Dear Carolyn:

Help! My boyfriend and I are headed up to Brooklyn to spend the weekend with this college friend of his who doesn't like me. What can I do to make the trip more bearable--and possibly make her stop hating me?

--Baltimore

"Don't go" or "stay elsewhere" leap to mind for the first part, but I'll assume you don't need my help to deduce that. And I'll assume you and your boyfriend agreed to this plan out of financial necessity, and that he's not completely insensitive to the extended insult he's subjecting you to.

If that's true, then accept the lodging for what it is: a classic free lunch. You save all kinds of money by staying there--because you're paying the bill in stress instead. If it's worth it to you, so be it.

That leaves the issue of making the friend not hate you, but as long as you're a polite, conscientious and helpful house guest, frankly, that's her problem, not yours.

By the way, if I assumed wrong about your boyfriend's sensitivity? Don't go--or date elsewhere.

Hi:

I am bisexual and seeing a woman right now. The problem is my ex-boyfriend of two years broke up with me three months ago because he needed to grow up, according to him. Well, in the last three weeks, he calls me, e-mails me and wants to hang out. The thing is, he always asks for sex with me and for my girlfriend to watch us, or if he can watch us. We were trying to be friends, but we cannot have a conversation without his bringing up the idea of watching and/or joining. He never made these references when we were dating (he didn't know I was bi).

--Confused

What, exactly, isn't clear here?

1. Your ex's growing-up project is not yet underway.

2. Don't hold your breath till it's finished. Call him what you will, but this self-absorbed lightweight is not your friend. A friend might have common puerile fantasies like this one--but he wouldn't dare suggest them to you, and he definitely wouldn't keep flogging them when you've already said no. Why are you taking the calls? Why are you answering the e-mail? Hello?

3. You were with a guy--two years!--who didn't know you switch-hit. If you lie to the people you sleep with, you can't be surprised when you have low-rent bedfellows. Which brings me to:

4. Have you told your girlfriend you're bi?

Dear Carolyn:

My sister is convinced I am the favorite and therefore anything nice I do she claims is just to "kiss up."

By the way, I'm 21, sister is 27. Dad is very quiet and, yes, my mother and I are more friendly, NOT more loving, than my sister and mom are. I think it is just a matter of all three of us having different personalities. But it seems my sister just loves playing the part of the martyr.

--Maryland

The question I'm about to ask you is one you need to ask your sister from now on, every time she accuses you of being the favorite:

Aren't we a bit old to be having this conversation?

Dear Carolyn:

My husband and I recently hosted a party, to which we invited some, but not all, of our neighbors. One neighbor in particular was not invited because we do not know her that well, and frankly, she's rude and a nonstop talker. She has attended functions at our home before, but only because everyone in the neighborhood was included.

Here's my dilemma: At a recent gathering at another neighbor's home, this woman cornered me and apologized for not showing up to our party. She said she assumed her invitation must have been lost. I didn't want to blurt out, "You weren't invited!" I just sort of stood there. She ended the conversation by saying, "Next time, I'll let you know I didn't get an invitation."

I do not want to be her friend, nor do I want to be rude to her. But I feel as though her behavior is forcing my husband and me to include her in future parties.

--Suburbs

I don't know which is the graver social crime: being rude or being boring. Doesn't matter, though. When she dropped that ludicrous hint about her "lost" invitation, she pretty much took the courtesy issue off the table, don't you think?

That leaves pity as your only real reason to include her, and it isn't much of one; the condescension diminishes all involved.

I think what your neighbor needs is a brush with social skill. Next time she asks where her invitation went, point out that your party was not a neighborhood function, and how sorry you are that she got that impression, and that next time you have the gang over, you'll be sure to invite her in person.

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