Is he a wor­thy ri­val to her phone?

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - LIFE + STYLE - By Amy Dickinson [email protected]­dick­in­son.com Twit­ter @ask­ingamy

I am a 57-year-old man dat­ing a 49-year-old woman. We’ve been to­gether for over a year. She is beau­ti­ful, smart, sexy and tons of fun. How­ever, she never puts her phone down.

No mat­ter what we are do­ing, she is tex­ting and an­swer­ing texts from her teenage chil­dren. This goes on no mat­ter how se­ri­ous or in­con­se­quen­tial the is­sue. She will sit in a dark movie the­ater and text her son about where his shoes are, or an­swer ques­tions that could def­i­nitely wait un­til she isn’t busy.

Her re­ply is that she has three kids and has to be avail­able to them al­ways, no mat­ter what. She lit­er­ally has rolled over in bed, grabbed her phone and an­swered ques­tions about fam­ily birth­days, etc.

To make it even more com­pli­cated, she plays on­line games and thinks noth­ing of whip­ping out her phone in a nice restau­rant as I sit there so hu­mil­i­ated while wait­resses look at me with pity.

She says I am old-fash­ioned and that this is nor­mal be­hav­ior. Is it?

Let’s grant your gal her ob­ses­sion with her teenage kids’ shoes. If she is an in­volved mom and not at home be­cause she is with you, then I’d say yes, she should get a pass to com­mu­ni­cate with them, even though she seems to do so to a ridicu­lous de­gree. (But no tex­ting in the movie the­ater, Mom!)

Now, why is she play­ing Candy Crush at the din­ner ta­ble? Do you con­front her about her rude­ness? And if not, why not?

You are a fel­low adult. You have feel­ings. You don’t like be­ing ig­nored, discounted and then told that your feel­ings are less im­por­tant than her on­line gam­ing or that you are “old-fash­ioned” be­cause you don’t like be­ing ig­nored. Frankly, she doesn’t seem that into you. If she were, she would be pay­ing more at­ten­tion to you when she was phys­i­cally with you.

En­joy this re­la­tion­ship for what it is, while it lasts. I hope ul­ti­mately you will choose to be with some­one who makes you feel wanted, im­por­tant and worth it.

This seems petty, and it’s a lit­tle em­bar­rass­ing, but ev­ery af­ter­noon I go to my pub­lic li­brary to pick out books, do a lit­tle work and just in gen­eral en­joy the at­mos­phere. This li­brary is lovely and his­toric. I’ve been vis­it­ing it my en­tire life.

Lately there is a group of chil­dren who come to the li­brary af­ter school (and some­times on week­ends). They seem like nice enough kids, but they are given ac­cess to a (mon­i­tored) com­puter, and they play a game that has ver­bal prompts and var­i­ous noises. Amy, it is like nails on a black­board. I lit­er­ally can­not stand it.

I don’t want to dis­cour­age these kids from com­ing to the li­brary, but is there any­thing I can do?

All of our li­braries are chang­ing as they tran­si­tion from be­ing silent places where the books stood sen­try to be­ing places that are more like com­mu­nity cen­ters. I ap­plaud these changes, even though I know it’s a tough ad­just­ment (I’m writ­ing this col­umn in my own lo­cal li­brary).

A li­brary is the per­fect place for kids to gather, and I hope you will keep this in mind as you cope with the an­noy­ance.

Ask your li­brar­ian if there are des­ig­nated quiet times or quiet spa­ces where si­lence will rule. Bring along some head­phones to wear. With noise-can­cel­ing head­phones, you will only hear the sound of your own breath. This might be a game-changer for you.

I was very moved by the let­ter from “Hurt and Sad,” who was up­set when friends didn’t ex­tend con­do­lences af­ter her fa­ther’s death.

I want you to know that this par­tic­u­lar line re­ally got to me: “Show­ing up as a wit­ness to some­one else’s loss is a vi­tal ex­pres­sion of our own hu­man­ity.”

I’ve cut it out and put it in my wal­let. Thank you.

I wrote that line, and yet even I need to re­mem­ber that do­ing the hard work of “wit­ness­ing” is pro­found and im­por­tant.

No one ever knows what to say or do af­ter a loss. And so start­ing with “I don’t re­ally know what to say” is both hon­est and ac­cept­able.

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