DEAR HARRIETTE: I got an email from someone asking me to participate in a business project with him. He said he was referred to me by a woman with whom I used to work. She did not reach out to me. He did directly. I signed his nondisclosure and have been inching toward working with him, but something seems off. First of all, he doesn't seem business-savvy. But since she referred him, I want to give him a chance. Am I wrong to do that? -- Unsure, Shreveport, La.
DEAR UNSURE: Right after you heard from this man -- and before signing a nondisclosure -- you should have called your friend to check his references. Just because he said she recommended him doesn't mean it's so. This man could be borrowing on your friend's name.
I prefer referrals to be direct. If I refer someone, I pick up the phone or send an email and say as much.
You are where you are. Stop now and contact your friend. Find out what she knows about him. Even more, trust your instincts. If you don't think he's a match for you, move on.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I like your common-sense advice and enjoy reading your responses in the Chicago Tribune.
I had another thought about your answer to "Cold Feet" (the man who broke it off with his fiancee because she was unwilling to help take care of his children). We don't have both sides of the story, and he doesn't specify who ended the engagement. It could have been the girlfriend because he may have expected her, as a female, to take over parenting duties and was trying to cut out the mom.
I say that as a legal aid attorney who has represented mostly women in divorce/custody cases for almost 25 years. I am also a stepmom with a very close relationship to my husband's daughter. I did lots of "kid duty" when she was small.
You were right to praise "Cold Feet" for putting his kids first, and I hope that's the case, but something didn't ring quite true about his letter. -- Skeptical, Chicago
DEAR SKEPTICAL: I have received a number of letters regarding this situation. Your voice is an important addition.
It is possible that this man was not being fully forthcoming. Custody battles can be intense, calculating and ugly. Let's hope that's not the case here.
I maintain that any potential spouse of a parent with children must accept responsibility for supporting the children emotionally and more.