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DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex is dating someone who looks exactly like me. I know that it is common to have preferences when it comes to appearance, but I think that it is strange for him to date a woman who looks so similar to me. Several people have pointed out our similarities. I know that it doesn’t have much to do with me, but it is so obvious that I feel the need to say something to my ex about it. Should I mention it? Is it wrong that I am bothered by this? — Similarities
DEAR SIMILARITIES: Don’t fall into whatever trap your ex is setting for you or himself. Sure, people can have a type. If you are his template, let him keep searching for replicas of you, but don’t get caught up in his drama. That woman is not you. She has nothing to do with you. Leave it at that. When other people point out the obvious — that she is your lookalike — shrug it off. Do not engage in gossip about the two of them. You don’t know her, and his relationship is none of your business.
Do your best not to think about him. Live your life. You are no longer with him for a reason. Look ahead, not backward. To be clear: Do not reach out to him to ask why he is dating someone who looks like you. No good will come of that. He will only make you feel jealous or angry, or he may try to win you back by saying that he actually wants the real you. Don’t fall for any of it — simply don’t engage with him anymore.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine likes coming to my house often, but it seems that she always has something negative to say about it when she visits. She is an interior decorator, so there are times when I can really respect her critique, but other times her commentary feels random and unfair. The other day, she told me that my home is dark and depressing and that I need more natural light. (This would be almost impossible, as I’m currently renting and cannot install windows.) What should I do? — Critical Houseguest
DEAR CRITICAL HOUSEGUEST: Next time your friend comes over, tell her to leave her design hat at your doorstep before she walks in. Tell her that her ongoing, unsolicited consultation and critiques are wearing on you and you need her to stop. Recognize that, as a professional designer, she may look at every space through her professional lens, but ask her to keep her thoughts and opinions to herself unless you ask for them.
Explain to her that her constant criticism can be hurtful at times, and also unhelpful, given your circumstances. Give her a couple of examples so that she understands what you mean — like telling you that you need more natural light in a rental that you cannot renovate.
Your friend needs to learn to read the room better — for the success of her career. Your feedback may be beneficial to her if she listens.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)