Tebby asks: I broke up with my boyfriend 4 days ago, and the same day he called me several times and I hung up all his calls. Now I’m missing him a lot, and since then he’s never called again or checked up on me. I don’t know what to do, because I get tempted to call him, but deeply I just feel that if I do, he’ll never realize his mistakes and come back to fix anything; instead he will just become worse and take advantage. At times I even ask myself if he does miss me too, but why doesn’t he call – or maybe he just doesn’t care? I’m scared to make the first contact, because I don’t know what I’m expecting from him after that breakup. What should I do – because I need his attention?
Hi Tebby –
One of the toughest parts of growing up – for us dogs as well as you humans – is mastering empathy. Sometimes we’re too ‘nice,’ and all we do is what someone else wants. And that’s no way to live. Then other times we’re so caught up in our own views and struggles that we forget to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes (or paws) and try to understand their feelings.
One time that’s almost guaranteed for one, or both, of these to happen is during a breakup. I get lots of letters from people who are so obsessed with understanding the person who’s cheated on them, hit them, insulted them, that they haven’t taken a moment to sit back and say “Who cares how they feel? I hate being treated like this and I’m walking away!”
And then I get ones like yours, where you’re kind and loving, but completely missing the piece of understanding him.
You. Hung. Up. On. Him. Many. Times. After. Breaking. Up. With. Him.
He tried, over and over, and you hung up on him every time.
I think that’s the answer to every question you have. How does he feel? Why is he avoiding you? And most importantly – what would be best for you to do now?
He’s hurt. Very. He’s been shamed and shut off. And if you want to talk with him, the ONLY way is for you to reach out to him. Apologize for all those hangings-up, and tell him you want to talk.
Again, that’s not a suggestion on my part – I’m saying it’s the ONLY way you’re going to get anything out of him. He probably would love to talk with you, but he’s scared to call. I would be too! (If I bring a chew toy to a person and they refuse it, I’ll bring them something else, like a tennis ball. But if I bring toy after toy, and they angrily refuse me every time, I’ll stop bringing them toys!
Now there’s one part of your letter I don’t understand, though. You say you’re worried that, if you call, he won’t realize his mistakes or change. Now I don’t know what his mistakes were, but I do know this – he’s already changed! He’s changed by losing his girlfriend, and believing she doesn’t want to talk with him!
So the tennis ball (or chew toy) is in your court. But I think you’ve got a good chance of working this out. If you can call him and re-open the conversation, while making it clear that there were things you can’t accept from him in the future, this could work out.
But you’ll have to take charge. You’ll have to set the agenda.
In fact, isn’t that exactly what you want to do, what you broke up with him about? Your need for more of a say in this relationship?
So go for it! I’m behind you, my tail wagging in excitement!