Be open about flir­ta­tious mes­sages

Cape Breton Post - - LIFESTYLES - EL­LIE TESHER news@cb­post.com @Cape­Bre­ton­Post

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.

Neg­a­tive Mom-Friend

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.

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