Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a twin sister. We have never been attracted to the same types of men, which has really helped us through the years to avoid conflicts. Now I find myself interested in one of her exes. They dated years ago for a very brief time, and he recently asked me out for dinner. I don't know what to do. Please help! -- On the Fence, Washington, D.C.

DEAR ON THE FENCE: Check in with your sister. Tell her that this man called you and asked you out, and ask her if she is OK with that. She may not care at all. But it is wise to find out. The last thing you want is to get involved with your sister's ex and hurt her feelings. A date is not worth damaging your relationship with sister.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I ran into a financial snag a few years ago, and a dear friend bailed me out. She said I didn't have to pay her back because that's what friends are for. But now that I have the money, I want to pay her back anyway. As I was thinking about how to broach the subject with her, I remembered that she told me that if and when I do come into the money that I should pay it forward. Do you think I should ask her if she has a favorite charity or something where I can donate the money? Or should I pick one and tell her that I was able to do it. I want her to know that I'm on good footing now and that I want to do right by the investment she made in me. -- Pay it Forward, Boston

DEAR PAY IT FORWARD: It is likely that your friend wants only the best for you and does not need to know about how you are using the money that you now have to contribute. She gave you that leg up when you needed it with no strings attached to her.

Will she be happy to hear about your stability and ability to pay it forward? Yes, because it shows that you are in a good place in your life and that you are thinking of others. Rather than asking her where you should send the money, do your own research. Is there someone in your life who is in financial need and whom you can help discreetly? If so, go ahead and offer the person the money he/she needs and give the same mandate -- when possible, pay it forward.

Next, reach out to your friend through a handwritten note and thank her again for her generosity several years ago when you were in financial straits. Tell her that you are now in a good place and that you took her advice and helped someone else who needed support. You can follow up with a call to check in, but a note will concretize the gravity of the situation and reveal your completion of the cycle of giving in a beautiful way.