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home : columns : dear harriette May 13, 2021

4/3/2021 8:27:00 AM
Dear Harriette
By Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: Whenever I talk to my sister, we have some kind of an argument. She is older than me, and she just can't help herself. She always finds a way to jab at me and make herself look better. I am so sick of it. But here's the thing -- while she can be rude and mean to me, I have discovered that she brags about me when she talks to other people. I was shocked to learn that she speaks about me in glowing terms. Who knew? That made me feel a bit better, but it doesn't change that she is rude to me. As an adult, how can I get her to quit it? I don't like talking to her much because it's guaranteed that she will find a way to be mean. -- Reset

DEAR RESET: Contact your sister and tell her what you discovered. Tell her how pleasantly surprised you were to learn that she had nice things to say about you to whoever it was. Point out how happy you were to learn that she even had those thoughts about you since what you typically hear from her is criticism. Ask her to be kinder to you when you talk. Tell her it is emotionally exhausting to talk to her because you know at some point she is going to be mean. Ask her to stop.

Then, when you are in conversation and she begins to go in on you, ask her in the moment to stop. If she continues, tell her you have to go, and literally get off the phone. You do not have to keep listening as your sister berates you. You can choose to pivot.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I got a call the other day from an old college friend. We used to work together at the school newspaper back in the day. He is a really nice guy. I consider him a friend even though we don't talk much. Anyhow, he called me out of the blue to talk, and during the conversation, he asked if I knew that he liked me when we were in school. I was caught off guard. I did know, but I was interested in somebody else at the time, so I didn't react to him when he did little things that showed he liked me. Plus, I was 19; I didn't know what to say to him. But now we are grown, and he brought it up again. We are both married, so I don't think he is trying to spark a new flame. I dodged the question again, but I think he deserves an answer. What should I say? -- He Liked Me

DEAR HE LIKED ME: A sad reality is that it is common for people to have poor timing when it comes to love. Even more, all too often one person may like someone who doesn't like him or her back -- at least not in that way. That's the story of love sometimes!

Your friend does deserve an answer, a kind and true answer. You can tell him how much you liked him then and now, as your friend, but when he was crushing on you back in the day, you were crushing on somebody else. Admit that you didn't react to his overtures because you didn't know what to say. Add that you are very glad that you have stayed friends over the years, and you hope to remain friends for life.

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