Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Breaking Up Usually Means Spending Time Apart

DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend and her longtime boyfriend broke up recently. They've been friends for so long that they say they can't not talk to each other. She says none of their talking is romantic, but I told her I'm worried she'll get hurt because it's impossible to get over someone without a little space. They still talk every day. What's your opinion on the situation? -- Concerned, Washington, D.C.

DEAR CONCERNED: I agree that distance is often a healer in relationships. It is wise for couples who break up to spend time apart from each other to heal and redefine themselves. This is particularly true for couples who have been together a long time.

That said, it is not within your purview or power to convince them to cool it with their communication. Who knows what is next for them? Perhaps they will be able to talk through their issues and find clarity on why they broke up and whether they intend to stay just friends or try again. Perhaps one or both of them will get their feelings hurt when new love interests come on the scene.

You cannot protect your friend from her fate. If she asks your opinion, you can give it. Make sure you are clear when talking to her that what you are offering is just that: an opinion. If things backfire, bite your tongue and do not say, "I told you so." Instead, be a good friend by being a compassionate listener.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my friends overshares on Facebook. He recently posted his GPA, which wasn't great, along with a message about how it has inspired him to do better. He has also said on Facebook that he has never been kissed. I think things like that are too personal to post on the Internet for everyone to see. Should I talk to him, or is it his prerogative to post whatever he wants? -- Privacy Please, Chicago

DEAR PRIVACY PLEASE: Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could get your friends to heed your advice? Unfortunately, it doesn't often happen. Don't give up yet, though.

Ask your friend to have a chat with you. Mention your concern over the amount of personal information he shares via social media and how it could backfire on him as it relates to continuing his education, getting a job or being taken seriously. Point out also that posting about his love life, or lack thereof, can easily attract stalkers or other undesirables. Suggest that he have these conversations with his friends rather than his cyberfriends. A cyberconversation about personal intimacies can backfire too quickly.

After you share your thoughts, back off. He is an individual with the right to post what he chooses. He may be comfortable with his personal postings and choose to continue. If he does, your next step can be to stop engaging him via social media so that you avoid being a participant in his drama.