The Gabber’s semi-regular advice column, Dear Gabby, is here by reader demand. Have a question or a conundrum for Gabby? There’s no problem too small for our resident advisor. Send your questions – they can be anonymous – to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a neighbor problem. When we moved in five years ago, our neighbor across the street was super friendly, always saying hello and stopping to chat. But we must have done something to offend him, because now he won’t even look at us and the other day for no reason, he swore at my wife! Is he crazy? Are we crazy? I’m a little scared to ask. I feel like I have to at least try to get along?
Two of “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz came to mind with this question. “Don’t take anything personally” and “Don’t make assumptions.” Your neighbor could be experiencing something in his own life that’s got him soured to the world, and it may very well have nothing at all to do with you or your wife. Without more context about the exchange in which he swore at your wife, I’d just say if you’re concerned about him and miss the friendly rapport, consider asking him if he’s all right or even ask him if something’s wrong because you miss the short chats and neighborly smiles. If his newly acquired bad mood is just a curious change but doesn’t really affect your day-to-day, ignore him and leave him to his misery.
Is it a good idea to be friends with your ex? We broke up more than a year ago, and the other day she texted me to go to an art exhibit she knew I would like. We haven’t seen each other since the break up – and I’m definitely over it – but there was a reason we started dating in the first place: We get along well and like a lot of the same things. I miss her friendship, but I don’t need any drama!
Friendship with an ex can be difficult to navigate, particularly if the parting was less than amicable or there are residual feelings. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. If there isn’t any resentment between the two of you, and there aren’t any closet longings for what once was, then a friendship is possible. This art exhibit can be a test run to see if your friendship has survived the failed romance. If it feels weird or forced, if messy feelings surface or mixed signals show themselves, you’ll know that a friendship won’t work out. Give it a try, but don’t feel bad if it turns out that it’s best to move on altogether.
A Milwaukee native, Sheree L. Greer is a local text-based artist, educator and taco lover. In 2014, she founded Kitchen Table Literary Arts to showcase and support the work of Black women and women of color writers and is the author of two novels, “Let the Lover Be” and “A Return to Arms.”