DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my friends I've been hanging with has shown me her true colors. All she does is complain about everyone and everything. I don't agree with her on any of it, but out of fear that she'll get upset, I keep quiet. We are in a group project together with another friend. Whenever we meet up, she is constantly shutting down our ideas and pointing out our weaknesses. I want to go about it gently because it is clear she has insecurity issues, but I don't even know where to begin. Help! It is becoming unbearable! -- Done, Syracuse, N.Y.
DEAR DONE: With the other partner on this project, sit down and talk to your friend. You can be clear and kind. Tell her that you are growing concerned about the way she interacts with the group. Point out that she is often negative and that she constantly complains. Suggest that you agree on a delineation of duties that will make it easier for everyone to get the work done without squabbling.
You cannot allow her to keep complaining because you're worried about her self-esteem. What about your own? By allowing her to walk all over you and your other partner, you are actually diminishing your own power, which erodes self-confidence. Tell her that if she wants to be on this team, she has to work harder at being a positive contributor to the work at hand.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been dating a handsome guy for a few weeks. He is such a gentleman. We enjoy spending time with each other, and I can truly say that I'm finally happy. I think he's the one for me.
I asked my boyfriend if he would like to come to church with me. He told me that he works on Sundays, and I told him that going to church is very important to me and that he would have a great time.
A few weeks later, my boyfriend finally told me the reason he does not want to go to church with me. He does not believe in God, nor does he believe in organized religion.
I want to continue this relationship, and I don't know what to do. This is a tough decision, and I need your help. Whom do I choose? -- Torn, Chicago
DEAR TORN: This is one of the toughest situations to navigate. There are successful couples who do not share the same spiritual ideology or practice. I think, however, that they are the exception rather than the rule. Why? Because religious convictions tend to reflect the core values that people hold. When you have a partner and are serious about being together, you want to share values about the basics of life, which usually include faith.
Rather than walking away immediately, talk to your boyfriend about his beliefs and values. Share yours with him. Talk openly about your hopes and dreams for the future, including what you envision married life to be like. It's time for you to lay it out and ask him to do the same. Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment and confusion based on a lack of understanding of who you both are.