Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I am obsessed with one of my best friends. He and I have been close for years, but I can't imagine that he loves me the way I love him. I cannot seem to shake my feelings for the life of me. Don't get me wrong: I don't fawn over him or beg him to love me. But I want to. Whenever I see him, I kind of melt and act silly. I think this makes him feel awkward. How can I handle myself better so that I don't lose my friend? He is so important to me. -- Giddy, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR GIDDY: Take a good hard look at yourself. Rewind to moments when you have been with this friend in the past. What worked about your interactions? What didn't? Can you recall the moment when you went too far with your overtures toward him? If you can identify the turning points in various interactions, this may help you to resist doing the same thing the next time you meet.

Further, think about what it is that attracts you to this friend. What does he do that excites you so? Is his magnetism really that enthralling, or could it be that the fantasy of him is bigger than his actual presence in your life? Sometimes people obsess and project their desires onto friends when, in reality, the object of affection does not live up to those glorified projections. Consider looking at your friend as the man he is, without any added embellishment in your mind. Think of him as your friend. How do friends like to be treated? The answer is, with respect. Figure out how to back off and give him breathing room. Your friendship may improve if you can let go of your obsession and replace it with a less invasive form of admiration.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister is planning to visit me in a couple of weeks, and she just sent me a text message saying that she intends to bring her dog along with her. This is a problem: My son has severe allergies, and I have mild allergies. Her dog is not hypoallergenic, and even if it were, that doesn't always work for us. My sister knows about the allergies. We haven't talked about it in a while, but it's such a big issue in my house, I can't understand why she wouldn't get that she can't bring her dog. I do not want to have an argument with her, but I have to let her know that the dog has to stay home. How should I break it to her? -- No Dogs Allowed, Detroit

DEAR NO DOGS ALLOWED: Just because your dog allergies loom large for you at home does not mean this reality is prominent in your sister's mind. She does not live your life. Call your sister. Tell her how excited you are that she is coming to visit, and explain that she will have to keep the dog at home for the safety of your family. When you put your foot down, she will get it, even if it creates a logistical challenge for her.