What to do when someone breaks up with you but wants to keep talking as friends

Aditya23 asks:  I’m a 17 year old boy with an 18 year old girlfriend. We’ve been dating three years now and our love has transformed from a childhood to a serious post teenage love. I really love her and want her in my life. She’s a bit childish and I love her like that. A few days ago I was with my dad and watching tv when she called me. I ignored the call and texted “I’m with my dad will call you in 5.” She kept calling again and again and when I finally picked up I told her (not in calm voice but not shouting too) “I told you I’m with my father, can’t you wait for a while.” She hung up and after few times the fight was sorted by simple sorry from both sides. Yesterday we had a small argument again, and after that she said she doesn’t love me like she used to before. The day I shouted on her left a negative impact on her and our love, and she wants to break up. She said she loves me but not like our love was before. She’s still constantly texting me and saying that we can still be friends. We had this breakup conversation at noon yesterday and since then she’s constantly calling me and asking me to talk – but not as a boyfriend anymore, just as a best friend. She’s still afraid of me shouting again and saying she never wants to date me again, as she has stopped feeling like dating me. I love her very much and I gave her time to relax and think, but she wants to talk to me but not as a boyfriend anymore. I really apologized for that day, but she’s saying she has stopped feeling that for me. I want her back in my life. Please help.

Hi Aditya23 –

I understand this very well, from both sides.  I have befriended dogs and humans, and at some point barked or even snapped at them, and then let them know all was fine, but they were angry or frightened, so much that we couldn’t become friends.

And I’ve also been with someone who scared me so badly that, no matter how nice they were to me afterwards, I couldn’t be as close or playful with them as before. 

So I get it.

But there’s one thing I haven’t done, in this situation.  I haven’t ever been so scared of someone I couldn’t bear to be with them, and then spent all my time reaching out to them and telling them over and over that I was keeping distant. 

That is something different!

And that behavior, her reaching out to you over and over to tell you that she just wants to be friends, makes me pretty optimistic for you!

It reminds me of a situation some years back.  Handsome, my human, was dating a wonderful woman with a cute five-year-old daughter, who adored me and called me “The Bestest Dog in the World!”  (Even Handsome had never called me that!)  She’d always wanted a father, and thought Handsome would make a very good one.  She actually wanted to tell people that he was her father.  But she knew she couldn’t do that.  So instead she would tell them that he wasn’t!.  Now that wasn’t a big problem if she was talking to her mommy’s friends, but when she started going up to strangers in parks saying “That man is not my father!” her mom had to stop her before someone called the police!

And your girlfriend is doing the same thing as that little girl.  If she’d really just felt she wanted to be friends and nothing more, she’d have said so and then acted more distantly from you.  Instead, she’d be avoiding you, and when you called her, trying to be extra-distant.

But she may not realize she’s doing this, any more than that little girl knew she almost put my guy in prison as a kidnapper!  And I think the reason she’s behaving this way is because she is so attached to you that she’s frightened – if someone she didn’t care much about yelled at her she might be fine, but I think she’s scared you’re beginning to reveal your true self to her.

So here’s my advice.  Accept her ‘friendship.’  Give her the space she needs.  But every time you talk, tell her again how sorry you are about what happened.  And even better, tell her that you’re working on yourself to make sure that you never do anything like that again to anyone.  That you’re talking to people about why you might have blown up that way, and how to control angry outbursts in the future.

And what you’ll really be doing is telling the frightened part of her that you are more trustworthy than anyone else she knows.  That anyone can blow up accidentally, but you are taking control of it.

You see, that’s the part of her you’re working on. Trying to get it to calm down and stop fearing you so much.

I don’t know how long that will take.  A week, a month, longer?  But she will learn to trust you if you keep it up.

And what to do then?  Well, I’d say to see where you two are then.  Will it have taken so long that you’ve lost interest in her?  Or will she have found a new boyfriend?

Or will you two both miss each other so much, and feel even more for each other than you did before, and collapse into each other’s arms in complete joy!

I don’t know.  But I do know that right now, trust is the only issue that matters.  And anything you can do to convince her you’re worthy of her trust is just what she needs.

Best of Luck!


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