DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-boyfriend from college just lost his ex-wife. They were divorced for years, but they have a child together, so they stayed in touch. She had breast cancer and didn’t survive. Their children are in middle school and obviously upset. I feel so sorry for him and want to be there to support him. We have stayed friendly over the years.
The problem is that my current boyfriend is jealous of any of my past relationships. He has demanded that I not communicate with my ex. I think this is ridiculous and do not want to agree with his demands. I am a grown woman. I am not interested in this guy. I want to be a friend to him at a time when he is in mourning. I plan on calling him. Should I keep it to myself or let my boyfriend know? I’m not trying to start an argument, but I also don’t want to start hiding my actions from him. I feel like his possessiveness could eventually be a deal breaker. -- Jealous Boyfriend, Denver
DEAR JEALOUS BOYFRIEND: If you have any hopes of your relationship with your boyfriend turning into something long-lasting, you need to be able to be honest with him, especially about how you intend to handle a tragedy.
First, call your ex and express your condolences. This way, you do not allow the drama that may ensue with your boyfriend to get in the way of being appropriate about this death. Find out if there is anything you can do to help. Then tell your boyfriend that you called your ex to let him know how sorry you are. Tell your boyfriend that you hope he understands, but you were clear that you had to show up for this moment. If he doesn’t understand, tell him that you two probably need to assess your values to see if you are a match. You must figure out how to agree when a crisis arises.