May 29, 2024
At this point, can I neutralize the situation?

DEAR HARRIETTE: I hung out with some relatively new friends last weekend. We got to drinking champagne, and the stories started flowing.

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It turns out that we have a couple of mutual friends — including my first true love. I can’t believe it, but I told them details about how we broke up and how much I still care for him. Never mind the fact that I am married to someone else and have been for decades.

I’m not trying to get with this old flame, but I feel bad about telling this secret. I have no fear that they will stir the pot by mentioning this to anyone, but I do feel bad about being so loose-lipped.

Is there anything I should say to neutralize the situation?

— Remembering the Past

DEAR REMEMBERING THE PAST: The best thing you can do is keep the story to yourself. If you don’t want your past to be the topic of further conversation, don’t talk about it.

I’m sure the sentiment that you shared was heartfelt and they took it as that.

A note for the future is to watch how much you drink. While intoxication is no excuse, it is something for you to remember — when you drink a lot, you tend to say more than you believe is appropriate. The best way to avoid that in the future is to cut yourself off before you have reached your limit.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am not the neatest person in the world.

A friend came to stay with me for a few days. Because my house wasn’t super tidy, at a certain point she started leaving her personal items in the common areas of my home. When I asked her why she did that, she shrugged it off and told me everything else was all around, so why not her stuff, too?

I didn’t like that, and I asked her to put her personal belongings in her room. She got a bit of an attitude.

While I am messy, it’s my mess. I was doing this woman a favor, and I feel like she did not respect my few house rules. How should I have addressed that?

— Put Your Stuff Away

DEAR PUT YOUR STUFF AWAY: The way you live sets the precedent for the way that others will inhabit your space — like it or not. Your friend stepped into your space and followed suit.

You may not have liked it, but it’s likely that she took her cues on where things could be from how you live your life.

So, step one is for you to tidy your home more. Put things away and create order. That will help anyone entering your space have an immediate sense of what goes where.

Second, at the outset of her stay, you could have invited your friend to keep her personal items in the room you gave her. If she balked and pointed out that you have stuff all about, you could have simply said, yes, you know, but you want her to keep her stuff in her room. The end.

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 protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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