Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Memories of Husband Affect Dating 15 Years Later

DEAR HARRIETTE: I lost my husband about 15 years ago. I know I should be past it by now, but I’m not. I have never met anybody who even holds a candle to him.

My husband was a wonderful man. He was kind and attentive. I’m not saying he was perfect, but he was perfect for me. Every time I date, I hold men up to my husband as the standard. They never win the contest. How can I learn to look at them for who they are? -- Missing My Man, Allegheny, Pennsylvania

DEAR MISSING MY MAN: People grieve at their own pace. Your feelings of loss about your husband are real and clearly continue to affect your ability to be fully in the present. Take some time to remember all that you cherish about your deceased husband. Give yourself space to honor his memory, and literally ask for his blessing to move on.

You may want to get professional support, too. A grief counselor may be able to help you disentangle your tendency to evaluate potential suitors based on your husband’s characteristics and your desire to hold on to his memory. You can have one without the other.

Regarding your male suitors, your job is to be in the moment. Stop looking for a replacement for your husband. Instead, enjoy the companionship before you. Look at the person who is with you and notice his good qualities. Pay attention to see if you two mesh and if you enjoy each other’s company. Stay attuned to what’s happening before your eyes, and choose not to bring your husband into the moment. You can do it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 12-year-old daughter asked if she could dye her hair. I know it is because several of her camp friends have colorful streaks in their hair, and she wants to be part of the group. My daughter has not asked to do anything trendy before. I’m inclined to allow her to do it because it seems benign enough. She is totally into fashion like her friends. As far as hair color goes, we could get a temporary wash or even one of those bottles where you can draw in streaks. Her friends have gone to the hair salon, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I have dyed my hair myself. I’m sure I can dye hers. Do you think I am being too indulgent? -- Pre-Teen Hair Dye, Meredith, New Hampshire

DEAR PRE-TEEN HAIR DYE: I’m with you. In fact, I allowed my daughter to dye her hair when she was your daughter’s age. It was fun and temporary and allowed her to feel a little grown up.

I will add that it damaged her hair a bit. Hair dye, even of the temporary variety, is drying. As with everything, there are pluses and minuses. You can help your daughter keep her hair moisturized as she explores, but let her have fun with it. As she grows up, she will have to make choices with her career in mind. For now, she’s a child. Let her have a little freedom.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)