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Dear readers and forum members:

Thank you so much for the Ask April Relationship Advice Forum. What a warm and welcoming community!

Due to the demands of launching my new company, AIFI (American Initiative for Film Industry Research Institute & Development Council), I'm so sorry to say that I must suspend forum activity.

I wish you all the very best, always.

April
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[Standard] hang ups

#1
hi april. ok so as you see we've been together for 6 months, friends with her for 2 years prior. what has been bothering me is a long story but ill keep it short. she has this painting over her bed of person/portrait she seems to be obsessed with it, which i don't mind it's a nice painting. but i recently saw on her instagram that she posted that painting a year ago with the captions "i'm in love with you😍". it doesn't bother me that it's on social media. but it does bother me she keeps it on her wall and still talks about it. i have asked her about the painting prior to seeing the " i'm in love you". and she said it's nothing. so i let it go. but more and more she keeps mentioning the painting and sometimes catches her self and abruptly stops talking about it. my question is should i forget about, should i talk to her about it, if so how should i go about it? she's very defensive and sensitive. i do sense that it is an ex boyfriend who has abused her but she still is not over. i am in love with her and want a future with her. she also tells me the same. thanks.

p.s. there is some more back story, but i'll leave it at that for now.

Re: [Standard] hang ups

#2
Yes, you should talk to her about this painting and it's meaning to her. You've been dating for six months, and since you both want to continue and see if you can make a future together, learning more about each other, and about what's important to you both, is going to create intimacy and build a strong relationship. So, yes, yes, yes -- definitely talk to her about how important this painting is to her, and the meaning behind the importance.

How to do it may be tricky because you want to keep the channel of communication open -- especially if this painting has some old relationship significance. So, don't speak negatively about the painting, any exes or the painter. Negativity will shut her down. Instead, you might want to start by telling her that you really like the painting. Talk a little bit about it in a positive way. See if she opens up a little. If she doesn't, ask her about the painter -- does she know them? How? Was the painting a gift? Something she purchased somewhere? Keep it open and honest. If you feel that she's closing up or she shuts down quickly, drop it for a while, and wait a few days and when things are in a good place, tell her you'd like to be able to talk to her about things without making her feel badly, and is there a way that she can help you talk about the painting with her?

Another tact is to take her to an art museum for a date. Just enjoy the art and talk about the paintings. Chances are, she'll open up about the painting she has at home, once art becomes a conversation topic between the two of you.

I know it bothers you that she has feelings for a painting you know nothing about, but if she can open up and share her feelings with you -- even if they're about her past, you may not feel so excluded, and that may make you feel better about the fact that you both have pasts. And if you're still feeling jealous, you can tell her that you hope that you can give her something one day that she feels that strongly about, as well.

I hope that helps!
April Masini is a relationship and etiquette expert, author of 4 books and the #1 relationship advice forum, blue-chip corporate spokesperson and preferred go-to source for the world’s most prominent media and news outlets.