DEAR HARRIETTE: I've liked “Bri” for nearly two years. She was in a relationship at the time, and I respected this, so when she recently became single, I was elated to have my chance with her. I expressed my feelings to my friend "Jeff" before I asked Bri to spend time with me, and a few days later, Bri was going on a date with Jeff! I feel like he totally took her from me. Should I confront Jeff about being a bad friend? -- Bro Code, Dallas
DEAR BRO CODE: Forget about Jeff. Go directly to Bri and ask her out. If this happened just recently, she can’t possibly already be in a relationship with Jeff. Call Bri. Invite her to join you for a quiet time together where it will be easy for you to talk. Ease into a conversation with her. Get a sense of how she’s doing. Lay your cards on the table. Tell her that you have liked for a long time, but out of respect for her relationship, you kept your distance. Tell her that you would like her to consider going out with you to see if she might like you, too. Acknowledge that you know you are making this request early on after her breakup. Point out that it is obvious to you how special she is, and you would regret it if you didn’t get a chance to see how special a couple you two can be.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I asked the company intern out on a date. She is a recent college graduate just like me, and we get along very well at work. Now I fear she said yes to this date only because she thinks I would bad-mouth her if she said no. I realize I’m not sure if she actually likes me romantically. Should I backpedal on this potential relationship? -- Office Sparks, San Francisco
DEAR OFFICE SPARKS: Why not go on the date and take it easy? Ask her what she likes to do, and pick an activity that suits both of you. Get to know each other. Be upfront as well: Tell her you are happy to have a contemporary at the office, being that you are both recent graduates, and you would like to get to know her better. Add that you find her attractive, but you do not want to be presumptuous. Tell her that you are happy to be work buddies, if that feels right to her, but you are also willing and interested in hanging out with her personally if she thinks she would like that. Make it clear that there is no pressure either way.
You have to be careful that the intern doesn’t feel any pressure from you, which is why it is good to be direct and clear. You can add that if she doesn’t want to do anything other than share time with you at work, you are fine with that. You will respect her wishes and boundaries.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)