Dear Carolyn: I recently found out that my boyfriend deletes all his emails, including ones from me.
I was a bit hurt and upset because we’ve had some heartfelt email exchanges. I’ve poured hours of thought into our correspondences.
Admittedly I am somewhat of a sentimentalist.
When I asked him the reason, he said the messages themselves don’t matter so much, it’s the feelings they bring out. I can’t believe he doesn’t value our correspondences enough to keep them. Since then, I’m having a hard time writing to him at all, knowing my message will eventually be deleted.
I don’t want this to be an issue, and I don’t care about his email management per se, but it’s been on my mind for longer than expected. Advice? – C.
You do realize, I think, that what you have isn’t just an email-sav(or)ing difference but a difference in the way you live your emotional lives. That’s why you haven’t been able to shake this off as you expected you would – and that’s why it is an issue, even though you don’t want it to be.
For a sentimental person to pair off happily with an emotional modernist, both need to feel gratitude for the difference, versus pain or contempt, and neither one can harbor the goal of changing the other’s approach.
The way people show affection isn’t in itself a measure of how much affection they feel – effusive gestures can be empty, of course, and quiet ones both powerful and profound. He could be archiving emotions just as you tuck away mail. But believing this intellectually isn’t enough: The quality of his affection has to be there, as does your ability to appreciate the way he chooses to show it.
The clearest way to judge these is to see whether each of you is getting what you want and need from the other. How you measure that is up to you, with only one ground rule: You can tell someone what you want, but you can’t tell anyone what to give.