Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Questions Telling Ex About One-Night Stand

DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend and I broke up a month ago. We had been dating for two years when things went bad, and we decided to call it quits. I had a one-night stand during our break, but I have been communicating with my ex again, and it seems like we both want to get back together at some point. Should I tell her about my one-night stand immediately, or should I wait for her to ask about it? -- Getting Back Together

DEAR GETTING BACK TOGETHER: I vote for keeping that information to yourself. You say that you broke up with your ex before this happened, which means that you did not break any covenant of fidelity to her. Revealing that you were intimate with someone else -- even if it was only for one night -- is likely to trigger all kinds of worries and emotions. That isn’t necessary.

If the two of you are seriously interested in trying to be in a relationship again, talk about what you want, and be honest about what’s important to you. Be honest about your priorities and needs. Give each other space to talk through your hopes and fears. Figure out if there seems to be a way forward for you.

In the context of these talks, if it seems natural to reveal what happened, you may do so. But it is not necessary or wise to volunteer that information at the start. Having a one-night stand or even dating for an extended period of time when you were not together is separate from your relationship.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my employees has been acting differently at work. I manage a boutique -- including the employees -- and while his change has not been negative, it has been perplexing. He used to be somewhat social with customers, but now he fluctuates between being social and closed off. I do not know if this change is a good thing or a bad thing for him personally, but it is odd for the store. I want to ask him about it, but I do not know what to say. How should I approach this situation? -- Perplexed Boss

DEAR PERPLEXED BOSS: Your powers of observation are revealing to you that something is going on in this man’s life. Be gentle as you approach him. Let him know that you want to check in with him. Tell him that you have noticed that he is acting a bit differently. Be specific when you point out moments when he has been engaging with customers and other times when he has been closed off. Point out what you would consider his baseline behavior to be and how his recent behavior differs. Ask him if he has noticed what you are mentioning. Also inquire as to whether everything is OK in his world, or if something different is happening.

Choose your words carefully. Don’t suggest that something is wrong. Saying that you notice that he is acting differently is less charged. If he reveals what’s going on with him, do your best to help him if he needs it. If he does not, make it clear to him how you need him to engage customers, and let him know you will support him as best you can. If he continues to demonstrate mood swings, you will have to decide if there is something else he can do that involves less interaction with the public.

(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.)