I'll run an update or two on Monday. Letter writers: If you want to send me an update to run with the others, please do. Just sent it from the original email address so I know it's you. We'd all love to hear from you.
Q: I am a year out of college and still working at my first job, which I love. Right after I began working here (a month or so) I began a causal relationship with a co-worker, Max. I know, I know, terrible idea. And it was. He did not treat me well. Though we weren't exclusive, he was actively hiding that he was sleeping with other girls, and he pretty much walked all over me. I thought I really liked him, which is why I hung on. This went on for about six months until I met Jake.
Jake and I met in December and were instantly attracted to each other. Even though I was still a bit caught up in Max, things there were fizzling, I knew I wanted them to be over, and I really liked Jake right away. We started hanging out all the time, and within a month or so we were dating exclusively. Only once during the period before we were in a serious relationship did I slip and hook up with Max. During that time period, though, Jake also had a few nights of his own.
Fast forward to now. Jake and I are completely in love. We spend every night together, talk for hours, make each other laugh, and support each other. We are each other's closest friends right now and we are constantly talking about how lucky we are. This is the healthiest relationship I have ever been in, and without a doubt the most fulfilling.
Here's the problem: Max is still in my life (we still work together) and still flirts with me nonstop. Most of this takes place at work, but he does occasionally text me outside of work. This drives Jake insane. We have had countless fights about it, and I have explained over and over that I do not have feelings for Max, that he is just a friend (and I really mean that), and that what I have with Jake is so much more important. After we have a fight like that, he says OK and we move on. But it keeps coming up. At least once a week it comes up. I am so tired of having the same argument, tired of feeling like I am hurting Jake, but I don't know how else to prove that I love him and that Max means nothing to me in comparison.
Max is still my friend -- we get along well and enjoy each other's company. I don't feel like I should have to cut him out of my life. I am trustworthy, would never, ever betray Jake, and am willing to be totally open with Jake (show him the texts, etc.). I should admit here that I did used to hide that Max and I still talked -- but that was because I feared Jake would get upset over something that I knew was nothing. Now I know to be open and honest. Still, every time I get a text from Max it ruins our whole evening together. How do I make him believe, for good, that I am faithful, and that he has nothing to worry about? I can say it until my face turns blue, but that seems to be just a temporary solution.
– Stuck, Allston
A: I'm on Jake's side, Stuck. You have to see Max every day because you work with him, but there's no reason for you to be texting him. He's just some guy you dated who continues to flirt with you to imply that at any moment, something physical could happen again. He's not a real friend.
This is your first post-college relationship lesson. You're not entitled to keep exes around just because you're honest with your new boyfriend about it. Showing Jake the texts doesn't mean that it's OK to communicate with Max after work. You can't do whatever you want anymore. You're in a grown-up partnership. Annoying, right?
Your two options: Stop texting Max and limit your interaction with him to the workplace, or tell Jake that you're just not ready for an exclusive, mature, adult relationship. It's really one or the other. Jake isn't being unreasonable about Max. You wouldn't want Jake texting some flirtatious ex, would you?
Be honest with yourself about what you want right now. Are you ready to do what's best for you and Jake – as opposed to just you? If so, set boundaries with Max. It's that simple. Sorry.
Readers? Is she allowed to be friends with Max? Is Jake being unreasonable? Can you explain the post-college rules of being a couple? Does it help that she shows Jake the texts? 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.