DEAR HARRIETTE: I have decided that I do not want to stay friends with one of the people I started hanging out with a lot last year. This woman is always loud and obnoxious. I don't really like that behavior. I'm pretty quiet and keep to myself. It's weird that we even started hanging out, but we did because she lives in my building and we see each other a lot. She can be very thoughtful, but the loudness and cursing drive me nuts. I know I can't expect her to change her behavior simply because I don't like it, but I am weary of being around her. She is so inflammatory. I want peace in my life this year. How do I go about separating myself from her? -- Seeking Peace, Detroit
DEAR SEEKING PEACE: You may not need to excommunicate this woman completely, especially since you two live in the same building. What you can do is to set boundaries. Limit your engagements with her. Do not invite her to come over to visit. Do not be as available to visit with her as you were in the past. Decline invitations to go out with her if you are worried about her embarrassing behavior.
If she asks you why you aren't spending as much time with her, you can say that you are busy. Or you could be more forthcoming and tell her that you are choosing to be quiet in the New Year. You don't have to spell it out more than that. Your withdrawal from her should spell it out over time.