Dear Harriette: I take the same train every morning to work. I’ve figured out where to stand on the platform so that the doors stop directly in front of me. I guess a lot of other people have figured out the same thing. I’ve been noticing a nicely dressed woman standing near me in the morning. I get on before she does and take my seat. Every day for the past week, she has sat down next to me, even though there are other seats open. We don’t speak a word to each other, but I do feel her look up to stare at me a couple of times. Do you think this behavior is odd? Should I confront the woman? — Train Stalker, Westchester, N.Y.
Dear Train Stalker: Rather than assuming the negative — namely that this woman is stalking you — be open to her obvious overture to connect with you. Speak to her. Say “Good morning,” and start a conversation. Start off vague to see where the conversation goes. If she is not forthcoming about her intentions, you can tell her you have noticed that she chooses to sit next to you each day, and you were wondering why. Try not to be accusatory. Be inquisitive instead. If you don’t want her to sit next to you, consider picking another seat or even a different car. You may not want to alter your routine, but it may be the only way to shake her.
Long-distance relationship tested
Dear Harriette: I have been dating my boyfriend for over a year, and we have such an amazing relationship. However, he lives in Seattle and I live in Philadelphia, so we see each other only every couple of months. The other night, I went out with a couple of my girlfriends, and we ran into my ex. I never thought twice about him because I am so in love with my current boyfriend, but I was shocked when I saw him. We ended up talking for quite some time, and after our conversation ended, he kissed me. I think cheating is the most awful thing to do to a person, and I have never done it before.
I haven’t told my boyfriend about the kiss yet because I don’t want us to break up over something that meant nothing, but I know if it were the other way around, I would be devastated. Do you think I should tell my boyfriend about what happened? — Cheating Girlfriend, Philadelphia
Dear Cheating Girlfriend: If you feel like you cheated by talking to your ex or letting him kiss you, you should tell your boyfriend. You may want to wait until you see him next, which will give you perspective on the situation. Was it a one-off, or have the two of you reconnected in any way? If it is the former, you can honestly tell your boyfriend that you ran into your ex and it was intense but meaningless.
If sparks continue to fly, you will need to report that and figure out what you want to do next.
Long-distance relationships can work, but they are fraught with challenges — not the least of which is managing outside attractions.