Q: Hi Meredith,
I was dating a guy we will call "Joe." We ended up breaking up because he was moving across the country -- and because he looked through my phone and had unnecessary trust issues. While we were dating, we set up my best friend with his best friend (we can call him Charlie) who are a great match. Our friends are still dating, but for some reason, I can't get past thinking about Joe every time I see his friend Charlie. It's gotten to the point where I just choose not to see my best friend if I know Charlie will be there. I'm still hurting from the breakup with Joe, which is why I try to avoid seeing Charlie. He just reminds me of Joe and brings back the memories of all of us spending time together.
I know the best answer to this is to just get past it, and understand that Joe and Charlie are two separate people. I understand that I should not hold any of this against Charlie, but I find myself not being able to move past that. If there is a solid reason to break up, I can typically get through a breakup quickly, but this is starting to affect my friendship with one of my best friends.
Do you have any advice for trying a new way to look at the situation? I am usually the one giving my friends advice but I can't crack this one.
– Unintentionally taking it out on our friends, Needham
A: I have a Charlie, UTIOOOF. It used to be that whenever I saw him, I was reminded of an ex who's a mutual connection. I couldn't see Charlie without thinking about the ex. Sometimes I was tempted to bring up the ex in front of Charlie just to see if he'd react. I wondered if my Charlie knew whether my ex was dating other people. I wondered if my Charlie talked to the ex about me.
For me, the answer was to communicate with Charlie as much as I could. Not in an unnatural way, but just enough to make things normal. The more I talked to Charlie, the more Charlie was just … my Charlie. Not a friend who also knows my ex. These days, I sometimes forget that Charlie even knows the ex. Charlie's his own guy. My pal.
So that's my advice. See your Charlie when it makes sense to do so. The more you embrace the new situation, the more it will be come your present, not your past. The Joe-free Charlie memories will take over before you know it.
And remember -- some of this angst might be your reaction to hanging out with a still-happy couple. It's difficult, but you have to do it for your friend.
Readers? Should she avoid Charlie and give herself time to mourn or see Charlie more to get over it? Should she talk to her friend about the problem? Is this about Joe and Charlie or about hanging out with a couple? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.