Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend Badmouthing Man With Whom She Had Affair

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my recently separated friends enjoys hosting get-togethers at his place. They end up being more like singles mixers, which is pretty cool. I invited one of my girlfriends to introduce her to one of his friends. She’s looking to settle down, and so is he. These two have a lot in common, so I thought they would be a great couple. I introduced them, and the guy was wowed. She, on the other hand, said nothing other than that he was a nice guy. She didn’t seem interested, so I left it alone.

A few months later, my friend came to me and said, “What’s up with your homeboy?” I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that she had taken an interest in my friend, the party host. That wasn’t the plan; he’s always been too into the ladies, which is probably why he’s heading toward a divorce.

Now my friend is coming to me asking about him. Not only is she asking questions about him, she is also badmouthing him at the same time. I find it hard to trust her; apparently she was sneaking around with him. The fact that she is now trying to attack his character is pretty horrible. We’ve never been close, so I’m wondering if it is worth it to keep a friend like this. -- Not My Friend, Riverdale, New York

DEAR NOT MY FRIEND: Don’t automatically dump this woman as your friend. Instead, check her on her behavior. Tell her that you never intended to connect her and the party host because you don’t consider him dating material -- at least not right now. But point out that he is your friend. Ask your girlfriend to resist the temptation to talk badly about him, at least to you. He is your friend, and you accept him for who he is, flaws and all. If she can’t handle his behavior, suggest that she stop trying to date him.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother and I have never been close. I’ve worried that after our mother dies, he may leave my life completely. When we do talk, he is often rude or caustic.

Recently, he has been really nice and complimentary. He has been consistent with this new-found kindness. Should I trust it? I usually keep our conversations brief, but if he is now going to be friendly, I am willing to try to connect better with him. -- Should I Trust Him?, Dallas

DEAR SHOULD I TRUST HIM?: What do you have to lose? Go for it. Encourage your brother’s active participation in your family. Match his kind words and gestures with your own. Whatever has occurred to inspire him to be family-focused is great. Build on that. No need to ask why, either. Just be in the moment and enjoy your brother’s presence. Be grateful for this turn of events that creates space for meaningful connection among family members at this stage in your lives.

(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.)