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home : columns : dear harriette October 20, 2020

7/27/2020 7:51:00 AM
Partner questions next steps after apologizing

DEAR HARRIETTE: What do you do when you hurt the one you love? I recently had a fight with my partner and lashed out at him in a way that deeply hurt his feelings. I feel incredibly guilty, but I know that won't do anything to help the situation. What can I do now that I've acknowledged that I was wrong and said I'm sorry? He is obviously still very upset. How do I approach him during this time, given that we live together and I'd like to do my best to make him feel better? -- Making Up

DEAR MAKING UP: Sometimes things have to run their course. You may need to give your partner his space for a while. He may need time to get past the sting of the argument and all that occurred in the midst of it.

You can call a "family meeting" and tell him again that you regret the way you handled the argument. Commit -- to the best of your ability -- to keeping the content of arguments specifically to the topic at hand rather than piling on or dredging up old stuff, as that only hurts people and doesn't help to resolve the issue.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Two of my friends are in an argument, and I don't know what to do about it. I understand points from either side and have been a listening ear for both of them. However, as things escalate, I am worried that they'll want me to pick sides, and I don't want to cause conflict since I've been hearing both of them out and agreeing to some extent with each of their concerns in private. I care about both of these people, and I don't want to lose the friendship of either, even if the two of them don't want to be friends. How should I approach this situation? -- In the Middle

DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: Tell each of them that you want the best for them, but you no longer want to be the sounding board for them in this situation. Explain that you are in an extremely awkward position. You love them both and want to stay friends. Your greatest wish is for them to get past their argument and mend their relationship, but if that doesn't happen, you do not intend to pick sides. You want to remain friends with both of them.

When you are asked about your opinion about their positions in this argument, reserve the right to abstain from commenting. Tell them that you realize that they have to work this out on their own. You do not want to be caught up in the middle of their drama. Refuse to give your opinion. You may also need to stop talking to them when they start elaborating on their issues. The only way to stay out of it is to extract yourself from the conversation as soon as it begins.

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.

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