Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Teenager Caught Between Groups of Friends

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is in an uncomfortable situation. She was separated from her core friend group this year at school and has been trying to figure out how to maintain those friendships and bond with the kids in her new classroom.

For Halloween, she ended up splitting her time between the two groups, which was stressful and ultimately backfired. Her core group was mad she spent time with her new classmates, so they shunned her. By trying to be with both of them, she ended up alone at the end of the evening needing to be rescued because her “best” friends left her. The teenage years are tough, I know, but I feel so bad for her. I know I cannot protect her from the challenges that life will bring, but I do want to make sure I empower her to the best of my ability. What do you say in a situation like this? -- Between Friends, Baltimore

DEAR BETWEEN FRIENDS: Being a teenage girl can be devastatingly tough. Girls who are figuring out how to grow up and fully assume their personalities often hurt each other's feelings. What you can do is help your daughter make smart choices about how she spends her time. Splitting time between two groups on the same day is hard to manage. It may be easier for her to spend time with one group on one day and the other on another, especially when the activities are outside of school.

When your daughter’s friends are dismissive of her, that may be a sign they are no longer her best friends. Tell her to notice how her friends behave. If they turn mean and aren’t thoughtful, suggest that your daughter consider turning away from them. Sometimes it is best simply to walk away from people who are mean. As hard as it seems in the moment, it’s about self-preservation. You can remind your daughter that she deserves to be loved and treated with kindness. It may break her heart in the moment to turn away from those who mistreat her, but this may be the step that saves her heart in the end.

First Date Need Not Be Expensive

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited on a first date with a guy. A few days ago he called me to say he doesn’t have much money and he wanted to know if we could split the cost. I’m not the kind of person who is trying to get a guy to spend a huge amount of money on me, but I think it’s not right for him to invite me out and then ask me to pay straightaway. I wish he had invited me to do something that is free, like go to the park or something. Can I suggest a free or affordable date instead of the dinner he proposed? -- Bad Date, Philadelphia

DEAR BAD DATE: You have every right to suggest a different kind of date. Since he is low on funds, by all means recommend a free or low-cost alternative. A walk in the park, a visit to the zoo or a trip to an art gallery could be fun. See how he responds to your creative response. This will help you to know how flexible he is. Money does not need to stand in the way of getting to know someone on a date, but you both have to agree on the terms.

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