Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Aunt Wants Better Relationship With Nephew and Niece

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who always tells me a negative or mean comment that an acquaintance has said about me. This friend explains that honesty is key, which is the reason they relay certain comments back to me. However, I believe that there is a time and place for everything, and hearing negativity come back to me from a person I care about does not feel good. Sometimes I question if this is a true friend and wonder if he sticks up for me when comments are being said. How should I handle this? -- Always Negative

DEAR ALWAYS NEGATIVE: It is time for a cease-and-desist conversation with your friend. Tell him that while you understand his position about always being honest, you do not appreciate his constant relaying of negative commentary about you. Ask him directly if he ever defends you when people speak badly about you to him. Listen carefully for the answer.

Admit that you are not perfect, as no one is. Add that you are generally open for constructive criticism, but you are beginning to wonder about his motives. He is the one who consistently brings you critical commentary from a range of people. Ask him what his motives are. Be frank with him. Tell him that the way he is acting doesn’t make you feel like he’s being much of a friend.

(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.)