I'm writing to you from Kenya. My friends and I listen to you religiously and love your podcast it's helped us get through some really tough situations.
So my question is this: How do you know if someone has actually broken up with you and when is the respectable time to call time of death if he won't answer your calls or messages?
Here's my sticky situation: I've been seeing this guy for about four months and the relationship has been littered with ups and downs—but the ups have been really great. But this past weekend his friend flew in for work. His friend has stage 4 cancer but has decided to live up his life so you couldn't really tell that he's sick just by looking at him or hanging out with him but it's there. So my boyfriend hangs out with his sick friend on Friday and we hang out with him on Saturday as a group, which was great.
Unfortunately my boyfriend and I had made plans to go to a show that I absolutely love—a show that only happens twice a year—the week before his friend showed up. My boyfriend proceeds to cancel our plans to take his friend out which really upset me because there had been a trend of him canceling our plans to hang out with his friends, which we had spoken about before. I only asked him for three hours of his time after which we could go and pick his friend up and hang. Was I insensitive for being upset at his clear disregard for the plans we previously set?
My boyfriend sent me a one line text ending the relationship the next morning and he hasn't answered any of my phone calls or texts thereafter with an explanation or anything. Was I a horrible person for getting upset or should I just DTMFA! And move on?
Your help would really be appreciated.
"My boyfriend sent me a one line text ending the relationship the next morning..."
You can't DTMFA someone who has already DTMFA'd you, MF. (That's a bit like yelling, "Oh, yeah? I quit!" at the boss who just fired you.) Also, too: when someone breaks up with via text and doesn't answer your subsequent texts and/or emails and/or snaps and/or telegrams and/or skywriting... figuring out whether you've been dumped isn't hard. You've been dumped. Time of death? Check the timestamp on the text your ex-boyfriend sent ending your relationship—that's when your relationship ceased to be, up and died, went home to Jesus, etc. (Okay, that last one doesn't really work, but you get my meaning.)
Were you being insensitive? Yes, MF, you were. Your then-boyfriend of four months—four rocky months, from the sounds of things—has a friend with stage 4 cancer. His dying friend came to town and your then-boyfriend wanted to spend as much time as possible with his dying friend BECAUSE HIS FRIEND IS DYING. Prioritizing time with a dying friend over seeing a show with a new girlfriend—a show that comes around twice a year—isn't evidence that your then-boyfriend is an insensitive asshole. Quite the opposite: it's evidence that your now ex-boyfriend is decent and kind and able to prioritize what's important (dying friend) and what's not (a show).
Ask yourself this question, MF, and try your best to pretend it's a hypothetical that doesn't involve you: Who do you think would make a better partner over the longterm: A guy who would ditch a dying friend to go see a show that's coming back in six months? Or a guy who would drop everything—including plans he made with a new girlfriend—to be there for his dying friend? (The latter is the only correct answer, MF.)
Sure, it sucks when someone cancels plans with you. Under normal circumstances, it would be shitty if your boyfriend canceled plans to see a show that you "absolutely love" and were looking forward to. But these weren't normal circumstances. These were extraordinary circumstances, MF. Your then-boyfriend did the right thing by clearing his schedule for his friend. The right thing for you to do, under the circumstances, was to tell your then-boyfriend you understood why he had to cancel, you would ask a friend to go to the show with you, and you two could see the show together the next time it came to town.
But you didn't do that. You got upset... and then you got that text.
Finally, MF, a new relationship that's "littered with ups and downs" probably wasn't long for this world anyway. And if your ex-boyfriend was canceling "set plans" with you left and right—if this was a pattern in your very short relationship—he either wanted out of this relationship before his sick friend came to town (hence the canceling of plans) or you were making unreasonable demands on his time and he wasn't ready to devote all his time to you (hence the ending of the relationship).