DEAR NATALIE: I let my sister move in with me during Covid so that she could get back on her feet. She had lost her job and things were challenging financially. But for the past four months, she has been working full-time and seems to be doing fine. I feel bad asking her to leave, but my husband and I would like to have our space back. It was only supposed to be temporary, but she is already talking about staying through the end of the year. How can I gently ask her to go without causing a rift? I love her, however this has to end at some point. -TIME TO GO
DEAR TIME TO GO: Family dynamics can be tricky in any situation, let alone when you pile on a pandemic and a job loss. While I feel for your sister, wearing out one’s welcome is never a good look. Now that she has a job, it may be a good time to sit down and just ask her about that timeline she proposed. Maybe you can bump it up a month or two, bringing it closer to mid or early November? Offer to help her look for an apartment or house for rent if she is open to it. These things can be overwhelming and can feel paralyzing. She may just feel so safe, loved and comfortable with you that she is afraid to leap. Approach her with love and respect. Share that you want her to move forward while knowing that she has a safe place to land should she need it. With that approach, it may feel less like you are throwing her out and more like you are propelling her forward into a new adventure.
DEAR NATALIE: I’ve recently reconnected with an old flame that I dated about thirty years ago. My intentions are purely platonic, but she seems to think that there is a chance we may get back together. I have explained to her that since losing my wife five years ago, I don’t want to be with anyone again. She was the love of my life, but nothing seems to deter this woman from wanting to see me. Do you think it’s a bad idea if we get together and catch up? I don’t want to lead her on but I also wouldn’t mind seeing an old friend. What do you think? My son says that I am allowed to have friends, but not if they have feelings that aren’t reciprocated. Thoughts? —PURELY PLATONIC
DEAR PURELY PLATONIC: If you have any curiosity at all, why not meet up with her? Do you think maybe you are afraid of what you might feel? If you do have even the tiniest desire to date again, it doesn’t mean that you love your wife any less or that your memories are any less valuable. You are allowed to seek companionship, friendship -- and yes -- even romance. If you aren’t ready for that, continue to be honest with your old flame and let her know. Go ahead and set up a coffee date or a lunch. Those are usually a little less romantically charged than dinner or drinks. And who knows what is around the corner for any of us? Keep an open mind and heart. You may not end up dating, but perhaps a real friendship can blossom.
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