Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Trust Eroded by Decades-Old Affair

DEAR HARRIETTE: I learned the other day that my best friend from back home had an affair with my boyfriend from high school. Yes, this happened years ago, but still. How gross! It came up in conversation the other day when we were reminiscing. We have remained close for all these years, and I can't believe she would do that to me.

I am having all kinds of feelings about this, which I figure is stupid. We are in our 40s now. But I can't help but wonder if she has done other things to deceive me. How do I find out? -- Deceived, Saginaw, Mich.

DEAR DECEIVED: Because she is such a longtime friend, assume the positive. Ask your friend why she told you about the affair now. Tell her that her revelation has thrown you emotionally and that you are not yet steady. Ask if there is anything else she has kept from you that you should know. Be honest with her, and if you feel you need to have a little space from her, make that clear.

Then try your best to forgive her. No one can change the actions of the past. What you can do is align yourself with your friend and agree to put the past behind you -- that is, unless something else comes up that you have to address.

I would avoid asking questions about the affair. It is much wiser to live in the present if you want harmony in your life.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in an apartment building, and my next-door neighbor is so loud that I can hear him whenever he is in his apartment. The walls are thin in our building, and I think he doesn't have any carpeting. Plus, he keeps very different hours from me. He is keeping me up and driving me crazy.

How can I address his loudness? I don't want to upset him, but honestly, he is frustrating me to no end. -- On the Brink, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR ON THE BRINK: Start with a positive outlook. There is a good chance your neighbor does not realize how loud and disturbing he is, especially if you have not mentioned it to him.

Knock on his door and ask if you can chat for a minute. Then tell him that you are having trouble sleeping and getting any peace because you can hear his every move. Ask if he would be willing to help you by being more mindful of his noise levels.

Ask if he has carpeting, and if he does not, encourage him to put down a few rugs. Be as specific as you can about what might help you to be more comfortable.