Dear Neil: I am 26 years-old and for the first time in my life I have felt true love with another. But he has broken up with me and left me an emotional and financial train wreck of a mess. The problem is that he compared me to his ex, and accused me of doing things to him that his ex did. But I am being wrongfully convicted for a crime I did not commit. I cry myself to sleep every night alone in our bed. Please help me either get over him or get him back.
Lost and Bewildered in Colorado
Dear Lost and Bewildered : All of us, to a greater or lesser extent, do indeed project our past history onto the present, and we are therefore prone to interpret present events as if they are recreations of our pasts.
As an example, if I were criticized a lot as a child and made to feel inadequate or inferior, I would likely be super-sensitive as an adult to anything you said that implied I was inadequate, incompetent, wrong or that I don’t measure up. I would have these issues regardless of what you say or do or how fair or accurate your observations might be about me. I might even be prone to interpreting your words or behaviors as an attack on my competency—implying that I’m inadequate or that I don’t measure up—even when you may mean nothing of the kind. If we are in an intimate relationship, I might get hyper-sensitive, angry and reactive to you, even though what you said to me may be both well meant and accurate. It sounds as if your boyfriend may be doing some variation of this.
There is nothing you can do to get your boyfriend back other than to invite him back. But you could also communicate that you are willing to examine his feelings about what has occurred and what he would want different in the future. Instead of protesting that his comparisons are unfair or unwarranted, perhaps it would be more effective if you would just ask what he wants different. And then—if you can—do what he requests.
But if his answer is “no,” you have no choice but to make peace with the ending of this relationship and to move on as best you can.
Dear Neil: My daughter, who is in grade one, has come to the realization that she doesn’t have a best friend. Her girlfriend whom she plays with daily is moving. I have told her it is wiser to have many friends than just one who might move away. Does one need to have a best friend—or do they come and go through life?
Grade One Mom in London, Ontario
Dear Grade One Mom: Your daughter needn’t worry. Best friends do not always come and go throughout life, but in first grade they may. Encourage your daughter to have as many friends as she would like, and then she can hopefully deepen some of those friendships.
Having both sounds desirable, doesn’t it? Several friends, with one or two of them being very close.