Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friends Drop the Ball on New Year's Eve Party

DEAR HARRIETTE: I spent $170 on a New Year’s Eve ticket at a swanky New York City nightclub. Although I was assured everyone was going, the day of, everyone told me that they had waited too long and club prices had gotten too high. I ended up not going because I didn't know anyone else who had a ticket. My friends told me they'd buy me a nice dinner to make up for this. It's been more than a week, and they haven't made good on their promise. Should I remind them? They all admitted I was out $170 because of them. -- Cheated, Brooklyn, New York

DEAR CHEATED: Take a chill pill! Seriously, we are not far enough into the new year for you to believe that your friends are going to renege on their promise. Rather than reminding them, why not get in touch with one of them and suggest a restaurant. Assume that they are going to honor their agreement, so recommend a restaurant that you consider fun and appropriate for the friend group. You can even suggest a date in the next few weeks that works for you. If you get crickets when you make the suggestion, you will need to remind your friends of their promise. Good luck!

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors

DEAR HARRIETTE: I frequently get bad headaches that range from a minor inconvenience to a migraine that causes me to temporarily lose parts of my vision. These come at fairly unexpected times, and I understand that I am not pleasant to be around when I am in pain. I feel bad canceling plans an hour in advance, but I have a horrible time if I go out and then have to be taken home. Is it ruder to bail on plans or show up knowing that I won't be pleasant to be around? -- Both Sides Lose, Wilmington, Delaware

DEAR BOTH SIDES LOSE: First, talk to your neurologist to find out if there is any refinement to your treatment that may allow you to reduce your migraines. An adjustment to your medication, diet or fitness routine could help you to be more balanced.

Beyond that, you must take care of yourself as you manage your relationships. Your headaches are akin to a disability. You may need to make it even clearer to your friends that you sometimes have sudden debilitating headaches. At those times, which are largely unpredictable, you cannot hang out. When you make plans to do things, apologize in advance that this could happen. Ask for their forgiveness upfront.

Then, if you think you can and want to hang out with them briefly, go for a short time. If it really is too much to handle, as a true migraine can be, let them know you are living with pain and have to cancel.

If you manage your friends’ expectations, you will also be managing rudeness. Dealing with your condition is not ideal, but it is real. Your true friends will figure out how to accommodate you in your times of need.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Health & Safety | Etiquette & Ethics