Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a gay guy. I've been hooking up with one of my friends who is bisexual. We have a great time together, whether being intimate or just hanging out.

We know that it isn't serious and let each other see other people. However, when I say "other people," I'm thinking about people not in our group of friends. Recently I found out that he is also hooking up with a girl in our group. She and I are good friends, and she doesn't know about my intimate relationship with him.

I don't know if I should tell her or have him tell her. I don't like drama, but I seem to be right in the middle of it. What can I do so our group doesn't explode into pieces? -- Betwixt, Jacksonville, Fla.

DEAR BETWIXT: It's time to regroup with your lover. You assumed there were boundaries, without defining them, that would not be crossed in your intimate relationship. It's time to address this.

Tell your lover that it makes you uncomfortable that he is intimately involved with someone who is part of your inner group of friends. Explain that you assumed you both would limit any other intimacies to people who were not part of your life.

Tell him you feel extremely awkward because you are close friends with the girl in question and you don't believe she is aware of your relationship with him. Ask him to tell her.

If he refuses, you need to decide your next steps. This will take some personal assessment. What do you feel comfortable divulging? Would you feel as if you had betrayed her if you didn't tell her? Do you want to date him if he won't stop seeing her? Figure out your answers to those questions and then act decisively.

DEAR HARRIETTE: When my children used curse words (purposefully or not), I clearly emphasized that they should use the wonderful education this country affords them.

I handed them a thesaurus and told them to look up a word that "spoke" of how they felt and to give me another example of how they could express themselves. It expanded their vocabularies, and being well versed at any age is empowering. Children too young to understand the "word" will also misinterpret the punishment.

Impressing upon them that certain words are socially unacceptable and that using them limits opportunities is a more tangible way to encourage better behavior and word power! -- Wise Mama, New York

DEAR WISE MAMA: I am a big believer in using the dictionary and thesaurus for expanding knowledge and vocabulary. I love the notion of enlightenment rather than punishment.

One thing I learned as a young person was that profanity is lazy language. Your idea of replacing profane words with specific adjectives that can better express feelings is on point. Thanks for sharing!