Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Boyfriend's Daughter Causes Strain on Relationship

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend is in his mid-40s, with a 21-year-old daughter. He paid for her to study cosmetology. During that time, he paid all her bills. Well, she finished school and moved back in, and she now says she’s no longer interested in beauty as a career. She has never worked a day in her life. She totaled her car, and he asked that I help her find another one. Last week, she had the nerve to ask for $400.

My boyfriend is going through a financial struggle, and because of that, he’s a little stressed. He still gives me $100 a week just in case I need anything. Now he wants me to let his daughter use the car he lent me so she can go see her boyfriend on the weekends. His ex-wife doesn’t help with any of their daughter’s expenses. I’m 28 with a 5-year-old, and thankfully my boyfriend is very involved in my child’s life, but I feel that his daughter is putting a strain on our relationship. He wants me to marry him, but I’m concerned his daughter will never get her life together and we will always take care of her. What should I do? -- Possible Step-Daughter Problem, Jersey City, New Jersey

DEAR POSSIBLE STEP-DAUGHTER PROBLEM: Step back and take a careful look at your situation. You and your boyfriend’s daughter are close in age while different in circumstances. It sounds like your boyfriend is doing the best he can to care for his daughter, who is just becoming a woman. Without her mother’s help, this has to be difficult. It sounds like he is also trying to do right by you and your child.

I recommend that you take a few deep breaths and stay quiet for now. Navigating a young adult is a challenge. It may take his daughter a while to figure out her path. If you step in to make comments, it will likely cause a rift between you and your man. Let things unfold as they will. Then you will have to decide if you can live with reality. If your boyfriend’s daughter needs ongoing support, it is likely that he will provide it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My co-worker and I are both foodies, and he started inviting me over for dinner twice a week. I’m 10 years older than him, but I really enjoy our time together. A few months ago, he started talking about his ex-girlfriend and thinking about getting back together with her. That lasted for a few weeks; then it was just us again.

We’ve never been intimate -- just good friends; however, now I think I’m falling for him. And again, he’s bringing up his ex. I gave him some space, but he seems to be interested in me. What do I do? -- Year of Back and Forth, Oakland, California

DEAR YEAR OF BACK AND FORTH: Decide whether you are willing to remain the foodie friend, or if you want to take the risk to ask for more. If you feel brave, tell your friend that you have something to share with him. Then, say it -- you like him more than just a friend. Ask if he feels the same. If so, see what happens. If not, decide if you can stay “just friends” after the revelation.

(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.)