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“Sami has been my best friend for over a decade. She said she never wanted to be tied down, but that changed last year when she met Hans. Sami really fell for him, and he seemed to feel the same about her. After about six months of what looked to me like crazy, happy, almost all the time togetherness – including sheltering together at Sami’s during this pandemic – Hans left Sami last week for a meditation instructor. Sami’s totally depressed and not herself. What can I do to help her get Hans back?”...

“I’ve been dating an artist for three months and we’re really good together in many ways. We have great discussions and he takes my opinions seriously, which is a refreshing change. I like Craig a lot, but there is something about him that’s really hard to take. If he says he’ll call on Monday, he might not call until Wednesday. If he’s supposed to pick me up at 6:00 pm, sometimes he doesn’t show up until 7:00 pm.”...

“I’ve been dating Skip ever since we met at a friend’s party about six months ago and it’s been a blast! He’s funny, outgoing, and really exciting to be with. The problem is that I’m also funny and outgoing, so there are many times when we seem to be competing for the spotlight. We aren’t seeing other people anymore, but do we have a chance of staying together?”...

“My brother Joe is in his early forties and works as a cook, which is just his “day job.” His passion is music and playing guitar. About a year ago, Joe met a woman who runs a nursing home. Carol is close to his age, kind and caring, but also very exacting in how she approaches things. Since Joe moved in with Carol, he has changed in very positive ways. He’s less scattered, more organized, and even thinking about going back to college. I’m wondering if there is anything we can do to help Joe in his relationship with Carol. She is so good for him.”...

“I’m writing because I had the great misfortune to fall in love with a wonderfully funny and outgoing guy. It’s been a whirlwind of activity, which is so not me. All of my well-ordered ways seem to have gone out the window since Tad’s been in my life. And while part of me finds this exciting, another part is afraid that I’m losing who I am.”...

Dear Vicki: My husband of 15 years and I divorced two years ago. It was his choice and very difficult for me; I crawled into a hole for quite some time. Recently, I’ve started dating a nice fellow I’ll call Tom, but I’m having trouble figuring him out. Sometimes he’s sensitive and caring, and sometimes he’s aloof and distant. When he’s in his caring place, we get along great. But when he’s off on his own, I tend to drift away, too, which I don’t think speaks well for a future together. I do love time alone – I’m an art therapist so enjoy my painting – and Tom is an attorney who spends a great deal of time at work. Do you think we have a chance of making it work? Signed, Can This Work Dear Can This Work: First, let me say that I pretty much believe any relationship can “make it” if both parties understand the dynamics of their connection and are willing to work with them. There will be ups and downs, of course, but these can be predicted based on your elemental personalities. Knowing what your personal tendencies are in a relationship will always help build on the ups and smooth over the downs. It sounds to me like you may have a primary Water personality given your love for art and an appreciation of time alone to paint. Creativity of all kinds sits in the Water element. But the fact that you use your talent to work as a therapist suggests that you also have a strong amount of Earth energy in your personality, too. Earth people love helping others, and they also value home and family. Your concern about being able to “make it work” with Tom speaks to a desire for a long-term relationship, which is also very important to Earth people. As an attorney, it’s very likely that Tom has a primary Metal personality because it takes an appreciation of detail and hierarchy to practice law. Metal people also require time alone to work, which would explain his tendency to distance himself from you at times. And when Metal people become overworked or tired, they can come off as aloof, so I think it’s a pretty good guess that Tom is a primary Metal personality. However, his sensitivity and caring with you suggests a good amount of Earth energy in his personality, too.  Bottom line: In your relationship with Tom he brings Metal and Earth personality tendencies and you bring Water and Earth personality tendencies. The good news is that this can be a great relationship! In the Five Elements model, Metal and Water relate on the Nurturing Cycle, as do Earth and Metal. This means that his Metal energy will feed your Water and your Earth energy will feed his Metal. The result of this type of connection is that both of you could feel very supported by your relationship. However, you also have relationship interactions on the Controlling Cycle of the Five Elements model. In this...

Dear Vicki: I started dating a guy last spring and we connected immediately. Jack is a super outgoing guy who does voice over work and is lots of fun to be around. We laughed and had tons of fun all summer. It was perfect and seemed to get better and better, so I thought he might be the one. But as winter rolled in, it seems like he’s drifting away. We did a few things around the holidays, but now he says he’s really busy and will call later, but he never does. I’m really busy too – I’ve just started a career as a nurse – but I still have time to reach out to him. When I do, he says he’ll get back to me, but nothing. It’s rude of him, I know, but I really loved being with him. What did I do that drove him away, and what if he never comes back? Signed, Nervous in New York Dear Nervous in New York: I am so sorry you find yourself in this difficult situation. It’s never easy to be in a relationship that is changing in a way that you don’t want, so let’s take a look at what might be going on between you and Jack. As a nurse, it seems very likely that you are a primary Earth personality. The caring and desire to do for others that nurses embody is characteristic of the Earth personality. As for Jack, the intensity with which you connected last spring, as well as his occupation as a voice over actor, suggest that he is probably a primary Fire personality. Intensity, especially around relationships, is not uncommon with Fire people, and most forms of acting usually come naturally to them. In the Five Elements model, Fire and Earth relate on what is called the Nurturing Cycle, with Fire feeding Earth. That would explain why the relationship felt so good to you. It probably even felt natural to Jack for a time. In nature, an earthen hearth is a very comfortable container for Fire’s energy, at least in the beginning. So what’s going on now? In the good news department, Earth and Fire personalities both care deeply about connections. The bad news is that Earth people usually want long-term connections while Fire people are usually into more intense, short-term connections. So as an Earth personality, you are more likely to see the beauty of a developing relationship, while Jack’s Fire personality will revel in the fun and intensity of the initial contact and be less interested in a long-term thing. This doesn’t mean that Fire people can’t have long-term connections; they certainly can. But what an ideal long-term relationship looks like for a primary Fire person will be very different from what an ideal long-term relationship looks like for a primary Earth person. In truth, over time you might have tired of the relationship with Jack. As I said, initially an Earth personality can be a comfortable fit for a Fire personality – and the Fire person...

Dear Vicki: I’m writing because I’m pretty sure that my best friend’s boyfriend is cheating on her. Bev and I have been besties since grade school. She’s sweet and kind, loves people and animals, and is studying to be a nurse. She and Jake (who spends more time skiing or playing ball than studying for the college business classes we share) have been together for a year and she’s convinced he’s “the one.” The problem is that lately I’ve seen Jake hanging with Ellie, the “hot” girl from our high school class, a lot. I’ve hinted at it to Bev, but she just smiles and says they’re old friends. They certainly look like more than friends to me, which really makes me angry! So what do I do? I want to shake Bev and tell her she deserves better than Jake. Why can’t she see it? Signed: Loyal Friend   Dear Loyal Friend: Bev is very lucky to have a friend like you. And as her friend, you are definitely in a difficult place. The relationship between Bev and Jake is private; it’s really no body’s business but theirs how they handle it. That said, it does sound like Bev believes it’s a monogamous relationship and Jake may have different ideas. The other issue at stake is your relationship with Bev. You do risk looking like you’re butting in if you pursue this too strongly. The last thing anyone in love wants to hear is that their best friend thinks their boyfriend is a jerk. So, you need to tread lightly here. But treading lightly doesn’t mean doing nothing, so let’s take a look at the relationship dynamics at play between you, Bev, and Jake and see what might make sense. Your description of Bev indicates that she is clearly an Earth personality. Earths are usually sweet and kind, they usually do love people and animals, and they make wonderful nurses (and friends). You and Jake, on the other hand, both sound like Wood personalities. Your anger over Jake’s potential betrayal of your friend is characteristically Wood. Jake’s interest in Ellie, the popular girl from high school, is also characteristic of a Wood. Being important matters to Woods and they often borrow their importance from the people with whom they associate. Dating the hot girl could definitely make Jake feel good about himself. Finally, Woods are frequently drawn to business as an occupation – hard work can create significant personal success – so it makes sense as a career path for both you and Jake. Bev relates to Jake (and you) on the Controlling Cycle of the Five Elements model. But as we’ve said before, Controlling Cycle relationships with Earth people are different than with the other elemental personalities. Wood people do not decrease or minimize Earth people. Instead, they help stabilize them just as trees on a hill help stabilize the earth. Bev may appreciate both you and Jake for your abilities to provide structure and order in her life. In her relationship...

Dear Vicki: My partner Cam and I have been together for five years. We’ve seen each other through college graduations, lost jobs, new jobs, multiple apartment moves, you name it. We both take our careers seriously (me as an investment banker, Cam as a sous chef), but I think I drive myself more than he does. Anyway, his family is having a first-ever extended family reunion next month (probably 100 people or so) and he’s excited to go. I, on the other hand, would rather take a pass. It will involve out of state travel, a day away from work, and spending lots of time with people I’ve never met. Of course, I know the right thing to do is to go with Cam, and that’s what he wants, but it seems like a colossal waste of time for me. Work is particularly busy right now and I can think of a dozen things I’d rather do with free time, especially catch up on projects at work. I wouldn't expect him to go to my family reunion (if we even had one), so how can I explain to him that I think he should go enjoy his family on his own? Signed: Busy in Bentonville   Dear Busy: Unless they have a lot of Fire energy, few people look forward to spending time with a crowd of strangers. Fire energy loves the excitement of connecting with new people, especially in a fun surrounding, and you clearly are not a primary Fire personality. Given that you mention some aspect of work five times in your letter, I suspect you are a Wood personality; career success and getting ahead really matter to Wood people. Also, Woods like predictability in their life and environments, so a large gathering of strangers will seem chaotic to a Wood. It’s no surprise you would rather take a pass. However, being in a committed relationship means that sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do for the sake of your partner, so let’s see if this might be one of those times. Given that the family reunion is important to Cam, and his profession involves a love of food, it’s a pretty easy guess that he has a lot of Earth energy. Earth people not only love food, they love family and deep, long-term connections. In fact, weaving people together in a web of strong connection brings great joy to Earths. His family is important to him, and you are important to him, so sharing the reunion with you will likely be pretty important to Cam. But I think there’s more to consider here than just whether you go to the reunion or not. I think it’s important to step back and take stock of the dynamics in your relationship with Cam and how your refusal to go with him might impact your connection. In the Five Elements model, your Wood energy and his Earth energy relate via the Controlling Cycle, with your Wood controlling his Earth. Usually, the impact...