Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Longtime Girlfriend Refuses to Accept Breakup

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm 39 years old, and I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for seven years. Not long after moving into the house I own, my girlfriend quit her job. She's been unemployed for more than five years now. We've had sex once in the last three years.

Even though I care about my girlfriend and want her to be OK, I've checked out mentally. I’ve expressed that things aren’t working between us. I don't want to just throw her out; she would be homeless. I've offered to help her out with some money, but she refuses. We’ve gone through this before, and eventually she asks me to give our relationship more time or pretends like we haven't broken up, forcing me to remind her of our split and crushing her. This is wearing me down. What can I do to help her get out on her own without being a jerk? -- The Breakup, Denver

DEAR THE BREAKUP: The more you avoid the end, the more difficult it will be. Talk to a lawyer to find out your legal rights in “evicting” your girlfriend. It isn’t always easy to do. Research social services that may help her to make the most comfortable transition. Armed with this information, give her a deadline for moving out -- and stick to it. Help her pack her things. When the date comes, offer to drive her to her new home. If she has nowhere, drive her to a local shelter. Yes, this may seem harsh, but it may be the only way to cut the cord.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbors asked me to watch their dog while they went on vacation. It was supposed to be one dog, and another neighbor would also help. As the departure date neared, I learned that the other neighbor wouldn’t be helping, and I’d be watching both of their dogs, including a puppy that was not house-trained. The puppy had diarrhea the first four days they were gone. I had to go to their home four to five times a day for the seven days they were gone to walk the dogs all while tending to my three young children. Every time I went over, there was a mess. I spent $60 on cleaning supplies.

In hindsight, I realize my mistake was not getting payment arranged and in writing before they left. They brought back about $20 worth of gifts for my children, but it has been three months, and I’ve yet to see any other money for my time or expenses. My husband and I have given a few friendly reminders, but now we are both irritated. I feel disrespected and angry. What would be the best way to ask them to pay for my time and cleaning supplies? -- Doggy Care, Reisterstown, Maryland

DEAR DOGGY CARE: Submit a bill for reimbursement for all of the expenses that you incurred with a deadline for payment. If they do not pay within that timeframe, file a claim against them in small claims court. You need to wake them up to their responsibility. This should do it!

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)