DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine just lost her job, and it happened in a really embarrassing way. I feel so bad for her. She is a good egg, even though it's questionable whether she was good at the job she had. Still, a lot of people know she got fired, and she's very sad.
As her good friend, I want to support her, but I'm not sure how. She has stood up well under pressure so far, but I don't know how to approach her. I think it's different when you are close to someone. Oddly, I think it makes it tougher to talk about what's going on.
I want to help. How can I? -- Supportive, Toledo, Ohio
DEAR SUPPORTIVE: Losing a job is one of the most difficult experiences to weather. That your friend's job loss was public in some way only makes it more challenging to move through, because her ego is involved. Honestly, it doesn't matter how tough she is -- the blow has to hurt. There is no guarantee that your friend will accept your overtures, but it's definitely worth it to try. Reach out and ask her if she would like to go out and have some fun. In the first few days of her job loss, it's unlikely that she would want to talk about what happened, but she may be happy for a diversion. Offer that to her. Your help may be your ability to be the great neutralizer. Just be present and give your friend the space she needs to decide whether she wants to just hang out, or to be emotional and possibly talk about the situation.
Remain an active listener. Give NO evaluation. Just be present and loving toward her. For now, that's what she needs most.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have not had a boyfriend in three years. Now that I have met someone whom I like and who likes me a lot, I'm not sure how to proceed.
I know he likes me, but I don't know what he wants next in a relationship. We have had a great time together, going all kinds of places, meeting each other's families and being slow at intimacy. I like all of that. But I'm not sure what's next.
He knows I want to get married in order to take things to the next step, but I'm not sure I want to marry him. Oh, I don't know what to do! -- Scared Stuck, Chicago
DEAR SCARED STUCK: You have to start with your own needs, desires and values. What do you want right now? Do you want to get married to this man? Do you want to have an intimate relationship with him? Do you want him to act like a chivalrous gentleman? Figure out what you want -- and then tell him what it is.
From there you can figure out if he can deliver.