The other day my boyfriend, who I have lived with for almost four years, left home at 8:00 a.m. for a horseshoe tournament. When I asked why he was leaving so early, he said that it was so he could get home early. I called his cell phone at 3:00 p.m., but it said he was out of range. He never called or expressed concern for my worrying. He just said, “Sorry I didn’t call.” What is that? How can he just act like he did nothing? I mean I know he didn’t sleep with anyone, but I still think it is wrong to be disrespectful. Is this too small to be mad about or is he insane for thinking he can just tell me something and then do whatever he wants regardless of what he has said?
Did you miss him that day? Were there moments when you wished he were there to cuddle or share a laugh? Did you want to break bread together? Oh, I could go on and on imagining opportunities that might have arisen that day to carry you deeper into the experience of love. But instead, why not use the situation to prove (mix and match from the following): he’s not really committed; you shouldn’t trust him; he’s abandoning you; he does not love you the way that you think he should. Sound familiar?
In your letter you noted that your boyfriend said he would be home early, but you didn’t say that you asked him, directly and specifically, to call nor did you say that he actually promised to call. If you just expected him to phone home out of courtesy and his natural instincts run in more absent-minded directions, accept his apology. Then talk about how to communicate more directly with one another when one of you wants time alone or if plans change.
Next, try to determine why an apology wasn’t enough for you. Perhaps there’s a history of small slights, real or imagined, that have inspired you to develop rather tight control issues. If he’s chafing under that system, you can expect the subversion of rules and unspoken expectations to increase. That doesn’t mean he’s right and you’re wrong. Frankly, a phone call would have been kind. But you could have also met the situation with love instead of lack while still clearly stating that a call would have been appreciated. A spiritual director or a Jungian therapist can help you change.
I disagree that there are paperback equivalents to TV. Even a cheap romance novel involves your mind with language in a way that TV does not. TV is hypnotic, hard to turn off and almost like being asleep. You wrote, “TV is an entertainment medium, not an educational one, unless we each take it upon ourselves to interact with it differently.” Doesn’t TV programming determine whether it is entertainment or education?
I often joke that TV is the North American form of meditation. In true meditation, you can develop an inner awareness that watches your ego interact with the world and intercepts it as needed. Most North Americans prefer guided visualization—allowing whatever is suggested to float into their mind. They consider this relaxing. But if we’re awake, we understand that it is our responsibility to question the authority or veracity of whatever we are engaged with. TV (or a romance novel) is innocent. Our compulsion to create lives we need to escape from, our tendency to blame institutions, our inability to think constructively and to realize that we have authority over our thoughts—those are the problems.