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Hurt feelings are always a risk

Dear Carolyn: One of my best friends is interested in me, and I'm confused. I really like Friend, but I recently ended a relationship, and I'm not sure I'm ready to start dating again. Above everything else I don't want to hurt Friend because I do care very deeply. I don't know how to figure out what I want without leading Friend on, since I might realize it's not what I want, and more heartbreak will ensue than if we just stayed in Friend-ville.

On the other hand, there's a voice in the back of my head saying, "What if Friend is right for me?" and it's hard to ignore, because we are good friends for a reason: We're very compatible. The result? Total paralysis.

-- Friend-ville's not so bad

A: In your case, I guess, total paralysis isn't so bad -- but only because it's the logical middle ground between overruling your heart and overruling your judgment, neither of which tends to end well. Your recent breakup is a solid reason to hold back; churned-up emotions take time to settle back down.

The risk of hurt feelings, however, is not a worthy deterrent. If you show an interest in Friend only to change your mind, then, yes, that will hurt him/her, obviously a bad thing and if you never show any romantic interest, that will hurt Friend, too, in a different way.

Since it's not possible to guarantee that no one will ever get hurt, the only safeguard you can offer is that you won't be reckless with or selfish about someone's feelings for you.

You've already shown that kind of consideration for your friend just in wrestling with what to do. So, if you find yourself emotionally ready for a new relationship and still harboring these romantic suspicions about your friend, I could argue that exploring your interest -- slowly -- is exactly what a good friend would do.

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Tenacious texter

Dear Carolyn: How do I address a perpetual texter? We often double date. I first noticed that she texted throughout dinner (under the table, as if we didn't notice!), and afterward at a sporting event she texted until her phone died.

We recently took a road trip with this couple, and she spent 85 percent of it texting -- including while she was driving a car full of people at 75 mph. What can I say without an ultimatum? My fear is that she'll resent me.

-- Over the limit

A: That's what you fear? Not oneness with a bridge abutment?

If you can't just say, "Please join the conversation" or "Pull over, I want out of this death trap," then I fear for your ability to stand up for yourself. I realize you don't want to spoil a friendship, but that's on her thumbs, not your conscience.

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