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Carolyn Hax: How much time does a boyfriend need to get over his divorce?

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)
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Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My divorced boyfriend says he’s ready to date, but I can tell he misses his old life. I don’t expect him to get over the marriage overnight, but how much time should I give him to adjust?

— Waiting

Waiting: I’m not sure that’s how I’d frame it — giving him “time” for some specific result.

I'm not even sure I'd be looking to him for signs of whatever result that is.

Instead, I suggest looking inward at your own feelings. See whether you’re getting what you want and need from your time with him. If you are, then stay. This can be renewable daily/weekly/monthly as you progress.

If you aren’t getting what you want and need, then decide whether it’s worth it to you to wait for changes that you have zero guarantee will ever happen. Just make sure it’s a matter of seeing how things develop within a non-wishfully-thinking period of time, vs. waiting for your prince to come.

This keeps you from boxing yourself into anything, or looking for someone else to answer questions to which you are the real answer.

It can be worthwhile even if you decide today to stay, see how things go, since you’re unsure … then have a conversation next Thursday that rings the “I’m done” bell.

That kind of flexibility might feel really uncomfortable — in which case, that’s an argument for breaking up — but it’s realistic and honest and challenges you to notice where you are, not just where you’re hoping to be.

Dear Carolyn: My girlfriend of five years and I are splitting up; it’s completely amicable. We realized we both want different things long-term, so we will be moving out of our shared apartment within the next month. She will probably be living with a roommate.

Should I suggest that she work on her tendency to be messy, and if so, how? By messy, I mean she regularly leaves things throughout the apartment rather than putting them away or disposing of them. It bothered me a lot at first, but I learned to just clean up the small things myself or remind her when it got out of hand. It’s possible that whomever she lives with next won’t be as easygoing, but would saying anything at this point be helpful or sound like bitterness?

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Yikes. No. Don’t “suggest” anything. Breaking up ends whatever say you had in her business.

I don’t need to add this at all, since MYOB is already a complete answer, but: Her roommate could be recovering from a neat-freak former roommate and thrilled to have a fellow slob across the hall. Or just be a natural slob and not notice. Or your ex could use this do-over to mend her ways. So your concern could be totally moot for all you know.

That’s two complete answers and here I am, still writing an answer. I guess I’m just mystified why you’re so concerned for the next roommate, or your ex’s relationship with the next roommate. Feels like the need for a last word/correction/dig more than anything else. Or a patronizing parting shot of only the bestest intentions. Not good either way.