He has a disappearing act

Found out last night that if you use the code LANDERS to buy tickets to "The Lady With All The Answers," there's a discount. Sorry I didn't mention it yesterday. I didn't know. Again, Miss Conduct and I are at the Saturday show. And it looks like the Love Letters/Extra Bases event on June 4 will involve batting cages. Hmmm. Exciting.
Hi Meredith, My boyfriend and I are both 30 and have been together for just about a year. We've taken our time getting to know each other and I feel that we have a solid relationship. Our lives fit well together. We have fun and seem to be on the same page as far as our future. It's not a passionate, page-turning romance a la Danielle Steele, but it is a comfortable intimate relationship that relies on common interests, laughter, and genuine affection. I truly look forward to seeing him and get butterflies when his name pops up on my phone or in my inbox. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of grilled cheeses and such! But I know there is more to it than physical attraction. My problem is this: every once in awhile he disappears on me. Most recently, it happened over this past weekend and two weeks prior to that as well. We had gone out one night last week and had a great time. We emailed about a couple of silly things after that and made tentative plans for dinner or a show on Saturday night. So Saturday afternoon rolls around, I call and leave a message to see what the plan is for the night. Four hours later, still no response. Now it's been two days, and I'm wavering between anger, sadness, and worry because I still haven’t heard from him. However, I know what is going to happen. I'm going to get a call from him tonight saying that he knows he should have called, that he is very sorry. This has happened four or five times over the course of our relationship. I've told him that it really bothers me that he doesn't at least touch base with me and return my call ... especially when we had plans to hang out. His excuse for not calling is never a good one -- it's always that he was exhausted or just down and didn't want to see anyone. He's been really busy at work, so I know that he needs some downtime to himself. But I just think that it is selfish to go MIA on someone who is supposedly such an important part of your life. My question is this: how many times do I let him do this before enough is enough? When it happens, I feel like he doesn’t care about me, like I'm not important to him, like I can't rely on him ... and when I'm really feeling insecure, like maybe he is spending his weekends making grilled cheese with someone else. Except for these few instances, I have no doubt that he cares about me and sees a future for us. And it is mind-boggling that he continues to do this when he knows how hurtful it is. I don't want to give up on something that feels right 95 percent of the time just because that 5 percent feels so awful.

– Crazed and Confused, Boston

You're dating a moody guy who likes his alone time, CAC. Fine, if you can deal with that. There are worse things, for sure. The best thing you can do is to sit him down again and make some specific rules for his behavior. Cancelling is OK every now and then. Disappearing is not. You need a heads up. You need a code phrase that lets you know that his sudden need for space isn't about you. As in, "Hey honey, I'm having one of my weird nights. I'm going to watch bad TV for six hours and go to sleep. Can I make it up to you tomorrow?" To be clear, these weird nights are excusable if they only happen occasionally. The thing is, by disappearing and not telling you what he's doing and why, he's basically crying out for attention, probably unintentionally. He's making you dance around and worry. All of your attention winds up on him. If he really wants space every now and then, it's in his best interest to tell you as much as he can so you can go do your own thing and not worry about it. And if he gets used to that routine, it will be a bit easier for him to communicate his need for space when he lives with you. Because that's the goal, right? Tell him that if he doesn't want attention during these occasional moody spells, he needs to explain everything and make you feel at peace. Again, moody is OK. Selfish disappearances are not. I think that if he wants you around, he'll learn to play by the rules. You just have to explain them. Readers? Is this about being moody and tired or is it something more? Is the 5 percent going to ruin the 95? Are these disappearances cries for attention? Discuss.

– Meredith