DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents recently met my boyfriend. They liked him well enough but thought he was too quiet. They mistook his quietness as lack of personality, even though I tried to explain that he is shy and was nervous about making a good impression. How can I get them to see what I see in him? -- Misunderstood, Lake Charles, La.
DEAR MISUNDERSTOOD: Time is the friend you need to embrace right now. Your parents may have misinterpreted your boyfriend's quietness primarily because they don't have enough information to figure out what they think about him. But what they want most is for you to be safe and happy.
Tell your parents that your boyfriend is shy, and describe what you like about him in detail. Ask them to give him a chance and to allow time for him to share more of himself with them. Schedule activities so your boyfriend can get to know your parents and vice versa. If possible, organize things to do so that you aren't just staring at one another. After a while, your boyfriend should relax, especially if your parents decide they want to get to know him.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend graciously let me stay with him for a few days in his apartment. But the whole time, he was was very rude to me. He insulted me and generally acted like a jerk. I felt as though I couldn't do anything about it, because it was his apartment and he had authority. I know he was wrong to treat me the way he did, but I was worried he'd kick me out.
What should I do about this if it happens again? Next time should I speak up? -- Jerked Around, Saginaw, Mich.
DEAR JERKED AROUND: Don't allow yourself to be put in a situation where you are mistreated like that again. Do not stay with your friend in his apartment. Figure out another place to lay your head.
Call your friend on his behavior. Tell him that while his initial offer to board you was gracious, you are shocked by the way he treated you. You owe it to yourself to let him know how disconcerting it was that he treated you so rudely. Remind him of how he behaved by providing specifics, and ask why he chose to treat you that way.
It's possible he didn't realize his behavior. People are often so caught up in their own issues that they don't realize how they are treating others. That doesn't forgive the behavior, however. Reflect back to him what he did to you, and make it clear that you didn't appreciate it.