Dear Nicole: With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Dear Nicole:

If your BFF was encouraging you to do something that wasn’t appropriate, and you both knew it wasn’t appropriate, would you think she was trying to sabotage you? It’s nothing illegal or anything. She just keeps making suggestions that I wear stuff on first dates that is WAY too racy. What is she trying to accomplish?



Sometimes the least helpful thing is someone trying to help. If you are faced with a decision where you go with your gut or what someone says, I hope you pick your gut, whether the person telling you is your BFF, your mom or your boss.

The other part, the question you are really asking, is deeper. We can’t know what she’s up to. You can only ask yourself: 1) Does this person contribute to my personal (and other) growth? and 2) Is this person a positive influence in my life? When I identify someone as a friend, I need to be able to say “yes” to both these criteria. If your friend is going through a hard time (divorce, death of a loved one, etc.) and seems temporarily crazy, hold out. (I can say this because I have been temporarily crazy myself.) But if you look at your friendship and realize that not only is she negative but seems to be rooting against you, you and your BFF may have outgrown each other. And that’s OK. By acknowledging this, you are taking responsibility for your role in the friendship and your role only. Because, let’s face it, that’s all you can do, besides turn a deaf ear to terrible advice.


Dear Nicole:

There are three kinds of neighbors: neighbors you love, neighbors you wave to twice a week and neighbors whose names you do not know. All are fine with me.

Our neighbors fall halfway between no names and waving which, while not great, beats the heck out of neighbors with whom you feud.

But a problem has come up. Piled up, actually. Our neighbors’ snow ploy guy has been pushing masses of snow up against our common fence. The yard at the end of their driveway is small, so I see the guy’s problem. But now the fence is starting to lean under all the weight.

I don’t want my first sustained conversation with my next door neighbor to be a complaint. But this has got to cease. I know Robert Frost wrote that “good fences make good neighbors.” But pretty soon our fence isn’t going to be good anymore.

What’s a nice way to broach the subject?



I bet the neighbors have no idea this is an issue, especially if the snow is being piled on their side and obscuring their view of the sagging fence. As long as you don’t accuse them of doing this on purpose (sounds like you aren’t), a friendly knock and 5-minute conversation to let them know what is going on is absolutely fine. Give them time to relay it to their plow guy. I bet they can find an alternative location to pile. When they do, send them a little thank you card and small gift: some cookies, a bottle of wine, etc., will send the message you are not only grateful but you are not the kind of person to only communicate with them when something bad happens.

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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