DEAR HARRIETTE: My guy friend recently confessed his love for me. I thought he was gay our entire friendship, so naturally this came as a huge shock. I don't feel the same way and don't think I ever will. I responded very awkwardly to his confession.
Is there any nice way to say "sorry, and I don't love you back"? -- Weirded Out, Bay City, Mich.
DEAR WEIRDED OUT: Isn't it interesting how our beliefs can color the way we interact with others? You felt safe being close friends with this man because you never thought of him as a potential suitor. Now the tables have turned.
You owe it to your friend to be honest. Tell him how much you value your friendship. Acknowledge that he expressed his love for you. It's very important for you to let him know that you heard him and received what he had to say. Tell him that you like or love him, too, but not in that way. Explain that you have always considered him a dear friend but that your affection for him has been and is now platonic.
I also would tell him that you had assumed he was gay. If you have any specific reasons for thinking that, you may want to be ready to tell him, if needed.
Ultimately, you need to get your sentiment across -- that you appreciate his friendship tremendously and that you are not interested in being his girlfriend.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friends are really unsupportive of my relationship with my girlfriend. We've been dating for more than a year, and they still get mad at me if I hang out with her instead of them or sometimes even if I hang out with her after I've hung out with them. It's completely irrational, and it's like I have a bunch of girlfriends now, all demanding my time. They also aren't very nice to her if we hang out in a group. How can I fix this? -- Frustrated, Rochester, N.Y.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Sit your friends down and talk to them. Tell them that you care deeply for them AND your girlfriend. Lay it out for them that they have been behaving in a childish and unnecessary way. You do not want to have to choose between your friends and your girlfriend. You would appreciate them giving her the basic respect they would desire for their partners.
Ask them directly why they have been acting so unkindly. If they have a beef with your girlfriend, urge them to tell you exactly what it is. If they are simply jealous that she is taking you away from them, let them know that what's taking you away from them is their irrational behavior.
Of course, when you are dating, you divide your time. But if they continue to be rude, you may have to choose to step away from them. Ask them if that's what they want.