Dear Annie: I recently referred a friend to another friend for a freelance web design job for a huge company. She got the job and just finished, and although I never told her I’d appreciate a referral fee for having introduced her to the opportunity, it would have been nice. I learned of another opportunity for this friend, but I’d like her to acknowledge that I recommended her. How do I kindly ask this friend for referral fees, for both this new job and the last one? — Middlewoman
Dear Middle: You don’t. As far as I’m concerned, friends help friends, and they don’t charge commission. However, if I hear compelling testimony otherwise, I’ll be sure to print it here.
Dear Annie: I am in my late 60s, and my boyfriend, “Mark,” is in his early 70s. We have been living together in my house for a year and a half. We’re both divorced and have adult children from our previous marriages. Mark communicates daily with all five children via phone calls and text messages. My problem is that he’s also regularly in contact with his ex-wife, who lives in the same town as us. They talk at least once a week via phone call or text, usually when I’m not around. Mark always tells me about it. They’ve been divorced for many, many years, and it bothers me that they talk so often.
I’ve asked him what they have to discuss; he says that it’s always about the children. But he’s also shared that she tells him about trips she’s going on and things like that.
She lives with a boyfriend, too, so she is not alone, and she also talks to all their children daily. So, I don’t know what she needs from Mark.
I guess I just find myself wondering, why do she and Mark have to communicate every week behind my back?
Should I continue to give him his privacy? Am I being overly sensitive? Should they maybe talk on the phone or text in front of me instead? Because what bugs me is that it seems so secretive. I share everything with him.
I tried suggesting that he limit his contact with his ex to just emergencies and matters regarding their kids, but he got upset.Should I let it go? — Vexed By the Ex Texts
Dear VBTET: In a word, yes. It sounds like he and his ex-wife are friends, and he probably talks to her when you’re not around because he worries you’ll get upset. He might be more open about it if you adopt a more accepting attitude toward their friendship. When you find yourself feeling insecure, gently bring your attention back to the facts:
No. 1: He and his ex have been divorced for decades, and if they wanted to get back together, they would have done so a while ago.
No. 2: It’s not a bad thing that he is friendly with the mother of his children. In fact, that’s a great sign.
No. 3: You and he are in a committed, loving relationship and share a home together.
I know it’s easier said than done, but it will get a little easier with the doing. Who knows — you might end up befriending her, too.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.