A free personal online advice column

January 27, 2004
Dear Jenn,

I'm having a dilemma. I ran into an old boyfriend of mine the other day and he told me that he still loves me and wants me back. Here's the catch: He got married since we last dated. He says he's absolutely miserable and that he only married her out of lonliness for me. Now I'm having all these thoughts about him. I don't want to get involved with a married man. He just sounded so miserable! What do I do?

Dear Hopeless Romantic,
Before I even start any "advice" I have to say: DO NOT get involved with a married man! Aside from moral issues, you don't know how vindictive his wife is, and you could find yourself in court before it's all said and done! That being said, let's address some other issues: First, it's always been my experience that when you develop feelings for an old love, it's usually out of lonliness. You remember all the "good" things about the relationship and forget what broke you up in the first place. Do you really have feelings for this man, or are you just feeling lonely? Because the latter is not fair to ANYONE involved here. Second, if this man gets a divorce, you need to make it clear that you are not a "sure thing". You don't want him filing for divorce thinking you will be waiting for him when he "gets out", so to speak. And thirdly, DO NOT take his word for it that his divorce is final. Tell him you want to see actual legal dated documents that it's over before you will think about ANY kind of relationship with him.

December 19, 2003
Dear Jenn,

My brother got divorced several years ago. It came as quite a shock to the rest of the family because they had seemed happy for 25 years of marriage. They had traveled the world due to his fruitful military career, had two outgoing and successful children, and we all genuinely liked his wife. But out of the blue, he left her, claiming she was domineering and controlling, and that he'd been unhappy for years, if not decades. Much to a few raised eyebrows, he started seeing a woman almost immediately after the split, but she was so willing to be involved with his extended family that we welcomed her with open arms. Here's the problem: His ex-wife is making him miserable. She and her lawyers have taken almost every penny he's got. She gets almost all of his military retirement income and he has to keep a secondary job just to get by. The feud has caused so much strife in his family. I know she's upset, but when a marriage is over, it's over, right? Is there anything I can offer him to help smooth this vendetta his ex-wife has to restore family peace?

Dear Concerned Sister,
This story sounds a little one-sided. Have you even talked to your ex-sister-in-law yet? There are three sides to every story: His side, her side, and the truth. Let's face it, misery loves company. It sounds like she will do whatever it takes to make him realize that life without her would be miserable.

Try to put your mind in this scenario: You're at a bar or some other public place, and you start to talk to a woman you've never met. She begins to tell you that her husband, who she loves very much, has left her. That she gave up her whole life to follow him all over the world in support of his military career, bore two children for him, and that he had the nerve to leave her for another woman. What would you tell her?

I'm not telling you to take sides, because he's your brother and family should be most important. But maybe you should get his ex-wife's side of things before you offer up any advice. And if that's not possible? Then I suggest you "filter" out some of the things he tells you before you pass judgment on what's really happening. In the end, they will figure out what works best all on their own.

November 22, 2003
Dear Jenn,

I'm very confused and hurt by the actions of a very good friend. She wrote me a letter, and told me about some things I had said or done recently that upset her. She seemed awfully focused on $4 that she gave me when I came up short the last time we went out. I took the letter seriously, and I assumed she wanted to address these problems so our friendship could grow and we could clear the air. But since then she has avoided my calls and not wanted to see me at all! Do you have any insight as to why she's acting like this? She can't possibly want to end our friendship over $4??

Dear Hurt and Insulted,
What this girl is doing is very cruel. I just have to say that first. I agree that if you have issues with a friend, the "letter writing" technique is a good one. You can address your issues without getting heated, and then you both come to your compromises and then move on. But to write someone a letter, tell them everything you don't like about them, and then blow them off? That's really very cruel. There are much less harsh ways to dissipate a friendship. My advice? This girl has issues and you are better off without her in your life.


November 20, 2003
Dear Jenn,

I have a friend that has recently required me to be very tolerant and patient of her. She has been unreliable, and stood me up several times, causing me and my children to be disappointed because they like playing with her children. She asked me to come to her daughter's birthday party. I agreed and asked for a gift I could get. She told me of a $15 gift that I agreed to, but then she TOLD her daughter I would get it for her. Well, when I got to the store, the gift was almost 3 times the cost. Then she told me that the park she was having the party at was charging $5 per child to use the indoor swimming pool! I have four kids! I just can't afford to spend this money right now on this party? How do I handle this without being incredibly tacky???

Dear Broke and Frustrated,
First thing I would say is to not buy the expensive gift. If you've had to deal with disappointment in your children because of her, she can deal with her child's disappointment, too. But if that's not an option, and I can see why you feel trapped since she already said something to her daughter about it, (which was tacky in itself, by the way) then the only thing I can say is try to suck up the cost of this party, but then you need to distance yourself from her in a major way! This woman is not a friend, and she is not concerned with anyone or anything but herself. Subtley start turning down play dates or make up reasons to get off the phone when she calls. If she starts making the effort to be your friend again, maybe you can give her another chance. But my instincts tell me that she will be just fine, all wrapped up in her own little world.


October 27, 2003
Dear Jenn,

I have a friend getting married and I'm the Matron of Honor. She has chosen a very bright, red, strapless dress for the girls to wear and I just don't feel comfortable wearing it. My figure and my arms are just not appropriate for this dress. Is there any way I can ask her to change her mind?

Dear Blushing Bridesmaid,
Every bride wants her wedding to be exactly how she pictures it in her head, so dealing with ANY bride can be a difficult situation. However, being that you are Matron of Honor, I'm assuming you are good friends, and you have a little lee-way to look different. Ask your bride if she would mind if you purchase a cropped jacket in the matching red to wear over your dress. This way, all the girls are still wearing the same dress, but you, as Matron of Honor, are offset just a little to be "special"! And you should feel more comfortable.

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