*Dear Tamara:

My girlfriend and I have been dating for over a year. I knew going in that she and her ex-husband were close. They have been divorced for about five years, but their lives are still connected. They have a six-year-old daughter and they still work together. I have tried to be okay with the situation, but recently I found an email that my girlfriend sent to her ex attaching a photo of them on a past vacation together. The subject of the email was “LOL – For Old Time’s Sake.” I want to confront her about the email, but don’t want her to know that I was going through her emails.

Not LOL

Dear Not LOL:

It seems as if your girlfriend and her ex-husband are a little too close for comfort, specifically your comfort! You need to be honest with yourself about how you feel about her relationship with her ex. It’s one thing to deal with an ex-spouse from afar and maybe through weekend visits with the child. It’s a horse of a different color (I’m thinking GREEN for envy) to know your girlfriend is interacting with her ex on a daily basis. Especially since studies show that we spend more time at work and with the people we work with than we do at home! This might be a bit much for any person to handle!

It can also be difficult coming into a relationship that has a history and a current connection. If you have thoughts or plans about a future with this girlfriend, I suggest you share these feelings with her. She then needs to set some boundaries regarding her relationship and communication with her ex.

If you confront her about the email, then yes, you are correct, you also need to be ready to answer why you were snooping around and going through her emails (which may open up another can of worms). If you have “stooped to snooping,” you obviously do not trust your girlfriend and have real trust issues regarding her relationship with her ex.

In your girlfriend’s defense (though I am not privy to the details or circumstances surrounding their marriage relationship and breakup), it appears she and her ex are on very good terms if they can raise a child and maintain a working relationship. There are many people who can’t stand to be in the same state as their ex, let alone work in the same building. I am a firm believer that relationships do not have to end in hatred! I think this says a lot about your girlfriend and her level of maturity. I also think it is necessary for parents to get along when they are raising a child.

On the other hand, if you are thinking that your girlfriend might not really be over her ex and sent that email as a way to keep the fire warm or send mixed signals, you may need to have a conversation about her intentions and if in fact she is really ready to move on with you.

Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to [email protected]. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.