Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Working on Working on It

DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-boyfriend and I have been broken up for a couple of months now, but we are "working on it." I love him, but working on it isn't enough. Recently, I have been flirting and spending phone and text time with another gentleman. I am really feeling him. He lives in another state and thinks I no longer speak to my ex, and he definitely doesn't know we are "working on it." He is coming to visit me soon, and I feel I should tell him the status of my ex and me -- what do you think? -- Teetering, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR TEETERING: Ever heard of the saying, "First things first"? This applies here. You need to handle your business. Do you want to be finished with the relationship with your ex-boyfriend? If so, end it. Tell him you don't want to "work on it," that it is over for you. Make a complete and clean break. Once you have ended that commitment, you have space to figure out if this other guy or someone else is worthy of your time and attention.

As far as the timing of this other guy's visit, if you have not finalized your relationship before he is expected to come, you should tell him that the relationship isn't over. You may want to recommend that he postpone his trip until you have gotten your house in order.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a senior with two classes left, which I'm finishing online. My graduation will be in my home state. My close friend is graduating as well, and hers is before mine. Of course I am proud of her, but her graduation party is becoming too consuming. I said I'd help plan and handle whatever I can, but now I am back in school. She has an attitude because I wasn't able to make it to a cake testing due to exams and is mad because I can't take work off the day of her party, even though I'll be there on time. Can you please give me advice on how to settle this? -- Stretched Too Thin, Chicago

DEAR STRETCHED TOO THIN: You need to manage expectations here. Sit your friend down and talk to her about what's going on in the coming days. Let her know how much you love her and how much you want to support her. And make it clear that you can do only so much. Be direct and specific about how you can help.

Let her know that because you, too, are headed toward graduation and finishing up classes, your time is limited. Ask for her understanding and support. She may remain mad, but at least you will have stated your situation as clearly as you are able.