Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

As Homelessness Increases, So Do Requests

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have noticed more and more homeless people on the streets. And I feel like they are getting more aggressive in asking for -- demanding, really -- money. I went in to get something from a convenience store, and a woman waiting outside asked me for money. When I did not give her anything but continued along my way, she began to yell at me and follow me a few steps down the street. I am not numb to the realities of homelessness in our country, but I also do not feel like it is my duty to give money to every person who demands it. How can I handle this without being rude or disrespectful? -- Dealing With the Homeless

DEAR DEALING WITH THE HOMELESS: Sadly, the homelessness crisis in our country is growing dramatically. Depending on where you live, chances are, you will see many homeless people in your neighborhood who are trying desperately to get by. That does not mean that you are obligated to give each person money. Right now, as our economy is in freefall due to the COVID-19 scare, many people are in peril of losing their jobs and potentially ending up homeless themselves.

With that backdrop, you still have the reality of walking on the street and being pressed for cash. My recommendation is to remember that the people asking are human and desperate. Even when you cannot or choose not to give them money, say hello. Look them in the eye and tell them to be safe or have a good day. Say something that humanizes the moment, including, “Sorry, I don’t have anything to give you.”

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently started seeing a guy who is really smart, nice and beautiful to look at. I am surprised that he is into me. I am smart, but I’m not what you would call “cute.” I’m an average woman whom handsome guys don’t usually notice.

My boyfriend and I met at the coffee shop I visit sometimes after class, and we struck up a conversation. We enjoy talking to each other, and it has grown from there. Part of me is afraid that if we take this to the next level and start going out with his friends, he won’t like me as much. This is new territory for me. I’m not normally so insecure, but I think I am out of my league. How can I boost my confidence? -- Real Beauty

DEAR REAL BEAUTY: My mother used to say, “Beauty is as beauty does.” She emphasized that physical beauty is transient, while inner beauty -- the way that you behave, how you treat other people, what makes you you -- is what really counts. It sounds like your guy sees you for who you are. Who knows what his dating experiences were before meeting you? You two have chosen each other; find confidence in that. The more you believe that you deserve to be happy right where you are, the easier it will be for you to stand by his side as an equal in whatever company you find yourself.

(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.)