Hi Carolyn:

Is there any professional, acceptable way to ask a client if he is "available"?

I'm married -- but I met a client who is attractive, intelligent, successful and without wedding ring, and I think he'd be perfect for my best friend.

I would certainly try to confirm first that he's not married, but I don't want to say anything inappropriate. Thoughts?

Potential Matchmaker

Just one: Don't you want to confirm first that he's not a jerk? Availability is important, of course. Make-or-break.

But character is equally so, since not having any is the most powerful antidote there is to good looks, intelligence and success.

And character is not a quickly obtainable fact. It takes time. The kind of time that allows you to say to your friend, "I don't do this lightly -- I see a lot of traits in him that I think you'll appreciate." (The alternative is to imply, "I don't know him at all beyond looks and job description, but you're both single, 'nuff said.")

Conveniently, you'll know you've put in that kind of time when you've obviated two questions: Is he married, and would it be inappropriate to suggest that he meet my best friend? If circumstances don't allow this, you pass.

Dear Carolyn:

I get bent out of shape over petty stuff and I end up snapping at my sweetie. I attribute it to the short-fuse personalities in my family, but, excuses, excuses. . . . Can you suggest a mantra that will help me keep my cool?

Short Fuse

Therapy is not an admission of weakness, therapy is not an admission of weakness, therapy is not an admission of weakness. Why dance around it? From your short-fuse family you learned short-fuse behavior. If they'd taught you poor grammar, you would take a class to correct it, right? And to correct bad form in the weight room, you'd talk to a trainer on staff? So. Call individual counseling with a competent family therapist a class in emotional flexibility, to teach you to respond to stress without getting bent out of shape. Call it what you have to. Just call.

Hi Carolyn:

My boyfriend and my best friend are roommates and can't stand each other. They live in a nice apartment, and he's helped her out financially in the past.

BF decided last week that he wants to find an apartment on my side of town when their lease is up, and I'm thrilled. I thought my friend would be happy, too, but she's terribly depressed and swears she'll have to move in with her parents because she can't afford her own place.

We've been best friends since we were 9 (we're 31) and the vibe I'm getting is that by dating her roommate I'm costing her her lifestyle. Is this really my fault?

Feeling Guilty in West Palm Beach

If you used your boyfriend to steal her bank records and siphon money from her accounts, then, yes, it's your fault.

Otherwise, a legally competent 31-year-old is responsible for herself, and that includes the roof over her head, the career path she chooses to pay for it and the ownership of any feelings she generates under it. She's upset that you're dating her roommate, but this can't be why. Ask her, kindly. Good luck.

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