Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend Chooses to Shoot the Messenger

DEAR HARRIETTE: A close friend's boyfriend recently broke up with her. She was devastated, as she should have been. He broke up with her because he wanted to do his own thing and felt they spent too much time together. During their relationship, she was always complaining about what was lacking and how they argued too much. He had said for weeks that he needed his space, and her response would always be, "Do you want to break up?" Well now they have.

My advice to her was to take care of her emotions, but she didn't want to hear that. She told me that I "tapped out" of her situation, meaning I was over it, which isn't true. I was concerned about my friend. I just had no other advice to give because she knew the breakup was coming, and I'm cautious when speaking to her because she's never been one to handle the unconditional truth. Can you please tell me what I did wrong in this situation? -- Saddened, Chicago

DEAR SADDENED: As a friend, your job is to be a good listener. In times like these, nobody wins, especially the supportive friend. Where you were wrong was in giving any advice at all. Because your friend is hurt, she needs to lash out at someone. She cannot reach him, so she is taking it out on you.

What you could have done would be to tell her you love her and how sorry you are that her relationship ended. If she asked you for advice, you could have deflected and said that you did not have an answer for what she should do, but you want her to know that she does not have to be alone as she heals from this loss.

What you can do now is check in with her and find out how she is doing. Ask her if she would like to get together. See if you can create activities that you two can do together that will be soothing for her and not focused on him.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband is 45 years old, and he is addicted to playing video games. Every two weeks, my husband spends almost one-fourth of his paycheck on the latest games. He is a hard worker, and playing video games is a way for him to unwind. Still, I would like for my husband to spend less time playing the video games and more time taking his wife out. -- What a Wife Wants, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR WHAT A WIFE WANTS: Rather than disparaging him for playing the video games -- which will only make him annoyed -- lure him away with an invitation to go on a date. Establish "date night" once a week with him where you two do something fun. Select activities that you believe he will enjoy. If he gets into hanging out with you again, he may choose to play video games less.