DEAR HARRIETTE: Recently, my girlfriend and I were talking and she was being unresponsive. She wasn't really answering my questions. A couple hours later, she was fine again. I thought maybe she was upset, but she just kept saying everything was fine.
Should I have pushed the issue more if I thought she was upset, or just let it go until she was ready to talk about it? -- Confused, Laredo, Texas
DEAR CONFUSED: You already know that you can't get someone to say or do anything that he or she doesn't want to say or do. So pushing your girlfriend to answer you when she doesn't want to will usually have the same result.
What you can do is establish parameters for conversation with your girlfriend. Tell her that it makes you feel uncomfortable to talk when she does not respond. Acknowledge that pressuring her to respond is likely annoying to her. Ask if the two of you can come up with a workable solution that is respectful to both of you.
One idea is to suggest that you tell each other when you would like to talk. Ask if the other is free to talk at that time. If not, ask if you can talk a bit later. Schedule a time when you agree to pay attention to each other.
What may have happened in your situation is your girlfriend was distracted because she was doing something else or not interested in listening at that time. Instead of getting upset, schedule face time. It works.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently discovered there is someone who may be interested in me. He seems nice, and I'd like to be friends with him, but I have a boyfriend. Can I be his friend without implying that I want something more? -- Sought After, Jackson, Miss.
DEAR SOUGHT AFTER: It's nice to know that someone is interested in you. If this person seeks you out and makes an overture, feel free to respond to him, letting him know that you like him, too, and would enjoy being his friend. Say upfront that you are in a relationship and that you are happy.
It's important to be clear about this, because if your suitor has taken his time drumming up the courage to approach you, he may not be listening clearly. If he is looking at you through star-crossed eyes, he may magnify and misinterpret any glimmer of interest from you.
A great way to set the record straight from the beginning is to invite him to a gathering of friends that includes your boyfriend. Introduce them and make him a part of the group, rather than a one-on-one friend. That way the message should come through loud and clear. Good luck.