DEAR AMY: My ex-partner and I split up about seven months ago after living together. He is significantly older than I am. It was his decision. Although it broke my heart, I wanted him to be happy so I moved out. I moved on with my life and found a really great guy that I love very much.
My ex and I stayed in contact, and I still consider him a friend. He seems to have given up on dating and has become more isolated. I still see him occasionally for dinner. He knows that I am seeing someone exclusively and that my current boyfriend and I have a great relationship.
Recently however, he seems a little more affectionate. Others who have witnessed this tell me he’s still in love with me. I still love him very much and always will, but not romantically. While I’ve never said this to him in those words, I feel pretty confident that he knows this.
I’m starting to wonder if hanging out with him every once in a while is doing him more harm than good. This situation is not really hurting me, nor is it getting in the way of my current relationship, but I do worry about whether our contact is good for him.
I don’t want to give him false hope or make him any more depressed; I just want to see him happy. Is there anything I can do or say that can help him? — M
DEAR M: If you are happy and healthy in your new relationship, you should attempt to extend your friendship with your ex to include your current partner. The reason for this is twofold. This sort of transparency is probably best for your current relationship, and it also exposes your former partner to a new circle of people and a new dynamic, which could give him a social boost.
I do not think seeing this old friend occasionally would be “bad” for him; if he is depressed and isolated, this contact might be helpful. Rather than leave all of this as subtext, you should do your best to be honest with him about your concerns —leaving the door open to a continuing friendship.
DEAR AMY: My brother-in-law is going through a divorce after a very messy situation with his (almost) ex-wife.
He met someone new last month, and she seems to be much like his ex in terms of her appearance, values, et cetera. Naturally, we are concerned but will give her the benefit of the doubt.
The problem is that he is bringing her on a family vacation. This is a very intimate, cozy setting for the family. Frankly, I do not want to share our vacation with our children with the new girlfriend.
We all stay in a family-shared home in a remote setting. Am I totally out of line? — Annoyed
DEAR ANNOYED: I’m assuming that family members are free to bring a guest if the house will accommodate it.
While I agree with you that bringing a new squeeze on an extended family holiday is unwise (and even a bit obnoxious), your brother-in-law sounds like one of those people who just can’t be alone.
The sibling closest to him could bring this up by asking him, “Do you really think it’s a good idea to bring this new person into the family for an extended period? It puts a lot of pressure on her — and on us.”
Unless there are house rules dictating this, he probably won’t do anything differently.
You have the right to be annoyed. What you may not do is to let this ruin your holiday.
DEAR AMY: You were remiss in your advice to “Flummoxed.” Whether a father wants a child or not doesn’t matter. You should have referred the mother to the child support authorities.
Here in California, they have enormous power to force unwilling fathers to pay support to their children. Wages can be garnished and bank accounts tapped. All the mother needs to do is contact the authorities, and they take it from there. — Dana
DEAR DANA: The question was not really about this, but you are correct.