Dear Harlan: My sister has been laying on the guilt a lot. This isn’t new, but it’s for the smallest things. It can be as simple as not calling her back when I’m in the midst of a crazy day managing my life and kids.

She gets mad at me if I don’t text her fast enough or like a post of my niece’s piano recital. She loves to tell me how long it’s been since I’ve talked to my mom and dad. Her constant guilt has made me not want to talk to her as much. I explain this to her, but she still can’t help herself. Now I feel guilty that I’m not calling her as much and avoid her. Any advice? — Guilty

Dear Guilty: Guilt doesn’t work if you don’t let it work. She’s your sister. You love her. She might never change. So, change your reaction. When she turns on the guilt, change the subject. Avoid it. If you can’t, avoid giving her what she wants. When she tells you what you’ve done or haven’t done, instead of falling into the trap, explain that you don’t respond well to this approach and suggest a more effective way to get her point across without using guilt.

For example, if she says, “I guess you forgot about me last night when you didn’t text me back,” suggest she tells you, “It hurts my feelings when I don’t hear from you in a timely manner.” Help her speak to the problem, not your actions. Model it. Yes, this is a pain. Yes, it’s annoying. But she’s your sister.

Dear Harlan: A while back you offered advice to a man who discovered his best friend’s girlfriend was interested in him after giving him a kiss on New Year’s Eve. I disagree with your advice. You left him up in the air as to what to do if he is interested in her.

I’d tell him to ask her for a date if she ever breaks up with his friend. I have known cases like that as a woman of 97 years old. I’ve lived and experienced as much. Women are at a disadvantage in social romantic approaches to men they are attracted to. She probably planned this kiss to apparently throw him an opening to pursue her. She was telling him that he is her first choice and the friend is her second choice.

She can’t break up with her second choice and lose him only to find the friend is not interested in her. Then she loses both of them. If he’s interested in her, he should give her some hint to let her know — a little tight squeeze of the hand sends a mighty message and is discreet.

He should use his imagination and give her an answer. The ball is in his court. It wasn’t the liquor talking. — Woman With Experience

Dear Woman With Experience: First, I really appreciate your wisdom. Second, I’m not a fan of someone bouncing from one relationship to another. It seems that you are suggesting this woman only break up if she is guaranteed another relationship. I’m a fan of breaking up with no guarantees.

If this woman isn’t happy, she should end it. And if she’s too afraid of being alone, she should spend some time working on loving herself instead of being with her boyfriend’s best friend. As for the best friend, he should only date her if she’s single and his best friend gives the OK.

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