I was in a dead sleep the other night when my friend Lulu called me at 11pm. I’m a loyal friend, so I answered the phone.
“Hey. I need to talk to you.”
“Now? Chick, I’m sleeping…”
“Yes, now. Matt just broke up with me.”
Oh, God, here we go. I’ve always known Lulu to read into things way too much and freak out. She was never one to just chill – no, she sometimes acted very irrational and instead of thinking things through she would just react. Very typical of someone who is insecure. She had obviously had gotten herself worked up, so I didn’t have a choice but ask what happened.
“He broke up with me, Carrie. He thinks we are getting too serious and he doesn’t want a relationship right now.”
I rolled over onto my back and let out a big sigh. ” Go on.”
Lulu went on and on about how wonderful her relationship with Matt had been and how she couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to be with her anymore. She was seriously freaking out. As her friend, I knew it was my duty to talk her off the ledge and calm her down. From what I knew about their relationship, I knew this break-up would only be temporary. I just had to convince her of this.
Matt was really into Lulu, but he was also going through a divorce, so the fact that he was freaking out didn’t surprise me. Their relationship had been slow and steady. There hadn’t been any “I love you’s” yet, but, a day didn’t go by that Matt didn’t call Lulu or text her five times during the day.
Following my own advice on how we have to watch what men do, rather than what they say, I called bullshit on their break up and reassured Lulu that everything was going to be all right and went back to sleep.
The following morning we started texting.
CARRIE: I was in a dead sleep. Sorry I wasn’t more awake when we spoke. Give him time to miss you. He’ll change his tune.
LULU: I didn’t sleep well. Can you call me when you can?
CARRIE: I’m in the middle of painting my living room ceiling.
LULU: Reality is kicking in. Super Sad. Can I come over and cry on your shoulder? Please?
Twenty minutes later, Lulu was sitting at my kitchen table. She looked worn out, so I gave her a bowl of my left-over American Chop Suey that I had made the night before, figuring that she could use a little comfort food. I sat down across the kitchen table from her and listened to her tell me how confused she was because she didn’t see the break-up coming.
“Lulu, he’s not breaking up with you. He’s confused. He’s going through a divorce. That alone is enough to make any person confused. Look, you know and I know that this wife of his, is an evil twit. And because all he has known is this evil person, who he has been married to for too long, he automatically is confusing your relationship with the Evil Twit. Get it?”
“But why? No, I don’t get it, Carrie. We were going along just fine – everything was great and then he says he’s not where I am in this relationship. I don’t know what he means by that, because we are always in constant contact. I thought things were going great.”
From the time they had started dating, I knew all about Matt and how well he had been treating Lulu. They had been dating for almost a year and their lives were now entwined. She knew everything that was going on in his life, and he knew about hers. I had no doubt that he was into her. Who drives 20 minutes to spend a half an hour with someone and it’s not for a booty call?
“Look, he’s scared. His crappy marriage is all he knows. How long has he been married?”
“See? No wonder he’s gun-shy. It’s really simple. He likes you a lot – that’s obvious. You are his first relationship right out of his marriage and this is scary for him, because he knows you guys are getting serious. In his mind, ‘serious’ ultimately means something that will lead to marriage. And ‘marriage’ means being unhappy. And ‘unhappy’ means divorce. And ‘divorce’ means losing everything he’s worked hard for. Get it? Plus the man didn’t do much dating before he met you, right?”
“Well, but…you know…no. I don’t get it. We were doing so well together. We’ve taken baby steps and its paid off… I’m not looking to get married or move in…”
I cut her off and continued, because she was being defensive and trying to convince herself that she didn’t need him, which was a bunch of bull. She was, after all, sitting at my kitchen table inhaling my left-over American Chop Suey crying about how her boyfriend just broke up with her. Who was she trying to kid?
“Okay,” I said, trying to think up of a better way to explain my point, “let me put it to you in another way; some people train their dogs with a rolled-up newspaper, right? Every time the dog craps on the floor or chews something it shouldn’t, the dog owner rolls up a newspaper and then what happens? *THWAP!* The dog gets hit!
Now, eventually the dog will understand that it is not supposed to chew up things and crap all over the floor, but I’m not talking about teaching a lesson here. What I am talking right now is association. Whenever this dog, that has always been disciplined with a rolled-up newspaper, hears the newspaper shuffle, what does the dog do?”
Lulu didn’t answer me so I continued, “It runs away because it thinks it’s going to get hit. Even if the dog didn’t do anything wrong, it wouldn’t matter, because the dog associates the sound of the newspaper with being hit. I believe this is what’s happened with Matt. He only knows one thing; relationships are scary. You have to keep in mind how much his last relationship caused him and that his only reference any relevant future relationship is now going to be his crappy loveless marriage.”
Finally she got it. “That’s it, isn’t it? He’s scared. He’s scared he’s going to have the same thing all over again.”
Matt’s anxiety and uncertainty was understandable because of his circumstances. A lot of men don’t know how to express themselves. This is why it is important to give people their space, stay strong, and don’t assume anything until the smoke clears. In this case, Lulu didn’t give Matt enough time. I reminded her again that actions speak louder than words. Watch what people do, not what they say.
So, what happened to Lulu and Matt? He woke up the following day thinking, oh my God what did I do? Then he called Lulu. That was nine months ago and they are still together.
Sometimes it’s good to just chill-out and wait.