Category Archives for "Featured Questions"

Juicybest asks:

I’ve been single for some months now but there are two guys currently trying to get me to be their partner. I’m confused on who to choose, because frankly speaking I don’t want a boyfriend.  Just one whom I could end up getting married to.  And they are both sweet people. Is there anyway or anything I could do to know who amongst them is the best choice for me?

Hi Juicybest –

Thanks for your question about the two guys.

I’m very glad that both these guys are sweet people, because you deserve to be treated well!  But I’m going to disagree with your question.

You ask me which of them “is the best choice for me.”  But I don’t know if either of them is.  Does one of them make you laugh so hard things come out of your nose?  Does one live a life you find inspiring?  Does one treat someone in his life so well that you know he’d make a good partner for you, or perhaps even a great father to your children?  Does one love (or at least tolerate) the music and movies and books that matter most to you?  Does one of them treat your family members well?  And maybe most important of all, does one make you feel excited at the prospect of seeing him?

If you were stranded on a deserted island, then yes, I’d agree that you’d have to decide between these two guys.  But you’re on a planet with over three billion male humans!  And you’re asking which of these two is the right one for you? 

Maybe one is just that great.  Or maybe both are – I don’t know.  But my advice is to enjoy their attention and see if, at some point, one of them gets you flipped.  Until then, I’d worry that you’d just get involved with this guy and then meet someone else who does knock you out, which would only result in hurting a good guy.

I know you’re tired of being single, but treat yourself with enough love and honor to wait for someone great enough to deserve you!

All my best,

Shirelle

How to get over someone who treats you badly

Blessing special asks:

How do I get over someone I really like?  After we spent time for the first time (cause we have been talking for a while), we finally met through a friend of mine – but even before we met he didn’t want any strings attached even though we liked each other. And then it wasn’t all good because he’s this kind of bossy type that always wants to do all the talking and giving out instructions. I always try not to make mistakes because he doesn’t hesitate to judge my mistake or point it out, but I really liked him because he was cool. As well we had some great moments, but when I got back he no longer talked or called me as before. When I asked, he said I wasn’t the vibe he needed, and it really hurt me so much!  I have been trying to get over it!

Hi Blessing special –

I have seen this same situation so many times.  We dogs tend to fall in love with whoever takes care of us, but you humans have a crazy tendency to fall in love with people who treat you horribly!  I’ve seen it in so many letters, and even at home.  I remember a few years back, Handsome was just nuts about this woman who had many wonderful qualities but treated him horribly (not abusive, just pulling him in, pushing him away, back and forth).  Eventually she broke up with him and he was simply devastated.  A friend of his said the words I couldn’t speak, “I know you’re heartbroken, but I have to say I’m glad she left you.  I couldn’t stand to watch her keep hurting you anymore.” 

So lots of people will tell you their suggestions on how to get over this guy.  “Eat a tub of ice cream.”  “Go out with ten other guys.”  “Dye your hair light green.”  I can’t say which of these will help or won’t, but I do know that the only way you’ll truly get over him is to make a change in your attitude toward yourself, where you say, “It doesn’t matter how great he is in other regards.  I deserve someone who treats me well.” 

And what does “treat well” mean to you?  Does it mean showering you with jewelry and flowers?  Writing you love songs?  Taking you out lots to help you escape from the boredom of your job?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I can tell you what it doesn’t include: “No strings attached,” bossing you around, judging your mistakes, ghosting you, or saying “you’re not the vibe I need!”  In other words, you deserve someone who’s at least better than this guy!

Blessing special, you are a special blessing!  Any guy who can’t see that isn’t worthy of you.  And the only one making you be in relationships that feel bad is you. 

So my answer is to like yourself better, and value yourself more.  You wouldn’t accept a person kicking a dog, so why would you accept a guy who treated anyone that way, especially you?

You deserve better.  If you don’t know it yet, take my word for it.  You do.

And the day you learn that is the day you’ll be over him – and anyone else like him – forever!

Here’s hoping it’s soon!

Shirelle

How to stop overthinking

Alllyyyy asks:

I’m a overthinker. I always overthink in every situation. My mind is always disturbed by this overthinking.  Nowadays I’m not able to sleep properly either, from this overthinking.  Please suggest to me what to do.

Hi Alllyyyy –

I have to admit, to us dogs’ eyes, all you humans overthink all the time! That’s one of the biggest differences between us. 

But maybe it’s better to say, you guys think way too much about the wrong things!  See, we dogs don’t have a big sense of the past or future, not nearly as much as you with your gigantic brains.  We stay centered in the moment.

Just as an example, imagine someone gives you a big piece of pizza.  Your mind is going to go ten directions at once:  “Wow, I love pizza!  Yum!” “Why did they give it to me?  Do I trust them to not be drugging or poisoning me with it?”  “If I don’t eat that now, they’ll take it away and I’ll never get it!”  “If I eat it, I’ll gain weight.”  “I wonder if this is as good as the pizza I had at that place on Main Street I loved so much.  I wonder if they’re still in business.  I need to find out.  Maybe if so, I can go there next week.  But who would I take?  Maybe that new coworker who’s so cute?  But I don’t know if I’m good enough for…”

Now, do you know where our minds go?  “YUM!”  And it’s gone!  No more thinking, no more questions! 

Now does that mean it’s easier to sneak a drug into our food than yours?  Sure!  That’s how Handsome gives me my supplements every day (but don’t tell him I’m onto him please)!  But yes, that also means it’s easier to hurt us than you.  And also, our way of thinking would never get us a date with that new coworker, or even finding out if that pizzeria is still around.

So your thinking has a lot of strengths, and there’s no reason to try to stop them.   Most of the time!

But sometimes, you do need to just give it a rest.  To live in the present, to center yourself in your body, to empty your brain of all…

Is this sounding like something familiar to you?

Yes, my friend, I’m going to recommend you try meditating.  I’m not pushing any religious or spiritual agenda on you, but if you can spend even two minutes every morning just closing your eyes, sitting still, and focusing on your breathing, that’ll be great.  If thoughts come to you, let them be there and go, and refocus on breathing in and out.  And if you have a little more time, try shifting your focus to what you’re seeing (I know your eyes are closed, but what designs or light do you see while there?), smelling, tasting, hearing, and touching.  And with each, putting your attention fully onto that sense.

See what you’ll have done?  You’ll have stopped those thinking wheels in your brain for just a few minutes.  And worked to build your brain’s “muscle” of being in the moment, focusing on just what’s there.

The strength you’ll develop from this won’t be that you get stupid or thoughtless.  Rather, it’ll be that you can direct your focus away from “overthinking” when that helps you.  To slow down panicky worrying, to stop yourself from ruminating over useless questions (which, in my experience of people, usually begin with “Does he/she like me?  What did he/she mean when…”)!!

Doing this won’t solve everything, but it will definitely help.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

And if that works, maybe you’ll learn our incredible ability to block out all thoughts but one for hours on end, usually involving staring at a tree and waiting for a squirrel to walk back down it!  Now that is a glorious mental skill!

All my best,

Shirelle

Should one commit to a relationship that’s about to become long-distance?

Goku asks:

My college is almost about to end.  All my life I’ve been into terrible relationships. I have an amazing best friend who supported me throughout and helped me get through. She went through a break up 6 months ago, for a lot of reasons, but main one being she wasn’t that into him, she says she distanced herself from him cause she knew that they don’t have a future since she’ll be soon leaving the country for higher studies.  Let’s name this guy “Y”. During this her ex, let’s name him “X,” who she dated 3 years ago came back. It looked like she had never gotten over him and jumped into a relationship with Y (from what I know, X was into a lot of trouble, trying to figure out things in his life, and since there was no communication, she started seeing Y; when she made out with Y she broke up with X), and till date is guilty of not being there for him.  Now when he came back she went crazy behind Y’s back, and kept drunk calling X. I was being supportive while he randomly ghosted her or avoided her. But a few months ago, when she was getting better with the whole thing, we had a moment and from then on we started making out almost every day and now we are physically involved, I had never known that I have feelings for her, and we decided we’d just have a few months, after which we’ll be in different time zones, different countries, so we’ll go with the flow and not give any tag to our bond since we’re best friends before anything else and we can’t ruin that. But 2 months ago X again texted her saying that he was hurt the first time she left him so that’s why he was pushing her away, and now he wants to give it a try, even though she’s leaving this country. He said he’ll make things better. She said we’ll see, and assured me that right now she’s sure nothing will happen, but in the future if he becomes the person he used to be she might go with him.  Well, that hurts! Now they talk every day for hours on video call or normal call and he hits on her casually, breaking my heart. I’ve told her that it hurts and every time we have this conversation it doesn’t end up well. She’s involved with me emotionally and physically and says doesn’t want to lose me. She can stop talking to him for me but I can’t let that happen no matter how badly I want it, because I don’t want to bind her or stop her, I want her to do what makes her happy. Every time I try to get myself better something happens, either he flirts with her or she casually tells me how in future they could be together, and it breaks my heart every day, I have anxiety and she knows that in my past I’ve been betrayed a lot. I am so scared, I don’t want to lose her, and when I spoke to her about it, she said I overthink a lot and she’d prefer not talking about him with me (while before she would tell me about their conversations). Now I travelled all the way to her place with her, celebrated Valentine’s Day with her, and right after that she said she’ll meet him once and maybe stay at his place for one night.  She said she isn’t sure that something wouldn’t happen between them and she wants to be honest with me so if there’s even a 0.1% chance, she wants me to know it’s possible. I couldn’t sleep the whole night. Then, seeing that, she said she won’t meet him, nothing will happen, and she’ll stop talking to him – but in an annoyed tone. I don’t want to stop her from talking, but how is this fair to me, that while she’s with me (even without a tag) she could even think of having a moment with someone else? She says she’s complicated and she knows she’s hurting me, and doesn’t want to lose me ever. I don’t know what to do. I try to communicate with her every day, sometimes the conversation goes well, and sometimes it turns ugly and then I have to set it right. I’ve started hating X and now even if she mentions him it hurts so bad. I want to stop thinking about him or their conversations or what’ll happen when they meet. I told her about this and she said she’ll meet him but she won’t do anything because she doesn’t want to ruin things between us, but that she even had a thought bothers me. I don’t know what to do, it’s so messed up. I feel so overwhelmed and anxious, I just feel like running away. She hates it when I get upset over this, and tries to make me feel better, and even says she’s ready to give it all away, but I don’t want that. I want her to do what she wants.  Please help me, I have 3 months left with her and I want to make the most out of it, and that makes me anxious, that this will come to an end. We’ll be best friends forever but this that we have will end. I don’t know how to stop overthinking (or am I even overthinking?). I love her and that’s all I know.

Hi Goku –

Wow!  That’s a lot you’re going through!  I really have two responses to it, but first I have to say that I absolutely adore the phrase you used, “not give any tag to our bond.”  You see, I literally have tags to my bond with my human friend Handsome, and wear them on my collar!  So yeah, I love that term!

Okay, so first of all, there is no question in my mind that this girl is very afraid of full commitment right now.  The way she’s treated all three of you guys tells me so.  X may have not been the perfect boyfriend, but if she really wanted to be with him she’d never have gotten involved with you; Y really seems to have been left in the dust; and she is playing with you like a yo-yo: pull you in, spin you out, pull you in, spin you out, etc!  Now I’m not judging her; she’s young and there’s no reason why she ought to be committing fully to anyone just yet, but I might be inclined to say that she’s not a good match for you, as you are clearly someone who gets much more attached.

However…!

There’s another side to this.  You say that you and she will be living in different time zones in three months.  You even say, “knowing that I have 3 months makes me anxious, that this will come to an end we’ll be best friends forever but this that we have will end.”  Well, my sense is that you’re right to be anxious!  In fact, I’ll agree with you that what’s going on between the two of you is guaranteed to end in three months!  Or, better put, it will change in three months.

My friend, your job right now is to take care of yourself.  She’s doing just that for herself, and apparently doing a pretty good job of it.  She’s protecting herself from getting too attached to you or X, and only struggling with the fact that she sees she’s hurting you.  You need to do just what she’s doing, but in the way that works for you.

What would that be?  Might the best thing be for you to pull away from her and let her figure out what she wants for her future?  Might the best thing be for you to insist that she spend the next three months with you and stop trying to be so nice by giving her space to make her own decisions?  Might the best thing be for you to kidnap her and X, and put them in separate cells in a dungeon, telling her she can only be freed when she agrees to marry you, and until then you’ll starve him to death? 

Okay, so number three is NOT a good idea; I’ll accept that!

My main point here, Goku, is that she’s not wrong.  She’s acting in a very rational way for someone in her position.  While you, you wonderful romantic, are behaving in a way that would make total sense if no one were about to move, but you’re not facing up to the fact that something is about to change in a big way.

What I think would be especially great, whatever else you do, would be to have a good talk with her about what sort of relationship you two would like to have after college.  Maybe being best friends for a while isn’t a bad idea – you both know how easy it would be to shift that back into a romance if that becomes possible again.  Or maybe you want to try to get her into a committed long-distance relationship, and maybe she’d be up for it (particularly if X hurts her feelings again).  Or maybe you want to take care of yourself by getting space from each other, and not hearing about what she’s doing with other guys so you can move forward in your own life.

But what you need is to decide.  And in that sense, I’m going to disagree with her full-out: you need to think more!  Think hard, and think clearly.  If you can get away and go sit on a hillside or a beach for a few hours, that’d be great.  Really think about what you want to achieve in the next chapter of your life.  And whether you’d like to be free to get involved with other girls, or try to commit to her. 

Truly there’s no wrong choice for you to make (other than that kidnapping thing).  You guys have your whole lives in front of you, and any decisions can be changed over time. 

But you need to pick something now.  Knowing that you love her and she loves you, and that you’ll be far apart, and that she is who she is at this time.  What will be best for you?  Choose that, bring it up to her, and see how she responds.

And as long as you two stay as honest and good as you are now, all will be okay. 

Wishing you all the best,

Shirelle

How to cope with the effects of a traumatic experience.

Shelby asks:

My life was normal until I was on my way to work, waiting for my shuttle service, and my phone got snatched. I have been living at my parents’ for so many years. But that night changed my life. I am so thankful that the robbers did not hurt me physically and just took my phone. Along with my phone is my ID which contains my photo, address, birthday etc. Ever since then, I’ve felt like someone is watching me always and is waiting for the chance to harm me again. And worst, I always feel like there are some people who will hurt my child too. I lost trust in everyone and I feel like any of them might harm or hurt my child or me. I can’t sleep, I can’t focus on my job. Please help me find the way to cope.

Hi Shelby –

You are dealing with something very specific, called Trauma.  People often refer to it as PTSD, meaning Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I don’t know that you’re having a real “disorder.”  You just are in the effects of this awful trauma.

Now let me make something clear about this – Trauma is not about what happened to you; it’s about the effect it had on you.  So when someone tells you, “You’re overreacting – lots of worse things happen to people every day,” it’s not that they’re exactly wrong, but they’re missing the point!  Yes, some people would order a new phone and shrug this experience off.  But they’re not you.  This incident cut to your core, making you distrustful of everyone and frightened of life.  The word psychologists use is “Hypervigilant,” meaning you’re always on the watch, and can’t relax and enjoy your life.

There are many treatments out there for trauma.  For some people, some deep breathing is enough.  For others, a massage, a glass of wine, and a good talk with a caring friend works.  Or of course I’m going to suggest a dog – both for the calming walks and for the barking protector with big teeth!

But for others, those aren’t enough.  There are psychotherapists everywhere who specialize in methods of trauma-reduction.  For some people, fascinating methods like specialized tapping on their face and body, or eye movements, can help heal the damage the trauma did to their nervous system.  For others, it might be a more in-depth work (perhaps the robbery triggered a memory in you of another violation to your safety when you were young, and accessing that memory will relieve your more recent anxiety).

I’m a pretty happy pup, and have likely caused more traumas than I’ve suffered!  But I have a few slight cases.  For example, when I was a puppy, Handsome tried to befriend me to a medium-sized long-haired black dog he loved, who attacked and tried to kill me before he got me away from her.  I was okay, but to this day, when I see a long-haired black dog bigger than me, I instantly fall onto my back and pee submissively, from the deep-seated terror in my memory.

There’s nothing wrong with your mind, Shelby.  You’re sane and smart.  But this incident has caused you the same sort of damage another person might get from an attack, a car accident, or being near a bomb explosion.  

I urge you to find a therapist of some sort to help you through this.  You’re not wrong to be bothered by being robbed, but you want to live a happier life in the future, and good trauma treatment can get that for you.

(Though I still say buying a dog is a GREAT idea as well!)

All my very best,

Shirelle

What to do when someone won’t forgive you for a small mistake

Lilly asks:

I have asked you many questions about my relationship. My problem that I don’t know what is going on.  I can’t get over him; I love him so much and need him back in my life, but he doesn’t want me.  He thinks I am not good enough for him. He thinks I am bad. He still asks why I wasn’t there when he needed me… weeks after the issue happened. Today I asked him to just stay with me and hold my hand; he refused and then blocked me!  What should I do to have conversations with him?  I love him and want him back in my life.

Hi Lilly –

Okay, so he’s making himself clearer and clearer to me.  Here’s the awful fact – he’s simply not good enough for you!

I know it feels like it’s the other way around, and you’re the one who’s not good enough.  But that’s simply not true. 

When I was a puppy, I was very disobedient, and broke all sorts of rules all the time.  Handsome would get annoyed, or even angry, and discipline me.  If you saw us then, you’d say “maybe that puppy’s not good enough for him!” 

But if he were meaner than that – if he would beat me with a belt or a stick, or starve me in the yard for days on end, all in response to exactly the same behavior from me, you’d say “That guy’s awful, and not good enough for that mischievous puppy!”  And you’d be right.

Your ex (yeah I’m calling him that now) is being a JERK!  You’ve tried very hard to make up for what was a pretty minor mistake, and to show that you wouldn’t do it again – and he’s not even willing to listen.  I know he went through a bad time, but he’s putting you through one too!

And here’s my big point – I don’t want you getting used to being treated like that!  I don’t want ANYONE getting used to that sort of abuse (and yes I’m calling it abuse!), any more than you’d want a puppy expecting beatings and starvation.

I know you’re in pain, but I want you to start to realize that this is pain HE IS CAUSING.  And to ask yourself the big question: if he’s causing me this much pain now, for this, how much pain would he cause someone later, who maybe made an even bigger mistake?  Like, oh, scratching his car, or forgetting a date? 

You deserve better, my friend.  And he deserves to face the consequences of his selfish cruelty – by which I mean the consequence of seeing you live the life you deserve.

I’m not pushing you to be selfish, but I am asking you to take care of yourself.  Like the puppy who runs away from the beater, you have a chance for a better rest of your life.


Take it!

All my best,

Shirelle

What to do when you find you wanted more commitment than you’d thought

Tuktuk asks:

I met a guy in college, a senior. We talked on insta and snapchat for some time and then we met. I didn’t set any boundaries and it was go with the flow concept. We met and we got intimate. Our relationship was more of a physical one than an emotional one. We used to meet and used to make out. Then I broke my leg and went home. When I was home, we started talking and slowly connecting on emotional level. After I came back, we were still more physically involved. Since he is in his final year he didn’t have time to meet and we used to meet only to get physical. In December, I went back home and we decided we’d spend some more time when I came back. But after few days when I asked him about the plan, he started ignoring me. On my asking what was the matter he told me that he doesn’t have time and he needs to focus on his studies. I understood and gave him his space. And he didn’t contact me after that. Then recently, I came to know from a junior of mine that while he was talking to me and was with me, he was talking to another girl as well. Till this point I was kinda over him and talking to another guy, but then all of this started coming in my mind again and again. It’s been like 3 to 4 days since I came to know. I know that we weren’t committed but still I felt used. I felt that I wasn’t enough. I am so disturbed and disappointed. I feel numb. I can’t focus on anything. Please help me deal with this.

Hi Tuktuk –

I’m not going to disagree with anything you say here, about the guy, about you, about your relationship, or about what you did right or wrong. 

To my mind, you had a perfect experience with him.  Nothing bad happened, no one got a disease or an unwanted pregnancy, no one’s chasing anyone in a jealous fury, it’s all just fine.  To quote that old song, “I used her, she used me, but neither one cared – we were gettin’ our share.” 

However, you do care!  The only thing wrong is that, by pursuing exactly the relationship you knew you were gladly in, you’ve ended up feeling bad, “not enough,” “disturbed and disappointed,” “numb,” and “used!”  Not exactly our romantic ideal!

It reminds me of when someone goes to their first university party, and is thrilled to at last be able to do all the things they can’t do in their parents’ home, and smokes cigarettes and a cigar and drinks six beers and a few vodkas.  And the next morning, wakes up feeling like a truck ran them over and spilled all its exhaust into their mouth – and wonders what they did wrong.  NOTHING!  They got exactly the consequences they ought to, from the actions they embraced, and all rightly so!

Tuktuk you’ve just had a true learning experience.  Some people hate commitment, and would find your situation just perfect.  You had lots of fun with the guy, and now you’re both free – all’s fine.  But I think we’re learning that that’s not you.  You didn’t want full commitment, but you felt more attached to that guy than you’d expected.  My guess is that you’ll find that this is true of you from now on, too.  You care, you get attached, and you’re going to have to take responsibility for yourself in that. 

I don’t mean that you’ve been irresponsible.  But just that you’re learning what you like and what you don’t, and even a good honest guy like this one can’t make you happy unless you clarify what you need in relationships. 

So while you’re feeling all these awful feelings, I’m going to say to you, “Congratulations!”  Because you had a fun exciting experience, and learned some really important things about yourself. 

I couldn’t wish anything better for you!

So feel those bad feelings, but be ready to move forward out of them.  Now that you know what you don’t like, you’ll be able to take better care of yourself next time.

Just like the person who goes to their next university party and says “Oh yes, I’ll have one beer, thank you!”

All my best,

Shirelle

What to do when your ex keeps treating you badly for making a mistake

Lilly asks:

The man I made a mistake with months ago continues to treat me badly.  I am feeling too much disturbed feeling alone, the smile on my face has gone too far. He has not even seen my messages in 2 days (or he’s seen but is not reacting to any – maybe he is not paying attention).  I don’t understand why his behaviour would change so much?  Suddenly he’s ignoring me and doesn’t want to meet me or talk to me. Where should I go? He’s the only one I want to talk with, and he’s behaving like this. Maybe now he doesn’t want me in his life anymore. I want him and need him, I can’t give him up. Nothing feels right. I don’t know what to say to him. Help me!

Hi Lilly –

I am so sorry.  I am SO SO SO sorry!  What you’re going through is pure hell, no question.  You’ve made it clear before that you made a mistake, and frankly not that big a one, and told him you see it.  But he’s refusing any contact with you at all.

Sometimes I’ve done some things that made Handsome, my human, really upset, and he’s made me go into the back yard, and left me alone back there.  And since we dogs have no sense of time, I’ve felt just what you’re feeling – that he’s gone forever, that I’m trapped and helpless, that he hates me and always will. 

But I’ve always been wrong.  After some time (and frankly, it’s not all that long), he has always come out and called me to him and cuddled me and kissed me and said he hopes I learned what I needed to because he hated doing that to me and never wants to have to again. 

Okay, it’s like five minutes!  But still, I felt just as bad as you’re feeling now!  Yes our brains are that small!

The difference, of course, is that in your case this has gone on for weeks.  And this guy seems to be insisting that it will be this way forever.  So you’re devastated, as anyone would be.

But I want to suggest you step back.  Way way waaaaay back.  And look at this the way I do.

You made a mistake – you gave him space when he wanted you there (without telling you) – and he’s acting like you poisoned his aunt.  He’s not giving you any chance to talk, and basically is doing what a lot of people call “ghosting” – cutting you off completely.

So I have one question for you:  Is this really the guy you want?

Yes, he has all the qualities you’ve loved in him.  But if he treats you this badly today, what’s he going to do the next time you make a mistake?  Or what he calls a mistake?

A while back, Handsome was dating a lovely woman, who broke up with him because he gave her directions to a place to meet him but forgot to write the actual address on the page.  Yes, I’m saying he gave just the right instructions, but left a NUMERAL off.  Now did she have reason to get annoyed about that?  Sure.  But break up? Come on!

So when she did, he argued for a bit, but then let her go.  Because she was making ridiculous rules.  And he didn’t want to be in a relationship where that kind of power games were going on.

Let’s say this guy let you back in.  Will he do the same thing again?  Will he maybe not speak to you for a month?  Six months?  Is that the way you deserve to be treated?

And another question – has he been perfect?  Has he never made a mistake?  (Maybe he even forgot to write down an address of a place in the list of directions!!)

Lilly, you deserve to be loved and cared for.  Sure, the person you’re with has the right to get hurt and angry, and let you know about it.  But then, you deserve to feel safe in the relationship.  This guy’s actions are abandoning, insulting, and hurtful.

If Handsome had left me in the back yard overnight, that would have been awful (and wouldn’t have done a thing to teach me any lesson, as dogs’ short-term memories aren’t that good).  But if he’d left me there longer – if he’d cut me off, no food or water or attention, I’d have found a way to dig out of there.  I’d have left him and found some other way to live.  I’d have had to!  (In fact, this is just what my friend Aria had to go through, a few times; check out her book https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57588647-a-dog-of-many-names?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=HdaB5AQBkK&rank=1 )!

And I hate to say it, but that’s my suggestion to you.  Get out of the yard this guy has stuck you in.  Go out with friends, watch some favorite movies, eat the yummiest food you can – but get out.  Move on.  There are MUCH better guys out there.  Guys with good qualities as good as his, but without this cruelty and carelessness.

And of course, there are always dogs too – we’re even better!

But first, take care of yourself and move forward from this.  I know it hurts like blazes, but he’s actually giving you a gift – he’s showing you just how bad it is to be in a relationship with him.

If later he comes back and apologizes, and makes you believe that he won’t do it again, then I’ll be all for getting back with him.

But for now, it’s time to move on.  He doesn’t deserve you, and you deserve better.

With all my love,

Shirelle

Why can’t the people who care about us understand what we’re feeling?

Soumyaguna asks:

I want to know why do people tend to show their emotions to us and when we try to say what we have to, we are not understood.

Why do people not care about what the other person might be going through, especially when you are not just anyone….you are someone special.

To be clear, I’m tired of explaining myself every time….I’m tired of making others understand what exactly I feel and how.

But deep inside I’m very sad realizing that I actually don’t have even one person in my life who understands me or with whom I can share things, not even my closest ones.

I ‘m tired of this all happening to me all the time….I’m done with this and cannot take anymore, cause it is causing so much harm to my mental peace where I don’t know how to move forward.

Things have just burdened me a lot, with piles of stress and a lot of complaints with close ones as they are the ones whom I care about and always will. But the ignorant attitude just isn’t going down well with me.

Hi Soumyaguna –

         I know you asked about a lot of things, but fundamentally it seems to me that you’re asking about the problem that people aren’t sensitively picking up on what you’re feeling, or even expressing, and seem to need you to spell everything out for them (if they even care then!).

         Of course I don’t know the people in your life, but I will point out something I’ve noticed about humans, which is that you guys have gigantic brains, and they tend to be filled with gigantic amounts of stuff!

         We dogs are relatively simple.  We feel every bit as deeply as humans do, but our thoughts tend to center on a smaller number of items: our safety, food, play, territory, and giving and receiving love.  That’s largely it.  Even the super-smart dogs you see doing amazing tricks in shows have been trained through love and food.

         Meanwhile, you guys have SO MUCH STUFF on your minds.  The same day your heart is broken by someone dumping you, you might have a big exam in a science class, you’re trying to remember all the lyrics to that new song you like, you’re trying to master how to drive your parents’ car, you’re struggling with conflicting feelings about your dad, you’re wondering if you wore the right outfit, and you’re responsible to remember all the different plays on your basketball team.  That’s SO MUCH!

         And my point is that that goes two ways.  When a dog is upset, we’re clear about it.  Maybe we yelp in pain, maybe we whine and lay our head in your lap, maybe we growl and snarl… whatever it is, it’s clear.  But you guys have so many subtler expressions – sarcasm and silence and distance and begging for attention (okay yeah we do that last one too). 

         But when it comes to understanding what another person is feeling, that gets many times more complex.  A person has to focus on someone else (and not that science exam or their jeans), and then read their feelings correctly, and then respond in a way that lets that person know their feelings have been seen in just the right way…

         It’s hard, Soumyaguna.  It’s hard for everyone.  All the time.

         But I’m going to make one big argument about your concern that no one understands.  With all the complexities of the human mind, the amazing astounding unbelievable fact is that people everywhere are mostly just the same.  There’s a reason certain movies or songs or shows are universally popular – it’s because everyone can relate to those feelings. 

         Now you might have people in your life who don’t understand WHY you feel the way you do.  But I promise, there’s no feeling you’ve had that everyone you know hasn’t also had.  Sadness, heartbreak, ecstasy, hilarity, loneliness, alienation… everyone’s been there. 

         So your job – and I know it’s hard – is to find a way to connect to other people’s feelings, even if your reasons are your own.

         Here’s an example.  A guy falls head over heels in love with a woman who doesn’t love him back.  In fact, they don’t share many interests, and she doesn’t treat him well.  She breaks up with him, and he’s devastated.  He goes to see a friend.  The friend gets annoyed with him for acting so glum.  Now we’re looking at just one of those “no one understands” situations, right?

         So our guy explains he’s just been dumped.  The friend says “Good, she was useless!”

         He explains that he loved her.  “Well that’s just stupid.  She treated you horribly!”

         He explains that that’s true, but he still loved every second with her.  “But that’s silly.  You weren’t doing any of the things you like to do!”

         He explains that that’s true too, but that his love for her was bigger than all that, and her leaving makes him feel hopeless and unlovable.

         OH OKAY!  That friend has felt THAT!  And that’s when that friend, if they’re a good friend, says “Oh man I’ve been there!” and tells them THEIR awful story about when they felt that way.  Maybe they have a couple of beers.  Maybe they talk till they start laughing about their awful relationships.  Whatever it is, a line has been crossed.  And our fellow doesn’t feel alone anymore.

         Sure he still misses her, and his heart still hurts, but connecting with that friend helped him move forward.

         But as you see, the friend didn’t get it at first.  It took some work to get there.

         Now Soumyaguna, you may be right about some of the people in your life, that they’re not interested enough in your feelings to care.  If so, those don’t seem to be the best people for you to put your trust and emotions onto.  Better to find someone who’s better at it.

         And you know where I’m going to go with this – there’s NO ONE better for this than a dog!  We may not understand your reasons or your stories, but we connect to every emotion you have, and WE CARE.  We care as much as we do about ourselves! 

         And unlike your human friends, we’re very happy to lick all the tears off your face!

         So please don’t give up on everyone, and give people the chance and the information they need to connect with you.  But if they can’t… just remember, we’re out here, always eager to give you just what you need.

         All my best,

         Shirelle

What’s the best way to deal with false rumors at school?

Arty asks:

A few weeks ago at lunch one of my friends at school told me that someone who I thought was my friend made a story about me on FaceTime (Maybe she was jealous but she also might have just been bored or feeling mean. I’m not sure.). It was about me having sex with someone else who is now out of our school, and us having a child and giving the child away. When I heard the story I went to someone who’s always supervising us during lunch. She’s someone I guess I trust, and we’ve known each other for however long I’ve been at this school, and my friends and I love her and always talk to her. So I told her everything. And this lady I trust called the girl who made the story about me and told her she was very disappointed in her because the same thing had happened to her last year. Then lunch ended and my teacher called everyone who was involved. She talked to us and the lady I trust also talked to us. I was silent the whole time and was on the verge of tears (I had wanted the lunch supervisor to talk about it to the person who made the story, but not to bring my teacher into it and get people in trouble and stuff like that cause I feel people would call me a tattle tale.), but tried not to show it. When they were done talking, I asked if I could use the restroom. I felt vindicated but also horribly embarrassed.  When I reached the restroom, I started crying. Then one of my used-to-be best friends but now sorta-friends walked in, gave me a hug, and we both cried a little bit. Then we went back to class. I’m sorta over this, and no one talks about it anymore, but whenever I think about it I feel like I still wanna cry. I don’t know what to do anymore and who to trust or who I can trust. My parents don’t know about this and after a few days no one at school talked about it anymore – which always happens whenever something major occurs. Now I feel like I’m wearing a mask and everyone thinks I’m ok. It’s just so hard not to have anyone to talk to (Sometimes when I say stuff, my schoolmates sorta just laugh at me. I feel like I just can’t get personal with them. And I don’t want to dump my problems on them because I’m sure that they have problems of their own.). And right now I myself feel like I’m being dramatic and selfish.


Then… a whole different story happened! Almost all of my classmates were added to a new group chat a few days ago (including me). And they started talking about a kid in my class. I’m going to name him r. Ok. So they were just talking about r liking every girl in the classroom and wanting to date me! And then they sent a picture of r with like a huge grin on his face and below it wrote r when he sees (I’m going to put j for my name) j. And I’m just like ‘ooook then’… I didn’t really have anything to say so I kept quiet. But with my friends (in a different group chat) were talking about it and stuff. Then r texted in the group chat ‘I like j’ and I was just completely shocked but told myself it was probably a dare or he’s just seeking attention and stuff like that. Then one of my other friends who was not in the group chat with my friends but was in the group chat with the entire class texted me and asked me if I saw the text r wrote. I told her yes. Then she asked if I liked him back. I knew that she was going to ask me and when I answered she would send it to her bestie and her bestie would send it to the whole class. So I just ignored her text. That was during the weekend. So come the school week, everyone is asking me ‘do u like r?’ ‘Are you and r dating’ ‘do you know’ and all that jazz. And one brat  told me ‘go kiss r’. My answer for all of those questions except the last one were ‘I’m not going to answer that question’ ‘no’ and ‘yes’ respectively (is that the right word?). Now, my question for u is what do I do? Do I text this boy and ask him why he did that? If it was a dare? Does he actually like me? (But I’m worried that if I do, he’ll take a picture and send it to everyone) or do I talk to him in real life. Or do I just ignore it and wait for it to be forgotten?  I will appreciate any piece of advise you have to offer. Thank you! 

Hi Arty –

Before anything else, I have one big statement for you:  you are NOT being “dramatic and selfish.”  You went through something terrifying with that crazy FaceTime incident, and are still trying to make sense of it, as anyone would. 

But I’m going to give you a suggestion on how to deal with all this that might sound really odd:  Take a deep breath, and do nothing!

Here’s my thought.  First of all, it seems quite clear that everyone quickly forgot about that idiotic story about you and the child.  It sounds to me like your class looooooves drama, and so is always looking for something new to talk about, so that crazy tale was forgotten as soon as some other nutty one came around!

Secondly, with the story about r, all he’s done was to write that note that said he liked you.  Well “like” is a very vague word.  I like you and I’ve never met you!  But he might mean that he thinks you’re cute (which anyone could say, whether or not they were actually interested in getting involved with you).  Or he might mean he has a huge crush on you.   Or, as you suggest, he might have just said it on a dare.

Regardless, he hasn’t done anything more about it.  And while a bunch of people are asking you how you feel about him (and I don’t know – do you actually feel anything toward him, good or bad?), they’ve probably moved on to other, equally earth-shaking questions, in the seven days since you wrote me.  But unless he’s done anything (like talk with you, or even try to get your attention), you have no responsibility in this at all!

You see, you care a lot about what your peers say and think about you, of course.  But what you’re not focusing on, or at least not telling me, is what you want.  In all the nutty stuff you wrote me about, I don’t hear anything about your excitement or hurt or wishes.  And I’m guessing that’s because they aren’t as important to you right now as what the group thinks and feels about you!

So focus on that.  Would you like r to approach you?  Let him know.  Would you prefer he not?  Then keep things as they are.

I know it seems the opposite is true, but YOU HAVE ALL THE POWER HERE!  Someone saying they like you is a nice compliment but nothing more.  People talk all the time about liking pop stars and actresses, who don’t need to respond at all.  Neither do you!  

You’re just fine, my friend.  And what’s cool is that, for the second time in a very short while, everyone at school got focused on you.  Think how it would feel to be one of those kids no one ever thinks about!  You’re one of the lucky ones!

So stay cool, and take that deep breath — and don’t do anything till you have a feeling that makes you do something.  You have the power, and you have the right!

All my best,

Shirellle

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