Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: What is the proper length of time for a best friend to begin seeing her best friend's ex? Although I broke off the relationship primarily because of his verbal and emotional abuse, am I wrong to be upset if they start seeing each other two days later and then call me to tell me what a great time they had together? She says they are only friends, but it seems everywhere I go (places she and I used to go together), they are always there, and I am the one left alone. Not only have I lost someone I used to care for, but I have also lost my best friend. -- Alone, Racine, Mich.

DEAR ALONE: I can only imagine the pain that you are feeling right now, on so many levels. The abuse that you suffered with your ex-boyfriend is enough to send you reeling. For that to be exacerbated by what seems like a blatant betrayal on your best friend's part is understandably devastating.

You should be upset. Your "best friend" is behaving in her own selfish interest right now with no regard for you. It could be that your ex is quite the charmer. Often, people who inflict abuse upon others are masterful at luring in new prey. Still, that does not excuse your friend.

You have every right to tell her that you feel she has betrayed your friendship. Ask her, at the very least, to stop going to the places where you used to go together. Ask her to have that modicum of respect for you. Sadly, you have to move on, past both of these two souls. I recommend that you go to therapy and work through your own demons so that you can find your way to healthier relationships all around. You deserve to be loved and respected.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is having a birthday soon (turning 11), and he is inviting a few friends to a sleepover. One friend has a twin brother. He has made it clear that he does not want to invite that boy. He says that whenever this boy is around, bad things happen. I feel uncomfortable about inviting only half of a pair of twins. I feel like I should then tell the mother why we aren't inviting her other child. I do think she knows that this boy gets rambunctious. But I am uncomfortable. On the other hand, I do want to teach my child how to be discriminating about his friends. What should I do? Maybe don't invite the other boy either, even though they are close? -- Treading Lightly, Washington, D.C.

DEAR TREADING LIGHTLY: That your son is thinking through what may happen with his friends at his party is smart. It means you are teaching him well. You can continue the conversation first with your son, asking him if he thinks it is thoughtful to invite one twin and not the other.

If you reach the conclusion that he truly wants to invite only one, your job as the mom is to reach out to the twins' mom and tell her that your son is inviting just the one boy to this small party. You do not need to explain why unless she asks.