Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Hoarder's Cousin Wants to Visit

DEAR HARRIETTE: Whenever I see my sister, she claims some wardrobe item I’m wearing. I’m not kidding you. If I’m wearing a scarf, she admires it and then badgers me until she guilts me into giving it to her. Sometimes it’s cute, but other times I really don’t want to hand over my possessions. My sister has a good job and plenty of money to buy what she wants, yet she consistently feels like she must have something of mine. How can I wean her off this habit? I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but her demands are overbearing. -- Not Your Stuff, Pittsburgh

DEAR NOT YOUR STUFF: Your sister is longing to be close to you. Requesting your possessions is her way of doing this. To get her to stop, be counterintuitive. Spend more time with her. Pay attention to her and her interests more. Ask if you can have something of hers. She may relish the notion that you like her things. Over time, you can begin to say “no” when she tries to take your belongings.

(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.)