Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Dating Does Not Require Compromised Values

DEAR HARRIETTE: I haven’t dated for several years. I just haven’t met anybody who was interesting enough. My friend at work suggested that I meet one of her friends, so I went out with the guy, my friend and her boyfriend. We had a nice time, though nothing too special. The guy invited me to go out to dinner again, and I went. We had fun, but at the end of the meal, he propositioned me. He actually thought I would have sex with him since he had taken me to dinner. What’s wrong with people? Is this what’s required in the dating world these days? -- Old School, Dallas

DEAR OLD SCHOOL: As you re-enter the dating world, you do not have to change your values. You may continue to be propositioned by potential partners, as plenty of people do engage in sexual intimacy very early on in a relationship. But you can say no.

If you like a person who makes an advance too early, you should talk about it. State your case, including when you think intimacy is appropriate. By being clear, you create space for the way that a relationship can blossom -- or not. Admit to being "old school," and explain that you want to get to know someone and see if the two of you make a good team before considering anything more.

Read more in: Love & Dating | Sex & Gender

Reader Wonders How to Address Man's Weight Gain

DEAR HARRIETTE: Over the holidays, I saw a man I knew as a child. He is in his late 20s, and I hardly recognized him. He has blown up like crazy. I mean, he’s at least 40 pounds overweight. I’m sure he knows it; how could he not? Still, should I ask him about his health? We have never been close. I knew him from my family's church, but I hadn't seen him for a long time.

I don’t mean to be a busybody, but I am worried about him. This young man is headed for a health crisis if he doesn’t make some changes. -- None of My Business, Syracuse, New York

DEAR NONE OF MY BUSINESS: It can be jarring to see someone after a long period of time and to notice a dramatic change, especially a weight gain. Yet this is also fairly common. Talk to anyone who has gone to a high school or college reunion. In fact, many people diet right before going to these types of events so that they can look their best.

If you were closer to this young man, I could see space for you to talk to him about his health. Given the fact that you were never close, it would be awkward and inappropriate for you to step in and ask him about his weight gain. Instead, keep your mouth closed. You can greet the young man and ask him about his life. As is common when fellow parishioners reconnect, inquire about his life, his work or education. Get a sense of who he is becoming. Be encouraging. But do not address the topic of his weight.

(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: Friends & Neighbors | Health & Safety | Etiquette & Ethics