Should you show sympathy to your ex who dropped you?

Aishwarya asks: My boyfriend left me few weeks back. And now he texted me that his dad is not well and uncle is on deathbed. Should I show him some sympathy?

Hi Aishwarya –


This is a fascinating question, so great I have three different answers for it, depending on different situations.  I wish I knew enough to give you just one, because they’re all pretty different.  But hopefully this will help.


Okay, first situation:  You’re close with his family.

If you actually have/had a relationship with his father and/or uncle, where they were important in your life, and you in theirs, then I would say absolutely that you should deal with your ex, and with them.  Simply because you’d feel very bad if you didn’t and things got worse with them.  In fact, I often see some cruelty on the part of exes, keeping someone who cares a lot about their family from them, with the mindset “If you’re not my boyfriend/girlfriend anymore, you can’t have any connection with them either!”  So if you’re close with, say, his dad, I think it shows good character on your ex’s part that he reached out to you.


Second situation: You’re not close with them, but he’s trying to be a friend to you.

If that’s what’s going on, that he’s just telling you his “news,” and another time he might be telling you “I got a car” or “I broke my leg,” then it’s really your call.  Do you want to be friends with him now, or not?  I’ve seen couples break up and become fantastic friends, and I’ve seen other cases where one member correctly realizes that they just can’t do well in life while creating a new, friendly relationship with their ex.  The answer is up to you, to do what’s best for you.  In this situation, the dad and uncle don’t expect or need your attention; so you get to treat the guy you loved who broke things off in whatever way feels right.  To you.


Third situation: He’s playing a manipulative game.

Sometimes people feel bad about breaking up with someone, but then instead of calling them to apologize, or trying to help them get through it, they pull a manipulative stunt to try to make the jilted one feel sorry for them, as if to say “You don’t have the right to feel bad, because look at what I’m going through!”  If this is the case, then no you don’t owe him sympathy, or the time of day.  He’s trying to ignore your feelings and make everything about himself.  Now you can still respond to him with something like “I’m sorry about your uncle, and hope your dad feels better soon,” and leave it at that if you like.  But don’t let him take the fact that he hurt you out of the equation.  Even if he was right to break things off.

And here’s the funny part about that.  If he is  doing the third situation, playing this passive-aggressive manipulative game, you are SOOOO MUCH better off that you’re out of that romance!  If he’d do it to you now, he’d certainly have done it to you in the relationship, as it continued.

So breathe a sigh of relief, and know he just showed you who he really is, and that you “dodged a bullet,” as they say!


We dogs are naturally very sympathetic.  We respond a lot when the people near us are in pain.  So I’m all for you having that, regardless of which situation this is.

But we dogs also never fake or lie.  So when I see a person doing it, it makes me angry.


And… those are my best answers.  I hope they help!


All my best,


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