DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend of mine has been in a serious relationship with someone for about 10 months. Their relationship progressed somewhat quickly, and I'm unsure of what to do now. She has been a close friend for a while, but since she has been in this relationship she has changed. A lot of time, people say that relationships change you for the better, but she did not change for the better. He is the only person she spends time with now, and he has gotten in the way of her work and prior commitments. I want to tell her that she is making a big mistake by being with him, but I'm afraid of how she will react to hearing this. -- From a Distance, Scarsdale, New York
DEAR FROM A DISTANCE: Often, in the beginning of relationships -- and 10 months is still fairly early on -- couples spend an inordinate amount of time together. This can be jarring for friends who used to occupy a significant amount of that time. That alone is not necessarily an indicator of a downward spiral. However, your mention of her work and prior commitments is troubling. If your friend does not go to work, arrives late regularly or performs poorly, she could lose her job. If there is a legitimate reason that you know about your friend's work habits of late, you can bring that up with her. Let her know what you have learned, and caution her to strike a balance between him and her livelihood.
If she has specifically not honored a commitment with you, bring that up and ask her what's happening. Tell her that you were disappointed that she didn't do what she said she was going to do. To the best of your ability, do not bring up her boyfriend. Instead, talk about her changing behavior patterns that make you wonder what's going on with her. Coax her thoughts to the surface, not by being judgmental, but by being an actively engaged friend. You can tell her you miss her and want to spend more time with her. Do not expect things to be as they were, though.