DEAR NATALIE: Is it wrong to meet up with a friend of the opposite sex for a drink ... and not tell my husband? My old friend from college is coming into town and we want to get together for a drink. I (think) he used to have a crush on me back in the day — and I always thought he was cute — but I am happily married. I would like to see him, but I don’t want to create any waves at home. I was thinking of just going and not mentioning it to my husband. My girlfriend told me this is a bad idea. I don’t know what to do. What do you think? —JUST A DRINK
DEAR JUST A DRINK: I guess the question you have to ask yourself is that if there is nothing between you, then what is the big deal in telling your husband that you are meeting for a casual get together? Maybe switch it to coffee — not a drink — while you’re at it. If you really just want to catch up and reminisce together, I would take it out of the shadows and into the light of day. If you really think your husband would be upset with you, then ask yourself why? Is he a jealous person? Is this a deeper issue than just meeting a friend? Does he get like this with everyone? Or is this more about the fact that you don’t want to deal with any underlying feelings about your friend from college? Whatever is going on, you need to be honest with yourself. If this has nothing to do with your husband and has more to do with your own emotions, then look at that more closely. It’s OK to fantasize about old relationships or friendships from the past, but you just don’t want to get stuck there. Sometimes, it’s better to see these things for what they are and not through rose-colored glasses. After being cooped up with our spouses, the idea of seeing other people can be exciting post-Covid, but just make sure you aren’t putting expectations on this encounter. Keep it friendly and keep it sober.
DEAR NATALIE: I recently lost my father to Covid. While he and my mother had a challenging relationship at times, they were married for thirty-four years. Well, my mom has already started dating. When I told her that I thought it was kind of ridiculous that she would jump back into the dating pool so soon, she got angry with me and said that I should mind my own business. That was almost three weeks ago and we haven’t spoken since. Where do we go from here? —STRAINED LOYALTY
DEAR STRAINED LOYALTY: Grief is a very personal journey. I have read that when people who were in happy relationships lose their partner, they can be quick to move onto another to recreate that experience. Perhaps your mom is feeling this way. Perhaps she doesn’t like to be alone. Maybe dealing in silence with her grief is too much and she needs a distraction. Maybe she wasn’t as happy as you perceived her to be and she feels as though she has a new lease on life. Coupling all of that with the fact that Covid took so many lives this past year in the United States alone, it is no wonder that people are acting out. Our collective grief for so many things we have lost along with her personal grief may be making her feel out of sorts. Instead of judging her, why not ask her what she needs. In fact, what do you need? Your anger could be misdirected at your mom when in fact you may be really angry over the death of your father. Anger is completely normal and reasonable to feel when grieving. You may want to consult with a therapist to help work through some of these difficult and layered emotions. In the meantime, call your mom. Tell her how you feel. Let her know that you love her and that you miss your dad. It is OK to feel two things at once. You can want your mom to be happy and also be sad that she is moving forward. It doesn’t mean she has forgotten your dad or loves him any less. She just may need different things than you need during this process. You can hold both in sacredness.
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