Carolyn:

What can we do to disinvite someone to a weekly gathering? For quite some time now, a small group of women has gotten together Friday evenings to unwind and gripe about bosses, jobs, boyfriends, life, etc.

Several months ago, someone we invited told another young lady about the group. Since then, we can't get rid of her! Every Friday, she comes to the restaurant where we meet and just joins in. We've tried telling her we aren't going to get together, and she comes anyway.

She is much younger, and she dominates the conversation. We considered moving our gathering to another place, but we're treated very well since we're regulars.

--Despairing Circle of Sisters

One Friday, gripe about bosses, jobs, boyfriends, life and stupid broads who show up uninvited and then single-handedly suck the air out of an entire restaurant.

Or, become slightly irregulars. Next Friday, relocate quietly and let her show up for nothing. Do this for a couple of weeks--the time it would take a normal person to get the hint--then do it a couple more. Then get your old table back.

Dear Carolyn:

I'm a 22-year-old woman and have had an on-again, off-again relationship with a guy for about four years. The most recent off-again led to a very close friendship. About two months ago, I told him I liked the friendship but didn't want to date him. Usually it was him breaking off the relationship.

All of a sudden, we barely spoke anymore. I asked him why, and he said I was "infiltrating" his life. We both have pretty much the same group of friends, and he accused me of being friends with them just to get to him. He also said that subconsciously I really wanted to be with him.

Now, I know the friendship is pretty much over. But how do I respond to these accusations and still uphold my dignity?

--Angry and Confused

If he told everyone you had a secret operation and your name was really Kurt, would you bother to correct him?

Some accusations are just too pathetic to acknowledge. The dignified way to tell him you have no interest is to hang with your friends as usual, and let day after day after day pass without showing any interest. None.

Dear Carolyn:

I've been dating this great guy, "Brian," whom I met through a mutual friend, "Lisa." Lisa, although a kindhearted person, has a lot of "issues." Not that we all don't have them, but she has lost friends in the past because she would burden them with her many problems. Now she is constantly wanting to be a third wheel with Brian and me, and wanting to know our weekend plans. I do not believe she has a right to know everything, but I always feel pressured to tell her.

--Exasperated

Lisa sounds like a head case, but you're the problem here. If Lisa were any old friend, you would tell her your plans or not, and include her or not, without a whole lot of thought. But because she's unhappy, you feel obligated to fix that, to save her somehow with the pleasure of your company.

It's a nice thought. A tad self-important, maybe, but nice. Unfortunately, Lisa's the one who'll suffer for it. The more you cave, the more you'll resent her, and the more likely you'll run screaming like everyone else.

Instead, when she asks about your weekend--an innocuous question, really--say, "Brian and I have a glass-blowing seminar." Period. If the guilt voices tell you to invite her, bite a knuckle till they stop. If she invites herself, say you're sorry, it's meant as a date . . . how 'bout dinner Sunday?

You know--treat her like a normal person. Just watch for symptoms of shock.

Carolyn:

After making a multitude of poor life decisions, I decided to get my stuff together. Now that I finally feel confident and rational, I find it difficult to relate to my family. I don't blame them for my poor decisions, but my parents and siblings have many of the bad habits I'm trying to break. I've alienated them, and I don't want our relationship to continue this way. But I also don't want to revert to my old self. We all live in the same town and are a "close" family.

--Trying to Do the Right Thing

Congratulations on locating your stuff.

Mending the rift will make you the bigger person you're trying so hard to be--but you have to think small. Puny even: Plan to visit for lunch, and expect . . . lunch. Smile, eat, clean up, go home. Resist the urge to self-medicate. Repeat.

If the dysfunction hits the fan? Sorry, have to go, back soon, bye. If it doesn't, declare victory.

You'll feel like a Pod Person at first, but observe the rules of non-engagement--no judging, no taking bait--and chances are you'll adapt. If you don't, move. There are other states than Guilt.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or tellme@washpost.com, and join Carolyn's live discussion at 8 p.m. tomorrow or at noon Friday on The Post's Web site, www.washingtonpost.com.