Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Nice Guy Has Trouble Getting Out of the Friend Zone

DEAR HARRIETTE: Every time I meet a young lady and start dating her, it turns into a platonic relationship. I don't know why. I am a kind man. I am very active in my church. I treat women with respect. I have good manners. Sometimes they call me a teddy bear. I am very tall and -- I'll just say it -- a big guy. I don't want to go on and on, but I really am a nice guy. Honestly, I think that's the problem. Maybe I am too nice. It seems like the guys who are deceitful or slick always get the girls. What can I do? -- Lonely Guy, Shreveport, La.

DEAR LONELY GUY: You have not met the right woman for you -- yet. Do not give up. What many people do not realize is that there are countless men who are having trouble finding a match.

As you know, it can be challenging to find the right person. To refine your search, make a list of the qualities that you desire in a partner. Be as specific as you can. Your list will help you to weed out poor prospects.

Now, write a list about yourself. What are your best qualities? What have women told you when they relegate you to the "friend" category? Do your best to remember anything specific about the feedback you have received. You may discover something about your behavior that you can modify. Do not give up!

DEAR HARRIETTE: Your answer to Mom in Shock about how her child and a friend were running down a fellow student for wearing the same clothing several times a week could have gone a step further -- on several fronts.

Instead of a handout directly to the schoolmate and/or her family, how about contributing to a program that helps multiple children at the school in a way that won't be embarrassing to the schoolmate and/or her family. Lots of these programs let the kids "shop" for their own outfits and run less risk/possible embarrassment of wearing clothes from an easily identified source.

And this way the daughter can help multiple children by giving her outgrown and/or unwanted items and learn about being sensitive to others' feelings and self-confidence. And the daughter will learn about continuing generosity. I think this is a win-win that keeps the recipients' dignity in mind.

Sometimes a women's league or hospital thrift shop (for example) runs such programs. Or check with the Salvation Army. -- Helping Hand, Chicago

DEAR HELPING HAND: Great ideas! Empowering children and eliminating embarrassment are so important. I love the idea of letting children "shop" for their own outfits.

Further on this topic is the perspective that many of us have on people wearing clothes repeatedly. This is one reason why some schools require uniforms. This takes the competition regarding wardrobe largely out of the equation. Another idea occurred to me as well: In other countries, there is little to no stigma to people -- children and adults alike -- wearing the same clothes often. We have lots to learn.