Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Ask Natalie: Caught in a love triangle between two friends? Husband mad that you donated to Texas relief fund?

DEAR NATALIE: I’m in a weird love triangle. My ex and I broke up over the summer and his good friend asked me out a month ago. I really like his friend and we’ve been having fun. Well, as much fun as you can have during a pandemic. We recently slept together. It was good, and while we aren’t “exclusive” yet, I think we are heading in that direction. We told each other not to tell my ex about what happened. Why make him feel awkward? Well, my ex found out and he’s been blowing up my phone with “I want you back” texts. He had all summer to chase me. He had most of the fall to chase me. And now here we are, and suddenly he wants me back? He’s also mad at his friend for hooking up with me. But it wasn’t like we slept together the day after we broke up. It’s been months. He had his chance. There is a small part of me that misses him but I am not sure what to do. I like his friend and I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. Thoughts? —CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: This is so typical. You always want what you can’t have. Now that you are a free bird, your ex is jealous that you’ve moved on. Unless you are desperate to get back with him — and it doesn’t seem that you are — you don’t owe him anything. The issue really is between him and his friend at this point. Some people would say that he broke “bro code” by hooking up with the ex — but like you said — time had passed.  Your ex had months to talk to you about his feelings. The question your new guy has to ask himself is this: Does he think dating you is worth losing his friend? If he feels strongly about you, he may have to choose between you and his friendship with your ex. Relationships — of all kinds — can be messy. I would let your ex know that you didn’t mean to hurt him, but that you have to move on with your life. Suggest that he does the same.  

DEAR NATALIE: My husband and I have very different political views. We both work outside the home but he is definitely the breadwinner. Recently, I have been donating to political causes and relief funds. Since Texas was hit so hard by this winter weather, I sent a few local organizations some money to help. He saw it on our credit card and made a big deal out of it. It was only a few hundred dollars here and there. We can definitely afford it. He started saying nonsense about people needing to “fend for themselves.” We ended up in a big fight and aren’t speaking much. I just want to understand why my husband is so angry. He has such a beautiful life and I don’t know why he is against helping those in need. To me, being an American means helping one another when they need support. I don’t believe that “every man for himself” will get us out of any bad situation. How do I make peace with my husband? I love him so much but I want to be able to support the causes that I believe in. Any suggestions for how to bridge this gap between us? —DIVIDED WE FALL

DEAR DIVIDED WE FALL: One simple solution is to get your own credit card for donations. Use just the money that you earn to donate to these causes so that when your husband looks at your joint statements, he can’t give you any grief. The bigger issue is this: How can you respect each other’s positions and stay happily married? It appears that you have very different views of the world. Since everything has become politicized, it can be challenging to have that energy not seep into our homes and hearts. You both need to reconnect in a way that reminds you of why you first fell in love. Do activities together, like cooking or bike riding. Engage in something that gets you both out of your heads and into your bodies. Being respectful of one another is important when you disagree, but it is hard to respect someone who believes that people should “fend for themselves” in the middle of a natural disaster brought on by climate change. In order to keep the peace, you may have to agree to disagree and use your own money to support the causes you believe in.

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