phone tag hags

It’s come to this: sending emails and checking calendars, all to arrange a PHONE CALL. When did this begin? And when did I start playing by these rules? No one needs voicemail anymore with all the planned phone call dates happening lately. I see it clearly now. It doesn’t happen with my family, or the friends who live close by. "Phone dates" are planned across the country so I may catch up properly with some of my closest. Which is actually kind of sad. The whole point of friendship is being able to just phone out of the blue, to get advice quickly, or just to hear your voice. Let me also be clear on this: men are able to sustain their friendships just fine without making phone dates with one another. Why do so many women I know email to let you know they’ll call you later? The scheduled phone call, when not directly related to business, needs to stop because it’s turning friendships into clinical moments, and I hate it.



  1. While I agree that phone dates make friendship-keeping more of a hassle and sometimes an annoying thing on the to-do list to schedule around, I also admit that if it weren't for scheduled conversations, I probably wouldn't keep in touch as well with "Tier 2" friends(does that sound bad, I don't actually tier my friends, but it's easier for illustration); friends who used to be my best friends but, for reasons of geography or schedule, have drifted away. Even though it's annoying to have to organize friendships in such a Type-A way like that, it's worth it, in the end, I thiiink.

  2. I agree with the first comment. While it sounds silly to have to schedule a phone call, what with me never getting home before 7pm, and often later, and having friends who have families (well, children), there isn't necessarily a good time to call. Planning it in advance means I can make sure to finish eating/showering/etc before the planned call.

  3. Phone calls from friends? Oh – I remember them. I tell you what, if I don't schedule it within a gnat's eyelash, I wouldn't ever speak to anyone again outside of work, the fam and the darlings. This is an actual e-mail I sent last week…

    "Dear ____ – sorry I missed your last 800 voice mails, I haven't checked the home machine since March. I've got 17 minutes on Thursday between 2:03 and 2:20 – can I call you then? Love ya."

    Sadly, this is a true example, not an exaggeration. Sigh.

    In my book, the true test of a good friend is when you don't speak for several years, can pick up the phone in that sacred window and have it be like old times.

  4. This is something I've struggled with, too. And, although I understand being busy, I know darn well that many times "busy" means I just didn't rank high enough on the to-do list. That maybe I got beat out by watching the latest "The Hills" or a hike. And I get that. Downtime's important, too. I try not to take it personally. But eventually, if you don't at least schedule a phone call with me, I question our friendship. Or I sadly let go a 'tier 1' into a 'tier 2'. (And I sometimes miss the days where we could watch "The Hills" together…even if over the phone.)

  5. personally, i think you should really write a book, 3teens'mom. your life really sounds so interesting…

    i have the same problem as sk speaks of, esp. since i've lived in so many places, etc. yet, its even worse for me since i really don't like talking on the phone. needless to say, with a new baby, a house, a husband, and none of my own family around to help out, and friends spread out all over the west coast, east coast, and the south…i'm a mess.

  6. I find myself not only scheduling phone calls, but avoiding them – and sending texts or emails – because it's faster and doesn't require interaction. It's terrible, really. We're all on the way to becoming electronically-sustained hermits.

  7. "Let me also be clear on this: men are able to sustain their friendships just fine without making phone dates with one another."

    That's because their friendships aren't based on convo. Guys do stuff together and that's what bonds them. Women talk. It's the exchange of info that bonds us. "Gossip," as some researcher called it, is almost a biological imperative for us. (That piece of info got me off the hook!)

    Yeah, scheduling is new and it sucks, but it's better than not talking at all.

    Email is great, but lacks tone and it's mostly the exchange of facts. Sometimes, I want to wrap myself in a friend's voice and cradle in our love because there is NOTHING like a girlfriend.

    Like 3 teens' mom said, the truest test is years going by and vanishing in the moment you say hello.

  8. One of my oldest and dearest friends lives in Arizona and I live in Austin. For the past 8 years, our phone calls have gone from weekly to monthly to four times per year. It's her fault. She's a phone whore. She'll keep me on the phone for an hour. She doesn't know how to have a ten-minute conversation. So I have to schedule her in. I can't just call her on my way to the grocery story or on my drive home or when I'm doing laundry and want to quickly catch up. How I wish I could, but I'm 35, not 14, and talking on the phone to anyone including my boyfriend for an hour is about the last thing I want to do at the end of my work day or on my 'relaxing' weekends.

  9. I hate talking on the phone. HATE. I consider my college roommates to be my best friends, but since I live in NY and they live in DC and Michigan, we mainly correspond via e-mail, and I'm fine with that. The only person I call on a regular (and I mean once weekly) basis is my mom.

    With my friends in NY, I use e-mail to schedule drinks/happy hours. My main problem is that my friends don't mix well. (I know SK has spoken about this before) Like on SATC, I choose to keep my "Samantha" separate from my "Charlotte" and my "Miranda" because I know they won't really enjoy each others' company (and I don't want to be in the middle), but that means setting aside a lot more time to keep up with them all and feeling guilty for ditching my husband way more often, so sometimes it takes 2 weeks of e-mailing to find time to meet up.

  10. I HATE talking on the phone. Admittedly it became worse when the last job I had processing medical claims had me on the phone at least 50% of the time, and mainly there was a problem, so the caller was usually pissed off.

    Like a few readers here, I do have to schedule phone calls. At least 3 girlfriends, due to the length they like to chat. I love them and enjoy chatting, but day-to-day life with teens, a house, three cats, two that are kittens and high maintenance right now, and a husband who tops the priority list, makes endless chatting on the phone impossible. It took a few months, but each now know that night time phone calls are out. I'm home during the day, usually with kids in school, and it's perfect for me and my schedule. So we hunt out a day that is good for them. I know Wednesdays are my S-I-L, aka; my brother's wife. I know my longtime girlfriend Delta will call on her day off (whatever that may be) once a month.(Exchanging emails weekly) This call lasts well over an hour.
    My in-state g/f's know I hate the phone, so we use it mainly just to set up lunch dates, shopping etc. I prefer to visit with friends face-to-face, where I can enjoy their company, devoting my complete attn. on each of them.

    For me, setting priorities as a married, mother-of-three, does put friendships down further on the priority list. It doesn't mean I love them less, just that life takes over, and my family comes first. My alone time, I'm afraid rates higher on priorities than friendships these days. The friends I choose and who usually choose me as a friend, have similar priorities. We can go weeks without talking and pick up exactly where we left off, with no hard or hurt feelings involved.

    Girlfriends that are a little more high maintenance usually write me off fairly quickly. A few do so rather nastily I might add. I don't hold it against them, but this is an area I know will probably not change until my kids are grown and out of the house. (If then)

    Friendships are the icing on the cake of life. But they are not the cake. Please try not to read coldness in the tone of this comment; as it is not meant that way. It's just the facts. I love my friends, and we have a wonderful time when we get together. But as adults with children, a husband, and the nuance that goes with family life, friends fit in where we can fit them in. And they usually have the same attitude, which works for me.

    When I'm feeling sentimental; yes it is kind of sad that friendships are not the priority they once were. Those who are my friends today, do know that if there is crisis in their lives, I'm there for them. And there isn't a limit to what I would do for them. But casual phone calls don't fall under that category.

    Maybe I'm just in a different place in my life, than a lot of women. I came to realize when I moved from Washinton state, that the friendships I have there, will and have changed. Geography having the greatest impact.

    Now that I've rambled on, (sorry) I hope you find a way to sustain your friendships that are long-distance, that is satisfying for each of you. In today's rat-race of life, it does take some work. Finding the balance of how much work it takes for friendships and your day-to-day life is the trick. Balance being my never ending goal.


  11. I would hate phone dates too. That is ridiculous!

    I'm with yecats — not much of a phone person. And while I have lived in the same place (same state at least) all of my friends are scattered all over the country plus overseas.
    I'm also with yecats —- new baby, new house, husband, yadda yadda…..MESS! However, I'm blessed to have those kinds of friendships that pick up so effortlessly after years of not seeing each other.

  12. I think this is about organization, not about being too busy or hating the phone. Maintaining friendships is a skill and, like anything worth doing well, takes practice and effort.

    How many dear, dear friends you'd truly do "anything" for could anyone have? Whatever the number, they are Tier 1, as someone put it. Friends of long standing and intimacy whom you still enjoy, even occasionally – Tier 2. Neighbors, parents of your kids' friends, really nice acquaintances — Tier 3.

    E-mail is great for breezy hellos and what's new?s with those who like e-mail. A couple of phone calls a week to stay connected with the people who would do anything for you is not a big sacrifice, even if you have to do it from the bathtub, idling in the school pickup line, waiting for the dentist or on your lunch hour. Watching just two hours of crappy TV a night adds up to 14 hours a week that could be spent, in part, nurturing friendships.

    As for the woman who wishes her friends would limit their conversations to ten minutes … huh?!

    When my mother was widowed after 46 years of devoted marriage, she found out quickly how lonely it is when you've neglected your women friends. Husbands and kids are priorities for many of us, but woe to the woman who forgets that we usually end up without men at the end of our lives (if not before).

    Scheduling phone calls strikes me as a comparatively small evil. I wonder if e-mail and voice mail have not only robbed us of the ability (and desire) to write well, but even to speak to each other. Sad.

  13. I moved from Ohio to California 5 years ago. Email has been my salvation for keeping in touch with my friends. And yes, I do schedule phone calls with one friend–the time difference and the fact we both have other obligations makes this the easiest way to do it. We don't plan the time to the MINUTE–it's "hey I'll be at home most of Sunday afternoon, call and if I'm in the middle of something I'll let you know." We both get that and are comfortable with it. And the friends I don't schedule calls with are comfortable telling me they're busy right then, too. We'll win the tag game and usually do within a day or two.

    And if it's an emergency call, we know that the person on the other end of the phone will MAKE the time right then for us. We're girl friends; it's what we DO.

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