It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.
We spoke yesterday to facilitate an exchange of borrowed books, clothes, etc. He said he wants to give me my birthday present. He was planning to just give me a gift certificate to a place, but he doesn’t want to get me something I won’t use and so he offered to give me cash instead. To summarize: he got me a present he wanted, slacked on it for four months, and dumped me the day after I finished taking the bar exam. Can I take the money he’s offering even if it is vindictive and petty? — Feeling Petty
It was tacky of your ex to give you an I.O.U. for your birthday and not pony-up before dumping you. It would be tackier of you to accept money from an ex for a birthday that happened months ago. Move on already and consider it a gift that the guy not only saved you from investing further in this dead-end relationship, but he dumped you the day after your bar exam rather than the day before.
Anyway, there is another girl on my team, closer to his age who has a kid as well. They have been flirting constantly, and I feel very disrespected because he does it right in front of me. I don’t know if he does it to try to get a rise out of me, but if so, it’s working! I used to enjoy being around this girl, but now I can’t stand her. Am I overreacting? — Team Jealousy
You ex-FWB is not flirting with another woman to “get a rise” out of you; he’s flirting with her because he’s interested in her (and no longer interested in you, which is why he stopped sleeping with you even though you’d like to continue having sex with him). If it’s bothering you so much, consider switching teams. As far as not being able to stand his current woman-of-the-season, remember the old adage: don’t hate the teammate, hate the playa.
He says he loves you and it feels like you’re still in a relationship, so why on earth would he not want to just label it as such? Because he wants his freedom — freedom to do whatever he wants — including sleeping with other women — without you or anyone else telling him not to. As to what you should do about it: stop making it so easy for him to have you without any strings attached.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at email@example.com.