Be open about flirtatious messages
Q - I'm a man, 46, happily married for the second time. I've remained friends with an ex who moved to a different country, through exchanging texts about once a year.
Her most recent message was very flirtatious. I responded similarly, though meant in humour. Her message back was more suggestive, and I again matched her.
After one more exchange, she messaged, “Do you really want to go down this road?”
I couldn't tell if she was being serious or calling me out for my going along with it.
I didn't respond. What should I do?
I don't want to end the friendship, yet the flirting's harmless since we're living in different countries. Confused
A - Explain yourself to her that you are happily married and the texts were just responses-in-kind for fun, which you assume was her intent, too.
That way you're being clear. And you can be open with your wife and tell her that your friend was likely bored and playing the tease.
Why raise it with your wife? Read on:
Repeated mis-steps in a relationship, which is what teasing, flirty texts with an ex look like to a partner, often get discovered eventually, and become a far more serious issue.
You don't really know what your ex meant. So it'd be hard to explain it to a partner wanting a straight answer to, what's this all about?
She may even ask you to stop texting with your ex. Given the distance, her odd message, and the pressures of the times, that might be the best idea, at least for a long while.
Q - A mom-friend whom I now see every month for coffee and chat, recently said that she felt our friendship had changed.
I said that obviously, our not seeing each other as regularly as before, with our kids taking different paths in life, could possibly be the reason for change.
She persisted, saying that my questioning of how they were all managing during COVID restrictions was just me probing for her to give negative answers.
She added that I'm a fake friend as nothing ever seems to go wrong for me.
This, despite that when she had an emotional breakdown several years ago, I was there to listen for hours.
Yet she said that I was not there for her.
I was defending myself against her comments. Though the last 18 months had appeared fine for my family, I've been dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Plus, I've been offering long-distance support to my mother and sister after my other sister's sudden death, despite my condition.
My friend and I have talked since but she still doesn't consider that I'm dealing with pressures.
She's good company otherwise but does have a negative side. During that bizarre meeting, she just seemed like she was having a teenagestyle tantrum.
I'm uncertain of how to continue this friendship which had once been enjoyable.
A - Friendships evolve for better or worse, depending on circumstances, plus feelings like envy and insecurity. Add other reasons that someone keeps private — e.g. how her husband handles her negative outbursts, or whether she bottles them up at home and ends up exploding at others such as you.
If she criticizes you during the next meeting, say pointblank that you want to continue the friendship but not if it's always about her negative views of what you say, how you live, etc.
Having to be defensive every time you two meet, creates an unhealthy relationship for you both.
Q - I'm a hugger. And the pandemic has restricted my natural inclination to be warm with people. Seriously, it causes me emotional pain to withhold from greeting a close friend, neighbour, extended family, etc. with some level of physical contact.
Normally, I help strangers, e.g. picking up groceries they dropped. Now everyone just watches as the person picks them up alone. It's just wrong.
I feel like there's a straitjacket on my personality. No Hugs
A - You're still goodhearted, so show it in words, like, “Great seeing you healthy.” Show it with an elbow-bump or shoe toe-touch, if they agree (explain first).
Show your caring by protecting your own bubble of contacts and that of others, by saying, “We'll hug again when we can.”
Even with closest family members living together, you still have to protect each other from potential COVID transmission through aerosols reaching each other's eyes, nose, or mouth, by washing hands frequently, especially after being out.
ELLIE’S TIP OF THE DAY
Don't hide unusual flirty texts from an ex. Discuss them openly with your spouse.