Alison and Tony: Help! we have nothing left to say to each other! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my boyfriend and I have nothing to talk about. I met “P” in a chat room. We talked online many times and finally met in person. We seemed to have a lot in common and I really thought we might have something special going on, but we live 3-hours away by car and so we mostly just talk on the phone. We do call each other a few times a day and always in the evenings. At first we couldn’t seem to get off the phone–there was so much to talk about–but lately, it seems we can’t find anything to say to one another. Our conversations pretty much always end up being about how much we miss each other. Can someone really run out of things to talk about? Does it mean we wouldn’t be well suited if we can’t hold conversations on the phone?
Call me “Just Clammed Up”
Tony’s Take: You can run out of things to say, and unfortunately, many couples do. It is not due to lack of any interesting things in each other’s life, but rather a number of external factors which fortunately in your case can be corrected.
Conversation is driven off of shared experiences and unfortunately we have little sheets with check marks next to them in our brains about each thing we have discussed. Unless we generate new shared experiences by going and doing interesting things together or by sharing common cultural events such as movies or tv shows, we do not replenish the surface events which drive most of our conversations. The problem here is that one or both of you is not realizing the absolute fascination of the other person’s total life. By exploring the different parts of each other’s lives and discussing motivations, hurts, triumphs, sorrows, and other emotions, you deepen your knowledge of the other person, the other person feels special because they get to talk about themselves. Then, your life is filled with intellectual stimulation.
It is best if both parties can manage to draw each other out on these little things, otherwise you eventually do get to the point you are at now, where all the boxes are checked, and the only thing that is left is the wanting to fill the void — to fill the silence.
Alison’s Take: Perhaps you have nothing to talk about because you call each other so often that you have worn out your tongues and exhausted all of the possibilities!!! Although you might think that staying in touch all day long keeps you connected, talking too much can actually suck the life out of your relationship! I’m wondering how you get anything else accomplished?! If you cut back on the chatter to once a day, you’d be able to store up some topics of conversation. Your problem is a bit like being on social media too much. After a while you really are just posting things to blather mindlessly about your latest latte, instead of anything important or interesting.
That said, it is true as Tony says, that some couples do run out of topics of conversation, but these couples usually are people who have been together a long time and who have already pulled apart from one another. So they talk about mundane topics like the weather, what they want to eat for dinner tomorrow. their children, or family gossip. You and your boyfriend have just started dating! You should have many things to talk about, from discovering what your hopes and dreams are, to what your favorite music and foods are, to politics, and other more provocative issues. The issue probably isn’t that you have little in common or that you aren’t interesting to one another, but you talk so much in a day, you’ve overdosed on one another.
I disagree with Tony that the antidote to this is to watch television programs to keep the conversation flowing. Passive activities like this, especially if you are not together in the same room, won’t bond you and you’re not going to interact with one another. If you were a long term couple with absolutely nothing to keep you together except for the television shows you can watch together, I’d still feel sorry for you, although it might make a tenuous and week bond.
Since you don’t live close by and therefore don’t see each other, I am also assuming that you have not really developed any shared interests that you can talk about, but it is up to the two of you to find something that you can develop an interest in, long distance. That might something as simple as challenging each other to games like Words With Friends that you can interact with and discuss as the games progress. Use your imagination! However, if you can’t find a way to do this, it’s a sure sign, to me at least, that you probably would be better off with someone else.