DEAR NATALIE: My fiancé’s ex-wife will not acknowledge me. I have been with him for over four years and most likely we will be getting married soon. We were waiting until things eased up with the pandemic to make plans. She literally won’t say hello to me whenever I see her. I see her often because they share custody of their two daughters. I think it really irritates her that the girls like me and that we get along so well. I also think she is annoyed because she wants to dislike me but really hasn’t found any reasons to be mean to me. So she is mostly passive aggressive. My fiancé just tells me to ignore her but it really upsets me that she doesn’t like me. How can I get her to move past this? She left him, so I don’t understand her problem. Any ideas on how to get her to like me or at least acknowledge that I’m in this family, too?
--JUST LIKE ME ALREADY
DEAR JUST LIKE ME ALREADY: Like my mom would say: “Just kill them with kindness.” You can’t “make” this woman like you. This is a tangled web and even though she left him, she may be feeling territorial even after all of this time. She could be resentful that he isn’t carrying a torch for her, anymore. Perhaps she is mad that he moved on with someone that is so likable. The reasons are endless but you don’t need to go down that rabbit hole. Instead, just continue to show up for his kids, be friendly and polite to her and enjoy your life. She may be a part of it, but she doesn’t need to occupy any space inside your mind. At the end of the day, time heals and who knows? She may come around.
DEAR NATALIE: My best friend lost both of her parents to Covid-19 this past year in a short amount of time. I know she is really grieving and still in shock. I feel so terribly for her and want to help cheer her up. Since the CDC has come out with their new guidelines about masks and being vaccinated, I told her I wanted to take her to a resort for a girls’ trip which is just a short plane ride from us. She snapped at me and told me how insensitive I was. She said that the idea of being around a bunch of people without masks who are acting like this year didn’t happen is disgusting to her and she wants nothing to do with it. She is making it really difficult to be there for her right now. Do you have any suggestions on how to make her feel better? I know this has been a horrible year, but she can’t just wallow forever. --PLEASE HELP MY FRIEND
DEAR PLEASE HELP MY FRIEND: Saying that “she can’t just wallow forever” when she has had less than a year to grieve both of her parents is painting a picture that you want her to be over this because it is cramping your fun. In actuality, grief is not linear, it does not just go away when you want it to, and you can’t “make” someone feel better when they are dealing with such life-altering loss. The fact is that your friend has now lost both of her parents to a terrible disease. She may be feeling bitter that she couldn’t have the type of funeral that she wanted and needed to have for them. She may be feeling hurt and emotionally abandoned. She may be feeling rage and uncontrollable sadness. While your intentions were good, suggesting that she needs to move on is insensitive and callous. Instead, take a step back and look at the bigger picture here. She may not want to be around a bunch of maskless people having fun right now at a resort. Did you ask her what she would want to do? Did you ask her what she needs? Maybe a glass of wine or a cup of tea and conversation is more in order. Maybe a walk through a nature reserve or a park. Perhaps bring over her favorite meal and watch a movie together. Give her space and time to process what is going on because most likely she is still in a bit of shock and reeling from what has happened. The fact that the CDC is lifting regulations so abruptly may make her feel left behind. There is this attitude in the air right now that people should just get back to it, but we have a lot to still sort out and process as a society. Give her that space and let her know that you care, you are here for her and that you just want to be someone that she can lean on. The resort can wait.
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