Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend Who Feels Used Wants Recognition

DEAR HARRIETTE: I helped a friend get a lot of attention for a project she just completed. Everything turned out really well for her, but in the end I felt used. She got everything that she wanted out of my helping her, but I felt unappreciated. At the very end, she said thank you, and I think she meant it, but it seemed like an afterthought. This friend is often self-absorbed, which I already knew, but I guess since I went all out for her, I thought that she would be more thoughtful. -- Dumb Me, Boston

DEAR DUMB ME: What did you want the outcome to be for you? A general desire for appreciation may not be so easily translatable. If you tend to be the generous one, your friend may know you as being the nice one and think nothing of it. That doesn't automatically mean that she is selfish as it relates to you. More, it may mean that you do not generally let others know what your needs are. To expect others to treat you as you want to be treated when you do not clue them in as to what makes you happy is a recipe for hurt feelings. You have to educate your friends about your needs and desires.

The lesson here is for you to learn to take care of yourself by speaking up. Your selfish friend will probably be shocked to know that she hurt your feelings. No need to tell her. Next time just be clear about what outcome you want for yourself as you are supporting others.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I learned that one of my friends has guns at his house. Apparently he has gun permits and he has them locked up and stored, but it kind of freaked me out that he has them. We both have young children, and now I don't know if I should allow my child to go over his house. We haven't had talks about guns and how to be around them because my son is just 8 years old. I am not sure how to handle this. My friend seems cautious, but I have heard too many stories about children accidentally shooting guns and hurting or killing themselves or others. What should I do? -- Gun Shy, Shreveport, La.

DEAR GUN SHY: Talk directly to your friend. Tell him your concerns. Ask him about his guns -- where and how he stores them, how he keeps his children safe while having guns in the house, etc. Ask him as many questions as you need in order to gauge your comfort.

Know that if someone properly stores guns, the family, including young children, can be completely safe. That said, if you remain worried about your son's safety, you can choose not to send him over to your friend's house, at least not without you. You have the right to make that decision.

By the way, whatever decision you make is perfect for your family. Yes, there is a huge discussion underway about guns and gun safety in our country. In the end, you have to make choices that you feel comfortable with for your family.