Online friend doesn't want to pick up the phone

Amy answers questions about online friendships, dealing with a chatty friend, and being able to say...

Amy answers questions about online friendships, dealing with a chatty friend, and being able to say no. (Fotolia)

Amy Dickinson, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

DEAR AMY: I met a man online 18 months ago. We have a good friendship.

We began e-mailing, which led to our current form of communication -- texting. My problem is that my friend only wants to text or e-mail. We have never talked to each other.

I called him once and got his voice mail, which had a man's voice (it had occurred to me that he could be a she, but we have also exchanged photos and addresses).

I am fine with text and e-mail, as I don't want to do anything to ruin our friendship. I'm just curious about this. We are both in the 40-54 age range.

He has never been married, and I am married. There is no romance going on, just a good friendship. We have conversed by e-mail or text every day since 2013.

What are your thoughts about the "no talking" aspect of our relationship? -- Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: You don't mention asking this man why he doesn't want to speak to you; this would be the obvious first place to look for answers.

You also don't mention why you -- you say you're married -- are looking online for new male friendships.

Regardless of your mutual motivations, I think it's possible that he is simply extremely shy; he may fear that voice calls will merge into pressure to meet in person. Or he may avoid phone calls because they are simply less easy to control than text-based communication.

My favourite book about an epistolary relationship is 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (1990 Penguin Books). Hanff was a spunky (unmarried) writer in New York City when she began a lively, lovely and touching correspondence with Frank Doel, a (married) bookseller in postwar London. The two wrote to each other for 20 years before Doel's death. They never met in person, and Hanff maintained a secondary friendship with Doel's wife and daughter.

If your friendship is functional, positive and doesn't negatively affect anyone else, then I'd say you should accept it as it is -- and enjoy it.

DEAR AMY: We are members of a dance group at the local senior centre. We welcome all comers, and have coffee after class to enjoy conversation together.

We have a new member who joined us for coffee. When she started to talk, she did not stop, and no one else got a chance to say a word, not even "goodbye." Gradually each of us just got up and left without a word.

I was the last one to leave, and she left with me, not seeming to realize what she had done to our chat time.

What can we do next week to prevent this from happening again? -- Speechless

DEAR SPEECHLESS: It is possible that this newcomer was nervous and engaged in anxiety-fuelled oxygen displacement to more or less plow her way through her first meeting.

If this happens after your next class, you might put your hand gently on her arm and say, "Sylvia, let me hop in for a minute; I'd love to hear what others have to say too. This is a great chance for all of us to take turns catching up." Then you pose a question to another person in the group, and hope that she settles down.

If she doesn't start modulating her behaviour with a subtle prompt, you (or someone else) will have to be more direct.


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