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Ask Ellie: Take it slow with old flame after rough year

Enjoy the harmless flirting on social and gain inner strength from former lover’s interest. Like powering up in a video game. But go slow.

Dear Lisi: It’s the New Year and I just want to start fresh. I’ve been going through an ugly separation and I need to think about my future. I have two small children who are both finally in school full time. And I’m about to start a new job in February.

About a month before the holiday season started, a love interest from my past contacted me through social media. We met on vacation 15 years ago. We were hot and heavy and managed to keep it going for a few months after the trip. He’s a few years older and at the time he was much more mature and ready for more of an adult life than I was interested in. We ended it and went our separate ways.

Over the years he’s crossed my mind, more so as my husband and I struggled with infertility, and then the marriage itself. So, I was very pleasantly surprised to see his name pop up in my social media. We’ve started chatting and he’s also recently ended a long relationship, which means we’re both single.

But I’m nervous, scared and not sure how to proceed. What do you suggest?

Fresh Flirtation

My advice is simple: Go slow. You’ve had a rough year and you need time to settle down from all the negativity. Your children also need you. They need your focus, not just your presence.

If this guy is long-distance (you didn’t mention), then enjoy the harmless flirting on social and gain inner strength from his interest. Like powering up in a video game. But go slow.

Focus on your mental and emotional health, on your children, and on your new job. If by the summer you guys are still in contact, then figure out together how to meet up somewhere neutral and safe.

I repeat, go slow. New Year, new job, new you. Learn from whatever mistakes you’ve made (we’ve all made them) and forge ahead.

FEEDBACK regarding the mom who threw out her kids’ items (Dec. 15):

Reader – “Mom, good for you! Those kids were pressing for limits! Do NOT replace these items at Christmas. Have a nice dinner, with shared preparation and shared cleanup. Small modest gifts only. Then, some New Year’s resolutions for everyone: kids work on their attitudes and work ethic, Mom works on strategies to lead this household more stably. AND an equitable chore list for all!”

Lisi – Love your feedback. My rationale behind mom re-purchasing the items she tossed was based on the fact that she was going to get them some gifts anyway. Instead of yet another sweater or socks, I have no doubt the girls would appreciate new makeup, and their own so they don’t have to fight. She didn’t complain that they weren’t doing chores.

As for the boys, I mentioned in my original response that they probably need some restrictions and guidance on when, how long, and what needs to get done before they can play.

Reader 2 – “You suggested mother buy them makeup and Xbox to replace what she tossed out due to their fighting. Are you kidding me? These kids can get part time jobs, replace their own stuff and contribute to the household or mom can do it again. Suggest to mom to hold firm!”

Lisi – The girls weren’t not contributing. It’s not about buying the items for themselves. The mom’s reaction was over the top but she was obviously very frustrated. I don’t think what she did was wrong, but I also don’t think the kids deserved the extent of her upset. Had the boys been playing with the dog and still ignoring her, she wouldn’t have tossed the dog.

Dear Lisi: I stuck my foot in my mouth on New Years’ Eve and now my sister and my mom aren’t talking to me. But I have no idea what I said that upset them!

We were all at a cocktail party together. Everyone was dressed up, having fun, and drinking. Though I didn’t drink a lot, I drank enough that I was loose-lipped. I don’t remember much.

I woke up New Years’ Day and called everyone, as we always do, to debrief about the night. My mom and sister refuse to speak to me, still. My dad is staying out of it, and my husband has no idea what I said.

How do I make amends?


Apologize. Profusely. Just keep saying you’re sorry. Once their fire dies down, gently ask what you said that was so upsetting. Be prepared – they may react harshly. But you need to know so you don’t say it again. And though you don’t think you drank a lot, you drank more than your body could handle. It’s not OK to not remember things due to alcohol consumption.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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