Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Former Friend Threatening to Write Tell-All

DEAR HARRIETTE: A woman who used to be a close friend just informed me that she is writing a tell-all memoir about her life, and she plans to include me in it. There is no scandalous story about the two of us that I know of, but she and I were close for a long time, and she knows a lot of my backstory. Like most people, there are plenty of things that I would rather not see the light of day, certainly not in somebody’s book.

I want to put a stop to this before she gets going. This woman can be evil, and she has turned on most of her friends over the years. As soon as she does that, she talks about them like they were dogs, even if seemingly moments before they were tight. I have heard from two other former friends that she has threatened to expose their secrets as well. In some instances, what she is threatening is false, but often some part of it is true. Is there anything we can do to stop her? -- Exposed

DEAR EXPOSED: According to Cornell University, “Libel is a method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures, signs, effigies, or any communication embodied in physical form that is injurious to a person's reputation, exposes a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or injures a person in his/her business or profession." From this perspective, you would think you have the right to sue this woman for potentially damaging your reputation, if she proceeds to publish negative things about you. The caveat is that to file suit against someone for libel, you do need to be able to prove that what the person is saying or publishing is false. If the statements that this woman makes about you or others are accurate, you do not have a case -- even if what she is saying is horrible.

Still, you may want to team up with the other people and talk to an attorney. Perhaps someone representing the lot of you can go to this woman and appeal to her, making it clear that you will sue if she proceeds. You can sue whether you will likely win or lose.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently lost a lot of weight and was thinking that I should give away some of my clothes that are too big. I’m worried, though, because my weight tends to fluctuate. I have been working hard to lose, but what if I gain back those 20-odd pounds? I don’t want to have to buy more clothes later. My house is getting crowded by different sizes of clothing at this point. Should I chuck them and do my best to keep my weight down? I don’t know what to do. -- Not My Size

DEAR NOT MY SIZE: If you are serious about weight loss and want to raise the stakes, get rid of most, if not all, of your old clothes. Then, if you feel yourself gaining back some of the weight, immediately refresh your fitness and eating plan so that you stay the course. Make it difficult for yourself to have anything to wear if you get larger by giving away almost everything. This will help to clear out your closets and eliminate the fallback that you have relied on over the years. You can 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.)