Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I ran into my ex-crush at an event last week, and I got so flustered. I had such a big crush on this man for years. We tried dating some time ago. Well, I should say that I tried to get him to date me, but it never quite happened. In the end, we stopped hanging out so things could cool off. Seeing him the other day brought all of that emotion back in a flood. I was kind and cordial. I definitely didn't do anything weird, but I realize that I still care a lot about him. How do I handle those emotions? I don't want to go back into that crazy state of trying to get him to like me again. I do not think that will work. -- All Mixed Up, Denver

DEAR ALL MIXED UP: As challenging as it may be for you, please take a deep breath and step back. Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you feel overcome by emotion, the smartest thing you can do is to be still. Do not act on that emotion. Allow it to pass rather than overtake you.

In order for you to stand a chance of having a healthy friendship with this man, you have to choose to let go of the emotional grip your bond has over you right now. Otherwise, every time you run into this man, the same thing will happen. As you assess your feelings, consider why you get so caught up. Did he do something in particular that is inexplicably attractive to you? Can you identify what triggers your emotional swell? Chances are some of the intensity is in your head, about what you wish for rather than what you have.

Choose to move forward and see what is before your eyes, not what you want to be there. This may help you to lower the intensity and enjoy the real moment.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who is a constant complainer. It seems like everybody does her wrong. I listen to her because I know that she is lonely sometimes, but I see why people get tired of being around her. Who wants to listen to complaints all the time? I don't want to be the friend who leaves her in the lurch. I just don't know if I can stick around if she never has a positive thing to say about anybody. Should I tell her? -- Emotionally Exhausted, Bronx, N.Y.

DEAR EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED: Your friend may not realize that she is a complainer. It is common for people to be the way they are without being conscious of how they are perceived. Do tell your friend that love her but are weary because of her outlook on life. Point out how often she sees the negative in things.

Ask her if she thinks she is depressed or unhappy. Perhaps her outlook is born out of a profound sadness that can be helped by professional support. You may want to suggest this to her. You can tell her frankly that, for your well-being, you cannot continue to talk to her as frequently if the tenor of your conversation remains solely a complaint.