Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice, that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
My cousins and I were all having dinner the other night and my cousins guy decided to pull out his phone and do…I don’t know what for the rest of the meal. We tried to pull him into conversation, which worked about as well as pulling a tigers teeth while it’s awake. We have a rule about no phones at the table. He completely disregarded it that night. We all tried to get him off of it and focused back on family time. My brother actually threatened to take his phone. He stayed glued to it the rest of the night. We ended up playing cards and board games the rest of the night without him. How do you keep your significant other’s attention for any length of time?
Dear Feeling Ignored,
I apologize that your guest behaved this way, disregarding the rules of the house and disrespecting the hosts, as well as his girlfriend, who might be embarrassed.
My family had a zero tolerance policy for houseguests who did ANYTHING the hosts disagreed with. If somebody came to see the matriarchs in my family, and erred, they got bitched out right in front of everybody, and were bashed for weeks following. You might imagine we had no repeat offenders.
That always worked beautifully, so I have continued it in my own home. I call this practicing “Bitchcraft.”
Like the matriarchs who raised me, I LOVE to have company, and try very hard to do all I can to pamper my guests. But there have been times when people forgot to be courteous in return, and outstayed their welcome. I always let them know specifically what bothered me, and I have written people off who I felt regularly violated the sanctity of my home or did not care that they were disrespectful.
I also did not grow up in a generation where we all had our cellphones. We did have telephone and TV, but for gatherings, TV was switched off and nobody picked up the phone if it rang if the host did not want distractions. I can’t remember anybody violating this…because the women in my family practiced Bitchcraft.
I come from a long line of scary bitches.
Optional responses would depend on a lot of things.
- Does said cousin want to keep this guy around? If so, have her speak with him and make an agreement to leave the cell phone in the other room or in the car when he visits family. Some families have a special basket or box that all cell phones go into before the meal starts, or you can have people simply switch their phones off. Anybody who does not respect this rule does not get invited back.
- Having your brother take the guys phone is something I think is reasonable, and I don’t see an issue with it, personally.
- The cousin could simply let the guy do it if talking does not help and go out of her way to ignore him sometime when he wants attention- and tell him this is how he makes her feel when he is more interested in his phone than she and her family. If he’s a decent human being this should jolt him into compliance.
What to do to hold the attention of somebody ignoring you? I would refuse to get together with them, and/or dump them immediately. Nobody is so desperate that they have no options but to settle for being treated this way. Realistically, we all have moments when we are engrossed in something- but this sounds like a deeper issue. If it was not a one-time thing, and it continues, it will likely mean this is how the guy is. Your cousin then has to decide if she wants to share her life with somebody who is this disrespectful and uninvolved in her family.
As to the family hosting, they are allowed to ask him to leave if he does this again, or put up with it if they prefer.
Truthfully, though, I do not have to do anything special to hold my significant other’s attention. That is why he is my significant other. He likes me and can’t get enough of me. The image of the guy plopped down on the couch watching TV, reading the paper, or playing a game or surfing the Internet or texting and ignoring the women he is involved with is a very real thing, unfortunately, and not just an unfair stereotype. It is part of the reason so many of my lady friends are single. We don’t HAVE to have a man to survive anymore. Guys like your cousin’s beau are putting themselves out of the gene pool one bone brained shitty thing at a time.