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.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently met a nice guy at the gym. Not only is he nice, he is also super buff. I asked him what he does to get such a great body, and he told me that he was incarcerated for a few years, and working out was how he kept his head. This admission scared me. I didn’t expect him to talk about doing time. I have never met anybody before who admitted to being in prison.
I didn’t ask him what he did to land in prison. Part of me feels like it is too pushy to ask, but if I don’t know, I don’t think I could be comfortable dating him. Do you think it’s OK to ask? What if I find out that he did something really bad? -- Ex-Con Date, Raleigh, North Carolina
DEAR EX-CON DATE: If you want to get to know this man better, be direct and ask him to tell you his story. You want to know who he is and what he has done. The more you learn, the better you will be able to decide if getting to know him more and dating him is worth it. Don’t decide until you get the whole story. People do make mistakes. He may be in a new place, ready to forge ahead.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)