Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Religious Difference Could Split Couple

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in college, and I am in a relationship with a great guy. However, there is one huge problem: He is a Mormon, and he wants me to become a Mormon as well. I have always respected him and his beliefs because I love him, but I do not want to convert. Deep down I find the religion somewhat comical. How do I tell him that I do not want to convert? I am afraid it can ruin the relationship, and I fear that this will cause us to break up. -- Not Religious, Boston

DEAR NOT RELIGIOUS: As you contemplate your next steps, it is very important for you to be respectful of your boyfriend's religion. Right now you are being judgmental, which is a surefire way to end your relationship.

I can tell you that many people who are deeply religious strongly urge their partners to convert to their religion. There is merit in that -- it's easier to build a family with shared values. Though you are in college, since you are getting serious with this young man you need to consider what you want your future to look like. What are your values? What is important to you in a relationship? As you think of family? As you consider how you want to live your life, talk to your boyfriend about it. Whether he ends up being the one or not, it is smart for you to be open and honest about who you are and what matters to you.

Ask him about his beliefs. Get him to talk to you about his religion, what he believes and why. Without judgment, listen to see if there is common ground.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends is really close with a girl I hate. She is inconsiderate, obnoxious and condescending. Everyone else who is also friends with my best friend cannot stand this friend either. Recently, my best friend asked why I always avoid activities when we are in a group setting. I don't know how to tell her that I want to avoid this girl. I don't want to hurt my best friend's feelings. How do I deal with this situation? -- Alienated, Syracuse, N.Y.

DEAR ALIENATED: Why not tell your friend the truth? She may not realize how uncomfortable you and other friends are because of that other person's behavior. Let her know that you do not like being in this person's company because it of her attitude.

I would like to take this a step further and suggest that there is no reason why you cannot speak directly to this other person. What you are now doing is bottling up negative energy about her. Saying that you "hate" her is strong. Let go of the hate, and empower yourself by speaking up to her the next time she says something inappropriate or insulting. Ask her to stop with the disparaging comments or keep her distance.