Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Online Dater's Family Disapproves

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am trying online dating for the first time. I used to be opposed to this idea -- I felt that people should meet each other naturally in person -- but that has not been working out for me so well. My past relationships started when guys approached me in person, but they all turned out to be toxic.

My outlook on dating now is that online gives me the power to choose who I want and to filter out the bad seeds. My family, however, doesn't think that this is a good option due to safety concerns. I am stuck; I am ready for the next stage in my life, but I am unsure what steps I should take. -- Online Dating

DEAR ONLINE DATING: Safety should always be a priority in life, including in dating. Meeting someone online versus while walking down the street or at a museum does not offer a measurable difference in terms of the safety factor. You must always be on the alert.

Online dating has worked for many people. You can be somewhat discerning based on what your filters are. If you describe the qualities you are looking for and what you value, hopefully you will attract like-minded suitors. When you notice someone interesting, start to communicate online, then by phone, then in person in a public place. Take your time. If you live by your values, you may find someone who lives by them as well.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband loves fixing things around the house, but he doesn't always do a great job. He insists that we don't need to call professional help because it will save money and he is handy enough to fix things himself. While I want to support him, I don't want him to cause any damage that could be dangerous. How can I convince him to let someone else come in and fix these issues? -- Mr. Fix-It

DEAR MR. FIX-IT: This is a tough one. Your husband’s heart is in the right place, but his abilities don’t measure up. You don’t want to emasculate him, but you do need to sort this out. You have to be honest. Point out the things that your husband is good at. Commend him for those jobs. Then point to others that you think are dangerous. In many cases, the more dangerous jobs require some kind of professional certification. Remind him that it is no indictment of him if he doesn’t have certain skills. He is great at other things, but you care for him too much to see him potentially get hurt -- or hurt someone else -- because something he wants to tackle is dangerous.

If this spills over into areas that may not be dangerous but where he has been unsuccessful in neatly finishing a job, show him what you would like to be touched up. You can ask him to fix it first. If he is unsuccessful or unwilling to complete that job, tell him you are bringing someone in to finish it. It is OK for you to put your foot down in this situation.

(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.)