and email address) allowed friends to stay in contact with me when we were in different states.  Using a cell phone to talk with someone when you’re in the same physical address just seems lazy to me and inconsiderate to everyone around you.

  3. avatar Maggie Richardson says:

    Here’s another dinosaur… my phone: my rules. No-one has the number… I only know it myself by referring to the tape I attached on the back! It’s purely for emergencies (while driving, locked out of the house). Suits me fine and I do have a landline with message facility. It’s far more annoying to me when people will NOT at least leave their name when they get the message line.

  4. avatar Ginna Gudgel says:

    I’m probably one of the few 20-somethings (26) that refuses to get a cell phone. My fiance has a work-issued cell and he calls incessantly when he’s working. When I go out by myself (window shopping), I tend to just GO or if he’s home, I tell him where I’m going and that I’ll be back. Before, I wouldn’t even do that or write a note indicating I’d be going somewhere. As for the cell phone thing…if I’m out with someone he knows has a cell phone and he knows the number, I can’t just GO and relax.

    Cell phones to me are the biggest destroyer of social relationships next to the internet and Facebook. I have a Facebook account, yes, but I’ve also been on the internet since I was 11. I owned a cell phone for about 4 months back when I was 18 (before Smartphones existed) and it was a thorn in my side then.

    I like being able to go places without someone sending me a pointless message with seemingly alien word construction on it. I like my privacy. I like the idea of not having a digital chain around my ankle if a friend or relative feels like killing time by sending me a stupid message.

    In regards to the letter writing boyfriend…if she’s got a cell phone, she’s probably got an email address. How about you shoot her an email that details whatever you want to talk about in it? OR!!! You could text her daughter and her daughter can tell her to call you.

    I refuse to have a phone glued to my head or cemented to my thumbs just because everyone else does it.

    Besides…I’m about to buy a CORDED house phone so I can do whatever business I need to do on my land line without risking my private information being picked up on a scanner. Ever listen to a police radio wave scanner? You can hear all the nearby phone conversations as well, but all you get is what the people speaking on wireless phones are saying.

  5. avatar amw says:

    I got my first cell phone 9 years ago, excitedly anticipating it’s convenience and resourcefulness.

    Instead, I found that all communication to me was via text message and typically was not a greeting but a forward! When I did receive a message in greeting it was usually someone “drunk texting” or inviting me to come “party.”

    I even went so far as adding a data plan so that I could keep up with friends via social networking. I thought perhaps this would be a more “convenient” way for my friends to keep in touch with me. It seems that all that time spent messing with their phones is to update their status. Does anyone really care what time you sit down to eat dinner or that you’re headed to the grocery store?

    After careful consideration, I opted to delete all of my social networking memberships AND to change my phone number. I have to have a cell phone because I am frequently on-call at my job. I passed the new number to the people I do keep in touch with and left it at that. I probably cut out 200 contacts.

    I (happily) do not miss the mass forwards, chain letters and midnight “beeps.” Yet I am still available to those most important to me.

  6. avatar Kathy says:

    I agree with those who say we are all too attached to our cell phones, but LW1 says that he – and his girlfriend’s daughter – are frustrated.  That he – and his girlfriend’s daughter – wander around a mall for a half hour looking for her.  Cell phones are tools of control.  I can find you by calling you; I can ignore you by silencing my phone.  I bet the lady checks her phone often enough – she just doesn’t always want to be found. 

  7. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    I don’t own a cell phone.  I have never texted in my life.  I make sure I am on time.

    I am not so fascinating that I need to share every moment of my existence.  And–no offense to friends–none of them are, either.

  8. avatar Donna H says:

    I’ve had cell phones for about six years ago.  I got mine mainly so I could keep in touch with my aging Dad while at work after management had the pay phone taken out of my building.
    I’ve had several basic phones, but I love my smartphone.  It’s not anywhere near “top of the line” (my teen-aged nephew frequently shows me stuff he can do with his cell that I can’t do with mine). I too use mine to go online to settle arguments.  It’s come in handy when shopping for gifts; I can call to see what sizes the little ones need when I’ve forgotten my list, or report that I’ve found a great sale on something someone wanted, & ask if anyone else already bought it.  I travel by bus, & can call to let someone know that I’ll be late because the bus is stuck behind a raised bridge. I can call my dad who winters in another state much cheaper than I can on my land line.  I have a couple of games on mine that can keep me amused on a bus ride (when I’ve finished my book) or keep my great nephew quiet. I do text, & have even “sexted” (yeah, I know, I know….at my age?????).  I can program it to give someone (or everyone in my address book) a special ringtone so i know who’s calling without looking at the screen.
    However, they can be annoying.  I hate hearing others argue loudly over their cells in public, & I really don’t care to hear the details of someone’s stomach upset on a bus. I hate hearing them go off in a theatre because despite warning before the film, concert, etc. started, some idiot has decided the warning doesn’t imply to her/him.  I get mad when I’ve forgotten to turn off my cell when I’ve been in a “quiet” situation. When I was still working, management asked for employees’ cell phone numbers.  I refused to give mine because they already had my land line number.  One of the supervisors went to the security guards (that provided rides to non-drivers like me) & got my number from them.
    I’d get rid of my land line if I didn’t need it to call my cell when I’ve forgotten where in the house I’ve left it.

  9. avatar Wendy R says:

    Wow… well I don’t even have a Landline anymore, haven’t had one for over five years. Decided it was a waste of money. All my friends have cell phones and mobile to mobile is usually free, so I use my cell for all calls. I have an iphone and love it. Here is the trick, listen close now, if you don’t want to be bothered turn it OFF! I turn my ringer off at dinners, movies, gatherings and other fun social events. I think it funny when people say “I don’t have a cell phone because I don’t want to be accessible 24/7″, you are incharge of your cell phone not the other way around. I think the LW’s lady friend should consider using her phone when out and about and turn it off when home, just meet him halfway.

  10. avatar william beilstein says:

    I’m 57 years old and greatly prefer texting. For example, If I’m on my way home and decide to stop for dinner, I will text a friend to ask them if they want to go. If they don’t answer, I go without them. No phone calls, no voice messages, if they can’t be bothered to answer a quick simple question then I can’t be bothered to chase them down.

  11. avatar chuck alien says:

    hey girlfriend… there IS middle ground, you know?
    all those guys that you think would feel lucky to have you… would still be upset at you never answering when they call you.
    that said, your boyfriend is complaining about not being able to share “tidbits about his day” and uses the term “Nordy’s” … so you may have a point. i wouldn’t really want to talk to him either.

  12. avatar Jan Smith says:

    This isn’t about a cellphone, it’s about control.

    A phone, cell or landline, is there for the convenience of the person who owns it.  That’s what I tell telemarketers before I hang up on them.   If this guy’s girlfriend doesn’t want to talk to him on the cell, he should try calling her landline… or maybe ask HER to call HIM, or set a rendezvous before going to “nordy’s.”

    I don’t use my cell much.  It’s there for emergencies and to keep in touch when I travel.   The risks of having a microwave transmitter right next to your head are blown off by the cell companies, but they are a serious issue.  I suspect this guy’s friend values her brain cells.

    As for landlines… I still prefer them.  In a serious disaster like Hurricane Katrina, the cell towers went dead early on, and only landlines kept working.  With climate change, we can expect more extreme weather, not less.