DEAR CAROLYN: At church or other public functions, my ex-boyfriend comes up and greets my friends with kisses and hugs, when I am standing right there. He gives me a nod. This causes me no end of grief.
My question is about my friends’ behavior. I think out of loyalty to me, they should not allow him to greet them so effusively – or else, he should greet me with more than a nod.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: “No end of grief”? That’s almost as funny as what your ex is doing.
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Yes, funny. When someone does such a clumsy, obvious job of insulting you (at church, no less!), it’s actually a backhanded compliment. He’s trying to deliver a scathing put-down, right? But the message he’s actually sending is this: “I am a graceless dork.”
You have a range of appropriate responses. A pointed “Hello, Ralph,” would do it. Or a gently teasing, “Really?” Or, ideally, nothing except the laugh this slapstick performance deserves.
No appropriate response, by the way, involves trying to control your friends. Cut that out.
One last thought: Could it be he is just hurt and awkward and at a loss for what to do? If what you know about him suggests that’s possible, compassion would serve you better: “Ralph, hi, good to see you.” No lather, just rinse and repeat.
DEAR CAROLYN: My first marriage ended 15 years ago. It lasted eight years and did not end well.
While we were married, my ex-wife and I did a lot of world traveling and took many photos of our travels. I have since remarried and my wife and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. I have no children from either marriage.
The old photos from my world travels are in a box in the garage. I haven’t looked at them in over 10 years. Included are photos of relatives and friends who have since passed away. Should I take a day and rummage through the photos to see the ones I want to keep or should I just throw the entire box away? It will be painful and emotional either way.
DEAR M.: Imagine throwing away photos of deceased loved ones just because I didn’t want to feel bad for a day. It’s like abandoning priceless archaeological relics because I don’t want dirt under my nails.
If you’re not up to seeing these images or having tough feelings right now, for whatever reason, then so be it – that’s what garage boxes are for. Depending on the climate conditions, though, you might want to upgrade “garage” to “back of a closet”; you want any destruction of photos to be your decision, not mildew’s.