Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Annoyed With Overly Friendly Acquaintances

DEAR HARRIETTE: I absolutely hate it when people come up to me to ask me if I remember them. I almost always do not. I have a horrible memory. Plus, half of these people are random -- at least as far as I’m concerned. They are not people who have been important in my life. One woman who pressed me to figure out who she was told me that we were friends on social media but hadn’t actually met yet. Really?! Another guy said that we had gone to the same high school, 30 years prior, but we weren’t in the same class or year. I can understand if the person is somebody who was my friend from back in the day or something more meaningful, but I feel like now people feel entitled to quiz you on whether you know them, even when they know you probably don’t. How can I protect myself in these situations? It always feels so awkward; I’m afraid that one of these people will be someone I should know but don’t remember. -- Who Are You

DEAR WHO ARE YOU: When you encounter people whose names you don’t remember or whom you do not think you know but are unsure, just say something like, “It’s so nice to see you.” People mostly appreciate being acknowledged. If the person asks you if you remember them -- something I never recommend -- you can respond by saying, “Please remind me.” If the person pushes back trying to get you to guess, admit that you have a bad memory and you do not want to do that. If the person continues, you can excuse yourself. There is no reason for you to go on and on attempting to guess who someone is if the person is unwilling to say.

For those people who like to quiz others about their identity, I implore you to stop. Usually you are the one whose feelings get hurt, plus you create an awkward situation that need not be uncomfortable. I prefer leading with my name to most people. That way, anybody who is having a memory lapse will be supported by the reminder.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been on my own for most of my life. I had a boyfriend many years ago, and we lived together, but that was then. Now that I am approaching retirement age, I realize that I will probably be alone forever. This makes me sad. I enjoyed having a companion, but I haven’t met anybody for a long time who is compatible with me. I have enough retirement to take care of myself, but I feel lonely. It’s no fun getting old by yourself. What can I do to make my life less lonely? I don’t have much family left. I am all alone. -- By Myself

DEAR BY MYSELF: You do not have to be alone. You can join a senior center to participate in a wide range of activities with people your age. You can learn about activities in your city that attract mature people and go out to participate in them.

The key is that you have to choose to be in the company of other people. The range is broad. Your spiritual community could be an opportunity. Volunteering at a charity that needs help could be gratifying. Figure out what you like to do that includes other people -- and 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 or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)