Dear Carolyn • At church or other public functions, my ex-boyfriend comes up and greets my friends with kisses and hugs, when I am standing right there. He gives me a nod. This causes me no end of grief. My question is about my friends’ behavior. I think out of loyalty to me, they should not allow him to greet them so effusively — or else, he should greet me with more than a nod. I spoke to my one friend about it, and she said she would “try to remember,” but I don’t think that’s good enough.
Dear Frustrated • “No end of grief”? That’s almost as funny as what your ex is doing. Yes, funny. When someone does such a clumsy, obvious job of insulting you, it’s actually a backhanded compliment. He’s trying to deliver a scathing put-down, right? But the message he’s actually sending is this: “I am a graceless dork.” As put-downs go, he’s brandishing a crayon scribble as if it’s the Mona Lisa. You have a range of appropriate responses, all of which will serve their purpose as long as you treat his behavior as the crayon scribble it is. A pointed, “Hello, Ralph,” would do it. Or a gently teasing, “Really?” No appropriate response, by the way, involves trying to control your friends. Cut that out.
Dear Carolyn • My first marriage ended 15 years ago. It lasted eight years and did not end well. While we were married, she and I did a lot of world traveling and took many photos of our travels. I have since remarried and my wife and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. The old photos from my world travels are in a box in the garage. Included are photos of relatives and friends who have since passed away. Should I take a day and rummage through the photos to see the ones I want to keep or should I just throw the entire box away? It will be painful and emotional either way.
Dear M. • I can’t imagine throwing away photos of deceased loved ones just because I didn’t want to feel bad for a day. It’s like abandoning priceless archaeological relics because I don’t want dirt under my nails.
Carolyn Hax’s column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.