DEAR HARRIETTE: I am dating a woman who is “one of the guys.” It’s a long-distance relationship for the two of us, which complicates things to start, but my issue is that she has this group of guys she hangs out with, and she gets all glammed up to hang out with them, drinking all night and laughing it up. Worse still, the guys she tends to hang with I consider to be thuggish. It worries me that this is how she spends her time -- especially since they often go out and get drunk. I am concerned about her safety and even about her choices. I don’t want to sound like the overprotective boyfriend, but her behavior disturbs me. She says I should stop being so jealous and paranoid. How can I get her to see that she might be in danger? -- Not One of the Boys
DEAR NOT ONE OF THE BOYS: For a relationship to work, you need to foster shared values. This is always true, and it's glaringly important when your bond is long-distance. How each of you spends your free time matters. Yes, you should trust each other, but trust is earned. It is fair that you re concerned that your girlfriend is dressed up and drinking with a group of guys on a regular basis. Even the best-behaved people can loosen up under the influence of alcohol.
The thing is, you cannot control her behavior. You probably do sound jealous and paranoid. You believe it is for good reason, while she brushes it off. It is hard for you to make ultimatums from a distance. What you have to decide is what you are willing to accept. Stop badgering her. That never works. If you can’t accept her extracurricular activities, you will have to determine if this is a deal breaker. Or is it time for the two of you to live in the same town? Talk values, and make up your mind.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was married to a man almost 30 years ago. We have spoken only once, for legal purposes, since then, although once I did send him a note of apology about how I had behaved at the end of our marriage. I found a copy of that note recently, and I realize that even then I was blaming him for the demise of our marriage, when it wasn’t that simple. I was wrong, too, and I treated him terribly. I know that now, and I feel like I owe him a true apology. I’m not interested in being friends with him. I just think I should own up to my horrible behavior way back then. Do you think he will appreciate receiving a note of apology from me so many years later? -- Delayed Regrets
DEAR DELAYED REGRETS: The notion of making amends is powerful when it is deeply considered and completely transparent. If you can find your ex’s contact information, write him a letter of apology. Admit your role in the demise of your marriage. Be forthright about how you behaved and how sorry you are for however you hurt him. Tell him that even though many years have passed, you have not forgotten that you were unkind, and you are sincerely sorry for any pain you may have caused him. Express your hope that he has built a good life for himself. Wish him well. Do not ask to re-engage in any way with him.
(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.)