DEAR HARRIETTE: I ran into a woman I've grown very fond of in recent years. Between work and taking care of my family, I had not seen her for quite some time. I realize that I hardly get to see any of my friends. We talk on the phone but don't get together much. When I saw this woman, she greeted me in a standoffish way, saying, "You don't love me. I haven't seen you in a year." I hugged her anyway and said that it was great to see her. But she continued to try to make me feel bad for not getting together with her sooner. Honestly, I just wanted to walk away. Why not just be in the present? We saw each other and that was great for me, but not for her. How do you handle a situation like that? -- Needy Friend, Detroit
DEAR NEEDY FRIEND: Chances are the woman in question does not have as busy a life as you, so your absence from her life feels greater than it does to you. You did the right thing by not falling into her trap of trying to make you feel guilty for not being more attentive to her.
If she is a friend whom you want to keep close, you may need to rethink what you can manage to do that will make her feel happy about your friendship. That could mean creating a standing date once a quarter or so when you get together, either the two of you or a small group of mutual friends. If she is not someone you choose to keep in your inner circle, just remain gracious.