DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor, who is a good friend, confided in me that she is having an affair with a guy at her job. It came up because she asked me if I would watch her kids last-minute one evening. When I asked her what was going on -- because she is usually well-organized and responsible -- she admitted that she was going to meet up with this guy. This was so awkward for me. I took the children, but I don’t want to be in the middle of this. I am friendly with my neighbor’s husband, and I don’t want to be complicit in the machinations of an affair. It’s not easy. My friend has already asked me to watch her children again. That wouldn’t be abnormal, but now that I know why she is asking, I want no part of it. What should I do? -- In the Middle
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: You need to have a heart-to-heart talk with your friend. Remind her of how much you love her and want her to be happy. Tell her that you will do whatever you can to be a good friend to her -- within reason. Then, let her know how uncomfortable you are being between her and her husband with this. Tell her you are happy to watch her children on occasion, but you do not want to be the babysitter while she is out with her other man.
Let her know what you are unwilling to do. That should include lying to her husband and making it easy for her to go off with her co-worker. Suggest that she take a moment to evaluate what is going on in her life, what she needs and what is missing. Until she faces her issues, she will continue to run away from them. Make it clear that you do not want to be the enabler of her running away from her life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who has everything. She has done well for herself and is a collector of beautiful things. She seems to have a wonderful life. Her birthday is coming up, and I want to do something special for her. I have no idea what to give her. Every single thing I come up with to get for her, she already has, or the version that I might be able to give her is substandard to what she would buy for herself. What do you give someone who needs nothing? -- Great Gift
DEAR GREAT GIFT: Gifts do not always have to be material things. What about the gift of time? If you and this friend do things together, at least on occasion, consider offering her the gift of a date when you spend quality time together. Invite her to a meal with just the two of you or with a few friends, either that you prepare or at a favorite restaurant.
Think about her favorite extracurricular activities. Then offer her tickets to an event or experience. Or go through old photos. See if you can find an image of you and your friend when you were having a wonderful time together. Put that image in a beautiful frame that you accompany with a sincere note expressing your love for her.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)