Life Advice



Reader Questions Relationships With Friends

Harriette Cole on

DEAR HARRIETTE: I share different secrets with different friends depending on my relationship with each of them. Not one of my friends knows all of my secrets. I have a friend I see only occasionally who just happens to know more about me than another friend I see twice a week. Is this wrong? Does this make me a bad friend? -- Secrets

DEAR SECRETS: Selectively sharing secrets can be viewed as wise or as an accident waiting to happen. What do I mean? It is wise to decide who belongs in your inner circle. Only those individuals should be privy to the most intimate details of your life because they have proven to be trustworthy and respectful of you. That could be one person or many. And your inner circle will likely change a bit over time, depending on the dynamics of your relationships and the experiences that you have together.

The time bomb part of your decision has to do with selectively sharing "secrets." The very nature of that word suggests that you are hiding something from someone else. Even the most trustworthy people have someone else who is a bestie who may end up being their most trusted confidante. You tell one person, and that person confidentially tells another. Eventually, those secrets start to be revealed, usually at the most inopportune times. This can become problematic when people know each other, if for no other reason than they now begin to question how you value them because you did not share sensitive information with them that you shared with others. It can get messy.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am concerned about my girlfriend of four years studying abroad without me. My girlfriend has decided to spend nine months in Spain. She has talked about studying abroad for many years, and I wouldn't dare get in the way of something she's been wanting for so long. I'm slightly concerned about what nine months apart will mean for our relationship, though. We've never spent that much time apart. Should I voice my concerns? -- Separation Anxiety

DEAR SEPARATION ANXIETY: Calm down. Of course you cannot predict the future, but you also should not try to limit your girlfriend's experiences. You can talk to her about your concern, but do not belabor the point. Encourage her to go for her dream. Tell her how much you will miss her and that you look forward to her sharing some of her experiences with you.

While she is away, do your best not to be too clingy. You may want to establish a time each week when you will talk, text or video chat. But be willing to be flexible with that. The time difference is real, and her life will be less predictable than yours. Be attentive but not possessive. Let her know you are there, but do not put too many demands on her.


Live your life. Do not become a recluse. Go out and enjoy yourself. Create your own experiences so that you are not too lonely and you establish balance for yourself.

Visit if you can. It could be fun for you to take a trip to Spain while your girlfriend is there so that you can experience her favorite spots together. Nine months doesn't have to seem so long if you make a plan.


(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Copyright 2022, Harriette Cole



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