What to do with someone just out of a relationship who doesn’t know what they want

Prince2411 asks:

There’s a girl I was with for 7years, we recently broke up due to some reasons, but she came back, and we’ve been talking for a couple months, we say I love you’s, good nights and all that. In the meantime , she still thinks of giving that guy she was dating after me a chance, even though she knows it won’t work. And they broke up 2 months ago as well, because even she knows it wouldn’t have worked.  But she’s still talking to him, like she feels obligated. In this duration, so many guys have hit on her, one of whom was a good friend of hers. She was affected by that but it doesn’t seem to make a huge impact, though she went to meet him and some other school friends of hers. But when it comes to meeting me, there are always replies like “I’ll try” and all that. Why does she say this? I know she loves me. But she is really misguided and immature right now. What should I do?

Hi Prince2411 –

            I can answer your overall question in one sentence:  She. Is. Confused!

            This girl dated you for seven years, you guys broke up, she got involved with someone else, they broke up, and for the past two months she’s been dealing with him reaching out to her, talking sweetly with you, and even getting hit on by lots of other guys. 

            She’s not ready to get involved with you yet.  And if she knows what’s good for her, she’s not ready to get involved with ANYONE yet, and maybe not for a while.

            I’m glad she hasn’t agreed to her ex or any of these other guys.  If it were possible, I’d send her to a beautiful island where she could relax by herself for a month or two and live off berries and mangos, and just breathe.  She needs to grow, to figure out who she is now that she’s out of that relationship, and to reconnect with what she wants.

            And at the moment, she’s not able to do any of those things!

            So here’s my advice.  Continue to be the best friend you can be.  Don’t insist on meeting up; let her know you’ll be glad to when she’s ready, but honor her need for space.  Then in a few weeks, maybe a month, if she hasn’t brought it up yet, you can suggest meeting in some very innocent way, like having lunch.

            But don’t be just another of those guys asking her to be theirs.  Until she can choose for herself, they’ll just get a pretty companion for the moment, and not the wonderful woman you know.

            Best of Luck!


2 Acts of Contrition – the importance of apology

In a popular movie of 1970, a famous actress tells her boyfriend Ryan O’Neal, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  A couple of years later, he was in another hit movie, where another famed actress tells him the same line, and he responds “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

I agree more with the second one.

People say they’re sorry all the time, and even though they may not truly mean it at a deep level, it’s usually appreciated.  You interrupt a conversation with, “Sorry to bother you, but…” and it’s accepted.  Or you bump into someone accidentally, and say “Oh, sorry!”  Now do you truly, in these situations, feel deep sorrow about your action?  Of course not.  It’s not that big a deal.  It’s just nice to say.

But with bigger deals, it’s often far more important – and more difficult – to express sorrow and remorse.  To feel and relay it to a degree that changes how others look at you.

This issue got on my mind recently, due to some international political scandals I heard about. On May 20, 2020, a world leader attended a party while making rules that people should stay in and not go to parties.  In November of that year, another leader did just the same thing.  And both then lied when they were caught!  And both got in trouble for their hypocrisy.  But today, one of them is hugely popular, while the other might well be dumped by his own party.  What’s the difference? 

I’d argue it’s all about apology.

In May of 2020, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, attended a party at his home, while pushing the people of his nation to, in caution against the Coronavirus, not even attend funerals, much less parties just for fun.  When asked about the party, he said he hadn’t even known about it.  Then he was forced to admit he’d actually been there.

Then six months later, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, attended a dinner at a fancy restaurant, while he was pushing the people of his state to stay home and not go to restaurants.  When asked about it, he admitted going, but said that everyone had safely stayed outdoors.  Then when press photos of him showed that he was sitting under an indoor chandelier, he had to admit he’d been inside.

Two lying politicians, hypocritical about the rules they expected others to follow.  So what’s the difference?

Mr. Newsom began apologizing at once.  And then, for the next year, he constantly kept doing so, saying what he’d done was stupid, and made a strong point of not making a mistake like that again.

Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson continued to avoid talking about that party, and has been caught at others, including a celebratory one the night before his nation’s Prince’s funeral!  Finally this week he apologized for the 2020 party to Parliament, and for the recent one to their Queen. 

Both politicians have faced public fury, and attempts from their opposition parties to replace them in office.  In Mr. Newsom’s case, it even led to a special election.  But by that time, he’d apologized enough, and shown his better qualities in contrast to his opponent’s ideas, and won a greater percentage of the vote than in the election that had originally given him the job.

While, in Mr. Johnson’s case, many members of his own party are calling for him to resign immediately.

Again, I’m not trying to say either one is a total hero or total villain here.  Both showed stupidity and arrogance in the first place.  But one eventually handled it right, and the other didn’t.  And as Mr. Newsom approaches his originally-scheduled battle for re-election, no member of his opposition party has even yet publicly announced they want to run!

What’s the difference between the two?  Mr. Newsom might just be saying and doing the things he ought to, but he appears to be legitimately sorry he went to that party, and to see how hurtful it was to the people of his state.  While Mr. Johnson appears to only be admitting his fault to get out of trouble, nearly two years later, in a way that no one believes.

Now I’ll give another couple of examples of what I’m talking about, a bit closer to home: These are about me!

For the first few years I lived with Handsome, I tore up, chewed, or broke more things in his home than I can count – from windows to album covers to plumbing to furniture.  And, young and headstrong, I could see that he was upset about them but didn’t really care all that much.  Sure I wanted him to be happy with me, but that was about it.

But as I got older, I wanted to be more careful.  To stop disappointing him.  To be more of a partner.

But things happen. And sure enough, one day I was near a window when a neighbor I loved to bark at walked by.  I jumped up to let him know I saw him and wasn’t going to take that lying down – and knocked over a large potted plant, that shattered onto the floor, spilling dirt everywhere. 

Handsome heard the noise and ran into the room, and stopped when he saw it, “oh NO!” he yelled at the mess.

Now, again, I’d done things far worse, but not at this stage in my life.  I felt just awful!  I bowed my head into the floor, my eyes squeezed shut, full of remorse and pain. 

And what did Handsome do?  Oh you can guess.  His heart just melted.  He came and hugged me and murmured, “Oh sweetie, it was only a plant.  I can clean it up.  It’s fine.” 

And it was.

A year or two later, a friend of his, one of my favorites, was at our place.  I’d brought her a stuffed toy, and she was playing tug-of-war with me with it, both having a great time.  But then I took a deeper bite to get more of it into my mouth, and accidentally bit her hand.  “OWW!” she yelled, and pulled her hand back. 

All over again, my heart just broke.  I loved this lady (still do).  The last thing I’d ever want would be to hurt her, or to make her not want to play with me.  So again, my head bowed, my chest hitting the floor, my eyes wanting to shut this truth out completely.

And again, she saw it and knew it was true.  She petted me and said “It’s okay, you knucklehead.  You just have to be more careful.”  And gave me a hug.

Boy did I lick her face clean that day!

The point I’m making in all this is about sincerity.  To say you’re sorry is a nice gesture, but to truly feel sorrow over something you’ve done to someone – that means the world.

In an old movie Handsome loves, a character says that apologizing is a sign of weakness.  Well, maybe that’s true.  Maybe a true apology is telling someone “I’m weakening myself to you, because I feel so bad about what I did.”

I certainly showed weakness about that plant and that toy.  And I’m not ashamed of it – I’m proud!

You see, Handsome and his friend both gained respect for me when I did that.  And Mr. Newsom gained respect from the people of his state when he came clean about that stupid party.  Maybe Mr. Johnson can gain some respect from this too – althought it might be too late for that.

So my doggy advice, if you find yourself in a situation where you should apologize?

  1. Apologize as soon as you can.  Right away is best.
  2. Don’t say anything you don’t mean.  Just tell your heart’s truth.
  3. Don’t make excuses.  (Mr. Johnson, in his speech to Parliament, said he’d only been at that party for “25 minutes.”  So?  Who cares whether he broke his own rule for five minutes or five hours?  It just made him sound insincere.)
  4. Don’t ask for forgiveness, at least not yet.  That’s immediately asking the person you hurt to do something for you!  If they don’t forgive you, you can ask later, but don’t make that part of the apology.
  5. And for crying out loud, don’t just go back and do the same thing again!

If you can master these, your apology has a great chance of being accepted.  And with that, your life will be able to move on from whatever it was you did.

Because in truth, love often IS saying you’re sorry.  And meaning it!

What to do when others are intimidated by your size and energy?

Arty asks: I feel very self-conscious lots of the time. I’m overweight, and I have pimples and acne. My friends also call me mean and evil (though that’s just one guy) and aggressive and sarcastic, to an extent where they can’t tell if I’m even being serious or not. Of course, I know that most of the time, when they call me that, they are just joking around, but sometimes I feel they are serious. One girl even tells me that my voice just sounds a way in which she can tell that I’m being serious. Sure I’m loud, sometimes I’m ‘energetic’ and sometimes I shout (in a joking manner). But overall, I feel like one day, I’m just gonna be abandoned by my friends and that scares me. What do I do?

Hi Arty –

So if I see this correctly, you’re bigger than your friends, and your playfulness can be overwhelming to the degree they don’t know if you’re being playful or aggressive?  ARTY YOU’RE ME!!  That’s just what I get in the dog park!  I want to play with everyone, but because I’m big and very active (I don’t have the skin issue, but no dogs do!), many of them get scared.  Both dogs and people!

While pretty much all humans get self-conscious, and dogs don’t, it does sound to me like you’re dealing with a problem that we dogs do face a lot.  Little dogs bark all the time, even bite a lot, and no one takes them seriously, just laughing at them and going “Oh you’re so adorable!”  Then a huge dog makes one friendly bark and everyone is terrified they’re going to get eaten!  You’d think this means us more-medium-sized dogs would have all communication perfect, but no, it doesn’t work out that way.

The truth is, Arty, everyone needs to adjust their energy somewhat to others.  I can’t run up and jump on everyone the way I’d like to.  Smaller dogs have to be more careful of people stepping on them than I do.  And you – you’re a big guy with a voice that somehow intimidates some people (at least that one girl).  So my advice is simple – learn to soften it.  Learn to approach people in a way that shows you’re not threatening them.

But also learn that these qualities are YOUR POWERS, and you shouldn’t shut them all the way down.  There will be times when it’s great that you’re big, and have that powerful voice!  Don’t give that up!  Think of the SpiderMan line, that with great power comes great responsibility.  I’m saying to, yes, take that responsibility – but for heaven’s sake don’t give up the power!

I once heard a great line, that the definition of a gentleman is a man who knows how to play the accordion and then doesn’t.  Yes that is meant to be silly (after all, lots of people love to hear accordions!), but there’s a lot of truth in it: Having the power to do something, and choosing when to do it, is the key to greatness.  It does no one any good for you to deny your strengths, but it also doesn’t help you if everyone is always afraid of your uncontrollable presence. 

So learn to be able to keep your voice down.  And learn to be able to hold back your sarcasm.  And (and this will take time) learn just the right amounts to let them out to serve your purposes.

If you can master that, you won’t just be Arty.  You’ll be an ArtISTE!


Is it right to give a new spouse properties of the late one?

K-Xengah asks: My mum passed away in 2014 and I got a step-mum the following year. I was okay with it until I saw her wearing my mum’s wedding rings. I really find that disrespectful. And what hurts is that that’s something I wouldn’t expect from her…or anyone for that matter. We tried talking to her and dad but they didn’t budge and made it seem like we were wrong and those weren’t even mum’s rings until my sister called her and gave her a piece of her mind. And even though the rings are off her fingers, emotionally I don’t think I’m okay and I have barely said a word to her for three days now, because all I can think about is “what type of person does that?”

Please advise.

Hi K-Xengah –

            I certainly understand your concern, but I don’t think I agree with you about who to blame in this.

            I know some people who have a dog as a pet, love that pup like crazy, take perfect care of it all the way including putting their beloved soulmate down when it’s time, and then save the pooch’s collar, leash, water bowl, etc., and give them all to their next dog.  While others find that just grotesque, and say “No, you save those as memories, and give the new dog new things.”

            Which is right?  I can tell you we dogs don’t really care, so I’d say it’s whatever’s right for the person.

            Now I’m not trying to compare your mother to a pet, but the issue is kind of the same.  I agree with you that most people would argue that her wedding rings are hers alone, and no one else ought to wear them (or if anyone should, it’s you or some other descendant – or the woman a descendant marries, which can be quite lovely, “I want you to be my wife, and I’m giving you my great grandmother’s ring as a statement of commitment!”).  But then, your father is sharing so much else that would have been your mother’s – his home, furniture, finances… and biggest of all, you! – that he might see giving her the rings as a statement of love and continuity.  In fact, I could imagine he might even see it as a way of honoring your mother, by saying “Every time I look at my second wife, I’ll be reminded of my first wife, so that I can be faithful in my heart forever.”

            My point is that, just as I wouldn’t blame a dog for wearing a collar a human put onto her, I wouldn’t blame your stepmother for wearing those rings.  It was your father’s choice to give them to her, and his alone.

            Clearly, between your reaction and your sister’s, your father and stepmother got the message that you two find your stepmother wearing those rings unacceptable, and acted accordingly.

            And so, my very strong suggestion is… Let the whole issue go.  Forget about it.

            Again, this was your father’s choice.  Maybe it wasn’t the best one, but you’re not planning on exchanging him for another father; he’s the one you’ve got and you’re sticking with him.  And assuming they stay together, he and your stepmother will be your family for a very long time.  And again, they’ve honored your and your sister’s wishes (though maybe you’d be happier about it if they’d honored your feelings without her having to speak up!).  So my suggestion is to pretend it never happened, and have the family life you deserve.

            Then, maybe a few years from now, you and your sister might talk with your father about what to do with the rings.  Again, maybe one of you should have them, maybe someone else. 

            But in the meantime, you will have honored your mother by speaking up, and you can honor your father by letting him move forward from his mistake.  That sounds like a pretty good deal to me!



Should I be concerned if my child cries too much?

Mqasana asks:

I have a 11-year-old boy who is very troublesome. I love my first born child but he’s very disrespectful, doesn’t like to take bath to stay clean, cries at you when you talk to him, and his school is also trouble, he comes home late every day.
Where can I find a school that can help me and my child?

Hi Mqasana –

I can’t tell enough from your letter, but it sounds possible that your son has an actual emotional disorder.  The disrespect and hating baths are nothing out of the ordinary (both are true of me!), but his crying worries me more. 

I’m thinking less that he needs a new school than that you should ask if his current school if they have a counselor, and if not, if they can recommend one.  You might also consider taking him to a doctor to see if there’s anything physically wrong with him.

All kids go through rough phases, and eleven is a common age for boys to be problems.  But please find out if anything else is going on.  If so, there might be some treatment that can help him.  And if not… I don’t think it’s a new school that you want, but rather maybe a family therapist to help him grow through this phase.

Thanks and good luck!


6 Your Special Resolution! … a way to better enter 2022

            Where you live, do people make New Year’s Resolutions? 

I like them.  I think they’re a pretty healthy addition to all the other year-end rituals of parties and gifts and food we have here. 

It’s a pretty simple concept – each person looks at their lives at that moment and says “Okay, what changes do I resolve so that I’m a better person in this next year?”

            Most of them tend to be just what you’d guess, “I’ll lose weight,” “I’ll get stronger,” “I’ll eat less sugar,” “I’ll read more books.”  And as you can also guess, these tend to fall apart as the year goes on (though they do wonders for the financial accounts of gyms in January!).

            Then some get more interesting.  “I’m going to break up with my hyper-critical boyfriend,” “I’ll get my drivers license,” “I’ll get a new job.”  What I like about these is that they’re one-off ideas.  Keeping weight off for a year is possible but requires huge commitment, while quitting a relationship or taking a driving test can be done all at once.

            But I’ve been thinking about a different difference between resolutions.  Is the person focused on the past or the future?

            We dogs live in the present about 99% of the time.  From the most obedient German Shepherd to the most disobedient Poodle Mix (yes I’m looking at you, Ginger!).  While most humans live in some sort of split between the past, present, and future.  If I smell a piece of yummy cheese, I focus on it, with no thoughts of anything else.  But I see all the time – someone sees a pretty girl and their brain just races, “Wow she’s beautiful.  She reminds me of that girl I had that crush on when I was twelve.  I wonder what she’d be like to marry.”  They’ve gone from present to past to future in seconds!

            And I find that most resolutions focus on the past.  “I’ll drink less than I have lately,” “I’ll spend more time studying and less time on TicToc,” “I’ll be kinder to my mother.” 

            Now I’m all for self-improvement, and think that those past-focused resolutions are just fine.  And I hope every one of you who makes them can keep at least most of them in 2022!

            But I want to urge each of you to also make at least one New Year’s Resolution that has nothing to do with improving the past, and just points to the future.  “I’m going to travel to Italy!”  “I’m going to give a tenth of my money to the needy!”  “I’m going to go on twenty dates, and I don’t care with whom!”

            Do you see the difference?  The past-centered ones are about regret, a feeling of being “not good enough.”  But the future ones are about Hope.  About what you Want.  About what would make you Feel Good.

            We have been through ENOUGH these past two years!  And I see all these people out there who’ve been disappointed or crushed so much by this pandemic that they’ve stopped planning for hope.  But that’s the only fun part about having your future-oriented brains!  (If you don’t put some hopes into that future part, it’ll just fill up with fears and worries, won’t it?!).

            So while we all hope that the virus will truly abate in a few months, see if you can start training your brain to hope bigger, too.  But not just for something wonderful to happen to you (“I hope I win the lottery,” “I hope someone wonderful asks me out,” “I hope my son gives me a grandchild!”), but something for you to DO. 

            I can’t guarantee you’ll make it to Italy any more than I can that you’ll lose those inches around your waist.  But I do know that focusing on hope is the best way to help it happen.

            And that makes it so much easier for me to believe in my big hope right now – that every one of you has a joyous, healthy, successful, loving, and HAPPY New Year!



1 Does a good relationship require hard work?

Jhalli asks: Today I read this post, “Happy couple aren’t just the one posting kissing photos. They’re the ones having uncomfortable conversations, helping each other overcome trauma, and ugly-crying to save their relationship. Happy couples prioritize growth and are a source of inspiration for each other.” My question is what do these lines mean, and how can a couple prioritize growth and be a source of inspiration for each other?  What should a couple do to gain it?

Hi Jhalli –

The funny thing about your question, Jhalli, is that you already do what that post is suggesting!  It says that life is complex, and people are especially complex, and so, while the happy romantic times in a couple’s life are wonderful, what makes a truly, deeply happy couple is all that more difficult stuff.  Like caring, communication, openness, vulnerability…  in other words Work!  Exactly what you do for yourself now, as I know because of the deep, insightful questions that you send me.

Imagine having a partner in life who wasn’t just sweet and cute and fun, but also listened when you said difficult things, and tried to help make it all better.  And who told you when things were really tough for them.  And when you two disagree, didn’t get mean or physically cruel, but strived to find a way that you two could both be happy and fulfilled.

That’s what “Prioritizing Growth” means.  Putting growth ahead of convenience.  Doing the hard work to make your partnership stronger and better, always.

This isn’t quite as intense a story as would happen in a human couple, but your question makes me think of an incident between Handsome and me.  He’d been working on a huge project for three weeks, and would only come home to sleep a few hours a night.  I was lonely and miserable through these long days.  But finally, he got a day off to stay at home.  I was thrilled.  But what did he do with that time?  Oh, he got to the three weeks of letters and bills and stuff he had been putting off.  And kept ignoring me!  Well I wasn’t going to take that!

He had this white couch, you see, and I wasn’t allowed to ever get onto it.  Well, he was sitting there on the floor surrounded by piles of papers, and I stared at him till I caught his eye, and then slowly walked up and climbed right onto it!  Saying to him in no uncertain terms, “Are you still going to ignore me now?!” 

And he reacted just as I hoped – he yelled out and demanded I get off the couch, stared “angrily” at me for a second, and then said, “Yeah you’re right,” and took me outside to play fetch.  It was a beautiful moment for both of us.

I needed the bravery to make that statement, and he needed the openness to receive it.  Both were because we prioritized growth in our relationship.

And to the other part of your question, I think that’s automatic.  If you help each other, and the relationship, grow, you’ll immediately inspire each other in other ways, constantly. 

But as I started out by saying, this is the way you live already, for yourself.  So what I’m pushing for is that you find someone equally curious and adventurous.  And create a relationship worthy of you both.

I could wish you nothing greater!


What to do when they say we shouldn’t meet because they have too much work.

Tuktuk asks:

I started playing basketball in my college.  I saw a senior at a game. He is 3 years ahead of me. I started liking him. Sent him a request on Instagram. Both our teams went for finals but we lost. That day I started talking to him. Talked to him for the entire night before I slept while messaging him. Then he messaged me during my classes and we talked from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. In the conversation I asked him out. He said yes and we went for a date that very day at 7pm. We went to a pond area, because I wanted it to be just us. During that conversation he also asked me whether I want something serious or casual. So I said let’s go with the flow because he’ll be gone from here after 6 months and we both wanted to enjoy. We went out and we sat over there and talked for a while and then made out. After that he dropped me and that night we talked about it. We talked every day after that, some days less than usual because of his shifts at the hospital. He doesn’t let me smoke, every time he says no. After 3-4 days my practical exams started and my first didn’t go well. So I called him up and asked him to meet. He agreed but he said either we make out or smoke. So we made out. After that I was coming down the stairs and slipped and fractured my leg. We still talk but our conversations are sort because of his busy schedule. I don’t know why but I always wanna talk to him. Yesterday, he told me everything will stop for the next 5 months because he has an important paper. I do understand how important that exam is but I felt sad, because I wouldn’t be able to talk to him. He said we can meet sometime but I was sad. I don’t know what’s going on and why is he affecting me so much.

Hi Tuktuk –

            I think I have two immediate answers to your final question.  He’s affecting you so much because he’s really likable and he’s really great!  That, of course, doesn’t answer the big question of what you should do, but it’s a start.

            Let me begin with my own special issue:  I hate smoking.  I’ve had cancer myself, which almost killed me, and I love nothing more than running around, chasing people and dogs and other animals, as fast as I can.  Smoking gets in the way of all that.  It tremendously increases your chances of getting cancer, and even if you don’t get that, it reduces your lung power a lot.

            I’m not saying this to preach at you, but just to say… I like his idea, of less smoking and more kissing! 

            Beyond that, he’s someone you were attracted to at first sight, who has stayed in touch and shown interest in you through lots of long conversations… he just sounds great.

            Now, however, he’s suddenly saying your entire relationship needs to be put on hold because of a big paper he has to do.  And not for two weeks, but for five months!

            Well, my dear friend, it sounds to me like he’s gotten suddenly scared.  Nothing else seems to be wrong, but that can be scary too – if nothing’s wrong in a relationship than it could lead to anywhere, even forever! 

            It’s great that he’s a hard worker, a diligent student.  But no one works on their paper 16 hours a day for five months.  He will need a life.

            So my advice is to tell him you miss him already, that you want to be there for him, and you hope he’ll reach out to you when he needs a break from his studies.  But – and this part is super-important – that you also want to give him just the space he needs to do his work.

            If he sees you as a hindrance to his schoolwork, then that will just feed the part of him that’s scared of where things are going, proving that you’re not the right one for him, not supportive enough, all that. 

            But if he sees you as someone who actually helps his life while he devotes himself to his studies… then wow, you’re just the best thing possible!

            I speak from experience on this one.  Handsome has had numerous girlfriends who got jealous of projects he was working on, and he had to let them go.  But I – who was every bit as jealous – stayed around, being there for him when he could see me, and expressing tons of gratitude for his attention.  I don’t mean you have to let him take you for granted – just prove you’re mature and understanding.

            And if you do, my guess is you’ll see him WAY sooner than five months from now!

            All my best,


Can you open up too much about your insecurities?

Jhalli asks:

Today I shared some talks with my boyfriend about how I feel about myself, my inferiority complex nature. Literally I shared everything which was on my mind. But now I feel restless.. how it’s going to affect my relationship with him? I know he will understand me. But why do I feel anxious? What should I do?

Hi Jhalli –

            You’re asking a terribly important question.  It’s great for humans to communicate, and most relationship problems stem from a lack of communication.  But sometimes it’s possible for someone to share too much, too often.  It’s like when we dogs, who, yes, crave food all the time, only interact with our humans by telling them we want food.  That gets a bit boring.  Or if our humans only want to train us in tricks.

            The trick (heh heh) for you to do is to talk about your feelings of inferiority only as much as you absolutely need to.  And to let your boyfriend feel heroic by making you feel better.  And then, to find other things to talk about. 

            Maybe, before you meet up with him next, you could try making a list of ten things to talk about that have nothing to do with your feelings of inferiority.  Just off the top of my head – the upcoming climate change talks, the situation in Afghanistan, the new James Bond movie, the new Covid medications that might be coming out soon, something he doesn’t know about your family background, some music that’s always meant a lot to you but you’ve never shared with him, a project you’d like to start to improve your home… that’s seven…

            And then, when you’re together, talk about a few of those.  Just, again, to make sure that you don’t spend too much time on what’s frankly a negative subject.

            After all, the parts of you that feel inferior love to talk about themselves.  And when he hears them, he’s hearing that you’re inferior!  So his interest in you might just decrease a bit each time.

            But if they’re counteracted by you talking about what you find interesting, then you become… interesting! 

            But please don’t take my warnings as suggesting you don’t open up to him about your self-doubts at all.  Doing so gives you a chance to express your pain and get reassured, and gives him a chance to feel good for making you feel better.

            And all that is just as great as when I walk up to Handsome and he scratches my ears.  Heaven!

            All my best,


Is it wrong to doubt a relationship that’s going well?

PERFECTION asks: My girlfriend and I have been, to each other, quite good, and great now, but I just have that one question. Should I be afraid? About that somethings gonna happen, like her liking someone else? Is that normal? Am I being anxious? I don’t wanna lose her.  I think that’s the whole point.  But should I be thinking like that when everything is fine between us? And can you give me a tip on how to ignore or just forget about her past?  How can I do that?


The main thing we dogs suffer doubt about is whether our people will come back to us when they’ve left for the day, or on a vacation.  I wish I could say we eventually stop worrying about it completely, but we simply don’t.  We can’t.  But that’s not quite the same as what you’re talking about.  So in your case, I’m going to give you two suggestions from Handsome, my human.

First of all, he recommends that you listen to a very cute old recording, Clyde McPhatter’s “A Lover’s Question.”  In fact, he recommends that you listen to it at least five times, and get it stuck in your head (not hard, it’s very catchy!).  Because what is says is simply… yes.  You’re in this state, and you always will be.  There’s no way, no matter how wonderful she is, for you to stop wondering “what if…”  Any more than we pooches can keep ourselves from wondering “What if our person forgets us, or just never makes it home again, or decides they don’t like us anymore?!”

And secondly, he wants me to relay a story to you.  Some years back, a lovely woman was in our home, and it seemed they might start to date.  And casually, she pulled an old book of his off a shelf and opened it.  And out of it fell some awful photos.  Things I can’t write about here – too disgusting.  He had never seen them before, and had no idea how they got there (He later did find out; it was from a truly evil person who’d stayed in Handsome’s family’s home years before).  But how could he convince this woman that he didn’t know what they were?  No possible way!

They talked for hours.  About their values, about their histories, all sorts of things.  All through the night.  (And you can bet, that meant this pup didn’t get ONE WINK OF SLEEP!).  Eventually it was time for her to go home.  He thanked her for being willing to talk for so long.  But then he added, “You know, I’m sitting here thinking…  It would make total sense for you to decide you don’t trust me, that you never want to see me again, that you don’t even want to speak to me again.  I couldn’t blame you if you chose that.  But it’s also possible we could go out again, hit it off, get married, have kids, have grandkids, and live long happy lives.  And when I die first, as would most likely happen, you will look down at me in that coffin, and say, ‘You know, I still don’t know if those pictures were yours or not!’”

PERFECTION, the only way you’ll ever know for sure that your beloved girlfriend is a cheat is if she is.  The only way you’ll ever know if she will stay with you is if she leaves.  Until those things happen, you are stuck with having to wonder, having to doubt. 

That’s life, my friend.  That’s love.

So for now, appreciate her, shower her with affection, and enjoy her. 

And if you have a dog, please, don’t stay away from home too long.  They need you to come back!

All my best,


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