Can for­mer flames be­come fast friends?

Kingston Whig-Standard - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON Email: askamy@tri­bune.com Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: I had an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship with a won­der­ful man for more than three years.

We met when I hired his com­pany to do a project for me. We de­vel­oped not only a great per­sonal re­la­tion­ship, but a won­der­ful work­ing re­la­tion­ship, as well. We have worked suc­cess­fully to­gether on mul­ti­ple projects.

He was for­mally sep­a­rated from his wife when we met. They re­cently de­cided to rec­on­cile for the sake of their (teenage) chil­dren. He told me he still wants to be pla­tonic friends and that he “will al­ways be there” for me. I know he is sin­cere, and he con­tin­ues to text me oc­ca­sion­ally.

Nat­u­rally, I was heart­bro­ken. I am work­ing hard to get over my feel­ings for him by stay­ing busy. How­ever, when he texts me, it re­opens the wound. In ad­di­tion, we have a new project start­ing and work­ing to­gether will be chal­leng­ing. I am try­ing to work solely with his part­ner, but will even­tu­ally need to work di­rectly with him, some­thing I al­ways looked for­ward to un­til now.

I would like to be able to work with him, and don’t want to lose the great friend­ship we had, but I re­ally don’t know how to be pla­tonic friends af­ter an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship. Is it even pos­si­ble to main­tain a friend­ship and work­ing re­la­tion­ship af­ter be­ing in­ti­mately in­volved with some­one? If so, how? — PAST FLAME/ WORK­ING FRIEND

Dear Past Flame: It is pos­si­ble to have a work­ing re­la­tion­ship af­ter an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship, but only if you main­tain strict bound­aries and ad­here to some com­mon­sense guide­lines. This will be very chal­leng­ing at first, be­cause you two are es­sen­tially re­fram­ing and nar­row­ing the scope of a re­la­tion­ship.

You need to keep a dis­ci­plined at­ti­tude to­ward this per­son. Ask him not to text you. Com­mu­ni­cate pri­mar­ily with his part­ner. Don’t spend time alone with him. Ba­si­cally, you are go­ing to have to turn the page.

Be aware that you have more of an in­cen­tive to change than he does, be­cause this likely hurts you more than it hurts him.

You should con­tinue to keep your­self busy so­cially and pro­fes­sion­ally.

Dear Amy: My younger sis­ter “An­nie” and I have never been very close, but I’ve al­ways at­trib­uted that to me be­ing cut from a dif­fer­ent cloth.

Our par­ents are suc­cess­ful in their ca­reers. An­nie has fol­lowed their fine ex­am­ple and even raised the bar by pur­chas­ing her first home and pay­ing for her own beau­ti­ful wed­ding — all be­fore she turned 27. I brag to my friends about her of­ten.

I, on the other hand, did not fol­low “the plan.” I did not at­tend col­lege. I rent a very small stu­dio apart­ment, work a me­diocre job that I like, and make enough money to en­joy my life with­out all the flashy pos­ses­sions that seem to de­fine suc­cess to the rest of my fam­ily. I am happy with my life.

At An­nie’s wed­ding ear­lier this year, I helped usher guests, walked with my mother to our seats dur­ing the cer­e­mony, and sat with my im­me­di­ate fam­ily for din­ner. How­ever, through­out the evening, I was ap­proached by three sep­a­rate “close friends” of my sis­ter’s, who each had a strik­ingly sim­i­lar com­ment for me: “Your sis­ter has been one of my best friends for nearly a decade and I had no idea she had a brother.” If one per­son had said this, I wouldn’t no­tice — but this was a real pat­tern.

I haven’t men­tioned any of this to my sis­ter or our par­ents be­cause I don’t know if it would mat­ter, but it still both­ers me. What do you think I should do? — UP­SET BROTHER

Dear Up­set: I can un­der­stand why this has up­set you. But one rea­son you and your sis­ter aren’t closer is be­cause you don’t com­mu­ni­cate. Re­spect­fully stat­ing how you feel may ul­ti­mately bring you closer, and I think you will feel bet­ter.

You should con­tact “An­nie.” Tell her how nice her wed­ding was. And tell her about th­ese com­ments and how they made you feel. Say, “I’ve al­ways been very proud of you and your suc­cess, and I re­ally do wish we were closer. Maybe we can work on that...?”

Dear Amy: “Sale of the Cen­tury” asked you an eth­i­cal ques­tion about re­turn­ing to the store to pay for a pair of jeans that the cashier had mis­tak­enly not charged them for.

I’d say: If the cashier had charged me twice for that pair of jeans, would I go back to the store and say some­thing? Turn­about is fair play. — PA­TRI­CIA Dear Pa­tri­cia: I love your an­swer.

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