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home : columns : dear harriette May 24, 2016

10/31/2013 9:52:00 AM
Kind gesture may have too many strings attached

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister told me that her friend, who is getting ready to undergo chemo treatment, has an airfare deal that she wants to use before undergoing the procedure. My sister has requested that I ask my male friend if they can stay at his house in Miami -- with me. I have never stayed at this man's house. We date occasionally, and I feel awkward asking this of him. Since I've never stayed there, it seems weird. I would be asking him if I can stay there with my sister and her friend, strangers to him, when he might not even be there. (To be fair, he did offer my sister and me his house a year ago.) Meanwhile, I can't afford to buy my own ticket, and my sister said she would consider charging my ticket on her credit card if I pay off the bill when it comes. Should I ask my friend? -- Wanting to Help, Baltimore

DEAR WANTING TO HELP: Do you realize what you are saying? Your sister is attempting to do something nice for her friend, but -- and this is a big but -- she has not thought her plan through. Given that your relationship with this man is casual, it would be a lot to ask for him to welcome you three to his home. More, though, is the fact that you cannot afford to go. If you cannot buy the ticket now, will you be comfortable paying for it next month? Also, do you have funds for eating and taking care of yourself once you get to Miami?  

Talk to your sister about her idea and the challenges inherent in it. Tell her that you certainly would like to help her friend, but this plan is not manageable. If she can afford to pay for the whole thing, you can broach the topic with your friend. If you do, be upfront about the request and clear that you are perfectly fine if he declines.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I received an email from my ex-wife saying that her dad passed away. I have some mixed feelings about attending the funeral. I do not want to have people thinking that I am trying to get back with my ex-wife, nor I do not want to cause a scene. Should I go to pay my respects or feel miserable and not attend? -- Pay respects, Queens, N.Y.

DEAR PAY RESPECTS: Since your ex-wife reached out to you to tell you of her father's death, reach back and ask her if she would like for you to attend. She may have told you out of pure courtesy, or she may appreciate your support.  

Since you are conflicted, let her be your guide on this. It is possible to remain friendly when you divorce. If you go, be attentive. Greet her family and offer your condolences. Let her know that you are sorry for her loss and are there to offer your support.

(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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