DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been with my girlfriend for almost a year now. She recently told me that she still has a lot of the gifts that an ex-boyfriend gave her.
I got a lot of pushback from her when I told her that it made me uncomfortable that she still has the gifts. I think that her unwillingness to part with them may signify an emotional attachment to the items — and thus an emotional attachment to the person who gave them to her.
Could I be overthinking this?
Throw Them Out
DEAR THROW THEM OUT: Start by assessing what the gifts are.
I wouldn’t automatically say that your girlfriend is holding on to old feelings about her ex because she has some stuff he gave her. It could simply be that she likes the things.
Ask her and listen to what she has to say. I would be worried if she seems to go down memory lane when she speaks of her ex or of the items in question.
The reality is that if you date someone who previously was with someone else, it is likely that the person may have items from the ex. Even more, there surely are memories of their times together. You may want to know a bit about what she liked about this person, how they spent their time and why they broke up.
Rather than automatically wanting her to expunge any memory of him from her life, learn about her past. Allow her to learn about yours as well, and see where this path of mutual discovery leads you.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend and I are together probably 80% of the time. I spend pretty much every weekend with her, and we see each other most weeknights.
It is rare that I make plans without her, but it does happen. Sometimes I would prefer to do certain things without her. She doesn’t seem to want to do anything without me, though, so I don’t think she fully understands this concept.
How do I make her understand that I don’t always want to include her in my plans without making her feel like our friendship is unimportant?
DEAR ALWAYS TOGETHER: You have created high expectations that likely make your friend believe that you two do everything together. You may want to start by reducing the amount of time you are together. What about having some alone time, just for you? That would be beneficial for your life anyway. You can let her know that you need to be alone sometimes. After you create space for yourself, it will be easier for you to spend time with others without her trying to account for your every step.
You will need to tell her that you go out with others sometimes so that her feelings aren’t crushed when she discovers this. She may not understand, but you need to attempt to get her to accept that you love her and enjoy her company — and you also enjoy spending time with others.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.