Dear Nicole: How can I talk a friend out of a bad idea?

Dear Nicole:

My friend is one of those serial entrepreneurs. If you can think of one of those parties you have in your house where someone has tried to sell you something, this lady’s done it. Makeup, cooking stuff, you name it. She recently went to a conference where she learned she could have a franchise. Problem is this isn’t a $500 mistake anymore when all the bakeware she bought doesn’t sell; this is a $50,000 offer that she is SO excited about. How can I stop her from doing this totally insane thing? Can I talk her out of it?

— Concerned in Corea


I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to tell people what they should do with their money (you know, unless you are an accountant or something and someone is paying you to). What you can tell her to do is to do her homework. Let’s pretend for simplicity’s sake this is a Subway restaurant franchise. Has she talked to other franchisees in other places? What is part of the compensation package: group advertising opportunities, continuing education, systems like inventory that are ready to use, etc. If you are going to spend $50,000 on anything, you should know A LOT about it. If she doesn’t seem to, tell her you’re concerned, not that she couldn’t do it but that this maybe isn’t the deal she thinks it is.

My other advice is, if you can, work in the kind of business you plan to own for six months before buying one. It gives you a real view of what day to day is like and in my opinion is worth as much as any business course. If she does her homework with other Subway owners, has a solid business plan, and works in a Subway for a period of time, and continues forward, tell her you’ll be her first customer. 99.9 percent of potential business owners don’t clear those essential and potentially dream-crushing hurdles.


Dear Nicole:

My dad is a widower. I noticed women in his age group have been hitting on him hard, even within months of my mom dying. What gives? Are people that insensitive? My dad doesn’t seem interested but still, I’m not ready for him to start dating.

— Dapper Dad’s Daughter


Well, I hate to break it to you but much like your dad is no longer in charge of your sex/relationship life now that you are an adult, you also are not in charge of his. If he wants to hook up with all the ladies at the senior center or sit quietly at home making puzzles on Saturday nights (or something in between), it’s up to him.

Is it insensitive to hit on someone weeks after their spouse’s funeral? It is but it happens. Happened to my mom after my dad died I’m sure. But so we can understand people, it helps to put yourself in their situation.

Some men (and women) like to be taken care of by a partner. They like someone who cooks the meals or shovels the walkway. Your dad may want someone to take care of him a bit.

Some men (and women) like company. They hate living alone or want someone to share meals with. Your dad may want someone to spend time with.

In other words, be kind to people. Their motives may be less conniving than you think. If they like your dad, he’s clearly a great man but it sounds like he is self aware to know if and when a relationship is worth pursuing. Your job, daughter, is to love him and know that no one will ever replace your mom, for you or your dad.


Dear Nicole:

I think my boyfriend is cheating on me, but I have no proof. But he does leave the room when he takes a phone call, is sometimes vague about plans, and otherwise seems to be acting different. What gives?


OK, so all these reasons someone could actually use on me. I hate having phone conversations when someone is sitting in the room with me (mainly because they often try to talk to me while I talk to the person on the phone “Oh is that your mom? Tell her I said hi”— Ugh.) I also like large amounts of unstructured time so if you ask me what I am doing Saturday at 10 a.m., I might want to be keeping options open. And sometimes, I get stressed out and I’m sure I don’t do a good job at hiding it as I should. In other words, maybe your man is just kind of a private person? Or maybe I am cheating with my shady behavior? (Yeah, right.)

In any case, you may be one of those people (I know some) who can’t let it rest. You have to find something wrong. If so, I suggest this exercise. Tell yourself you know he isn’t cheating, and really believe it. If you come up with some other issue to be incessantly annoyed about in the next few days (‘He never helps me cook meals, why doesn’t he help me cook?!?’), you know the problem isn’t him but your perceptions.

Or he could be cheating. The thing with not being able to control other people is we don’t know what they are doing 100 percent of the time. But if you don’t trust him, you should probably free up his schedule to be with someone who does trust him. Because we all deserve that, and that includes you.

Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]
Nicole Ouellette

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