Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Toxic Ex-Boyfriend Wants To Become Friends

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just got out of a relationship not too long ago that I believe was toxic for both of us. We took our time apart, but he has appeared again in my life asking to start over and be friends. He says that he is different and he wants me to get to know the “new” him; however, I am not sure what to do. Should we be friends and see if there is a relationship for us in the future, or should I just leave it alone and move on and continue healing? I need some help. -- A Girl on the Rise

DEAR A GIRL ON THE RISE: Trust your gut. You say that you “just got out of a relationship” and that it was “toxic.” It probably took a lot for you to be able to extricate yourself from this relationship. I suggest that you stay the course and build your life independent of your ex. You can congratulate him on turning his life around and wish him well. But don’t welcome him back so soon. Even if he has had an "aha!" moment and is committed to being a better man, he needs time to practice that. Encourage him to live his life as you live yours. Don’t go backward. Stay on the rise.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just read your advice to the woman whose dog passed away and wanted her neighbor to be there for the dog's funeral. As a “mother” of an almost-16-year-old dog, I just had to write a response to the neighbor who felt this was “over the top.” She should feel honored that she was invited to this funeral. It shows what the dog mom thinks of her in wanting her to be there to share her grief. I am glad the dog mom does not know how the neighbor feels about this, and I am equally glad that you told her to keep it to herself.

My husband and I were never able to have children, and we decided against adoption for various reasons. My dog has become my “son,” and I love him like any mother would love their human child. I know I will lose him soon, and the loss will be tremendous. I wonder to myself how am I going to go on without him. He is truly the light of my life. My husband knows this; a love between a parent and a child is different than a love between spouses.

I hope you will share this response with the neighbor who feels the dog funeral is “over the top.” I feel she needed a little more explanation. -- Proud To Be a Dog Mom

DEAR PROUD TO BE A DOG MOM: Thank you for sharing your story. You are right -- for many people who do not have children, their pets take on that role. And the love shared between pets and their owners can be strong. I have witnessed this in my own family and with friends and neighbors.

Back to the point of the original question: If you are invited to the funeral of a pet, consider it an honor to be included -- and participate with respect, whether or not you understand it.

(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.)