Mandhie asks: I have had crushes on other guys that last for a few days, but I have liked this one guy for five good years. At times, I can feel he likes me, and at others, I feel he doesn’t. Recently, I asked him to come over and he did. We took pictures, and I walked him about halfway home, till I got tired. The next day, I sent him one of the pictures we took, and asked him if I could use it as my Facebook profile picture. He said I should never do it, so I said okay. Then, I sent the picture to his “school father” (it is something playfully done in schools in my country; they act like your caretakers in school. Now the whole point is that people tease us both that we like each other. I like him, and I know he likes me, but he hasn’t confessed anything to me – and as I said before, he gives me mixed signals. So now, he is angry with me because I sent that picture to the other boy. Now, I don’t know why I sent the picture, and seriously speaking, I like it when people tease us; and that was what I wanted, for the boy to tease me to make me feel like he likes me, but it didn’t go the way I planned. He saw it on Facebook (because another friend of his school father took a screenshot of the picture and put it online). And now as I am writing, we are not talking, and it hurts. I have said I’m sorry a thousand times, but he is neither replying to my messages nor calling me. I have offended him before, and I feel so bad because I feel the way he feels for me might change. I know he likes me because he acts shy and doesn’t look at my face when we are talking, but I do look at his face. I don’t even understand why he is so offended! You have no idea how I feel right now; I am afraid he will be taken away by another girl. I love him so much. Please help. I don’t want him to leave my life.
Hi Mandhie –
Mandhie, I won’t pretend to understand nuclear physics – no dog does. But I know that the basis of the atom bomb came when humans learned how to split an atom, which then set off energy that split the atoms around it, and those the atoms around them, and so on, creating enough energy to destroy a city. All from the energy inside a tiny weensy atom.
Well, my dear friend, that little picture was just an atom, but it seems that, in this boy’s world, you set off an atom bomb!
You say in your letter that I have no idea how you feel. Actually, I probably have a pretty good sense of it (kind of like the day I, as a puppy, felt like chewing on something and found a piece of cardboard very handy, only to discover later that it was the cover of a decades-old record album that Handsome really treasured, as he screamed as he grabbed me and heaved me through the air). What I don’t have a good sense of is what this boy is feeling.
Why is he so upset? Is he just super-private? Is he worried because he likes another girl and doesn’t want it to look like you and he are a couple?
Is he embarrassed, because he likes you and doesn’t like having his feelings shared around publicly?
From what you say, I think there’s a really good chance that the last idea I mentioned is the case. It sounds like he’s shy and nervous around you, and liked spending that time with you at your house. So it’s probably that he just wasn’t ready at all for that picture to be made public.
It’s also very possible that he feels you went against his request, though you only sent the picture to his friend, and didn’t actually post it on Facebook yourself.
Regardless, there’s enough feeling inside him that this little act of yours has blown up into something that’s (temporarily) ruined your friendship. So you’re very right to ask… What To Do?!
Well, I only really have one suggestion, and that is to do a mixture of giving him space and apologizing. You say you’ve said you’re sorry a thousand times. Well, then maybe he’s heard it enough, and you need to give him a day or two without hearing from you. But not too many – just one or two. Then I think the thing to do is to give a different kind of apology.
Now this part is really important. Lots of people will give an apology, but what they’re really saying is “I want you to forgive me and move past this and be nice to me again.” And while there’s nothing bad about that sentiment, it’s not a full-on apology. Here’s what one of those looks like:
Handsome, I am horribly sorry I ate your record album cover. I wasn’t fully thinking at the time, but now, after lots of looking at what I did, I realize that this is very painful to you, and that I ruined something you can never get back. I have learned my lesson, and will never do such a thing to anyone ever again. I will understand if you never want to pet me again, or if you even want to take me back to the pound. But even if you bring me back into your home and your trust, I will never forget how bad I feel about this today. Please know that I’d do anything to turn back the clock, as I never wanted to hurt you in any way.
Now that’s an apology!
The thing about this sort of apology, you’ll see, is that it doesn’t ask for anything. It also doesn’t make any assumptions about the other person (except that I caused pain, which we know is the case). The joke is that, by not asking for them to forgive you, this sort of apology is the kind that most achieves just that! They feel heard and understood, and most of all, that you’ll listen to them next time. In fact, in a funny way, this will create the most intimate moment you two have ever had!
Now again, Mandhie, I don’t know this boy. Maybe he’s so upset you have lost his friendship forever. But I doubt it. Most likely, he was just really bothered by feeling he had no control over what happened with that picture. After all, that’s the thing about Facebook – any posting can suddenly be seen by anyone anywhere, so it’s a little scary!
So I would suggest, again, just give him a little space, then give him a real apology – and then see what happens.
Oh, and one other thing. If, after this, he writes, or calls, or walks up to talk to you – thank him. Let him know that it means a lot to you that he’s doing that. In other words, continue showing the regret that you show in the apology. Make sure that he knows that you will never ever take his forgiveness for granted.
And then… well, you know that record cover I chewed up? There’s a song on that album that says something really marvelous about this. It goes, “And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” And you’ll be making a lot by treating him this way.
In fact, just by the remorse and worry you show in your question to me, you already are.
Best of Luck my friend!
Well you can’t make him not be mad at you, so give him space and time, and he might come around. Plus, even if you like the teasing, you should ask them to stop. While waiting, focus on other things. Then, if it does not work, it’s time to accept that it’s over – I AM SORRY!