Dear Harlan: For the past school year, there's been this guy on my bus who is known to be very "touchy-feely."

I discovered this in November, when he started touching parts of my body that I don't want to be touched. I didn't say anything about it to any adults, just my friends. They told me that he was just being a guy and that it wasn't a big deal.

I don't want to go into any details, but the other day, it made me feel very uncomfortable. I finally told my friend, who went to talk to him, since it was happening to another one of his friends, too. So, at lunch he went to go talk to him. Unfortunately, this is not the end; the boy came up to me on the bus to talk about lunch today. He told me that if that ever happened again, he would beat my friend up.

The thing is that I don't know if what happened on the bus the day before was important enough for that kind of thing to happen. What do I do if it happens again? Please help. — Possibly Sexually Harassed

Dear Sexually Harassed: It's not going to happen again, because you're going to tell adults who can help.

Know why he doesn't want you to tell anyone? Because once you tell, he'll lose most of his power. Once the right people know, he'll be outnumbered. Then, should he act on his threat, he's guaranteed to suffer the consequences.

He knows he's wrong. You know he's wrong. Everyone reading this knows he's wrong. Please, tell the people who need to know, so that you can be protected.

Whether it's on a bus to school, summer camp or work, no one should be able to touch you. NO ONE! Tell your parents. Explain everything. Ask them to tell the authorities at school, who can stop him. If it doesn't feel right, it's wrong. Tell, and make it stop.

Dear Harlan: I've been dating the man of my dreams for almost a year. I am 23, and he is 28. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me! We're looking at houses and plan to get married. I've never had to worry about him EVER being unfaithful — at least, until this weekend, when I caught him red-handed with another woman. I found out from both sides that they only kissed. I am heartbroken!

He tells me that he is sorry and that he loves me and never wants to be with anyone else. I believe him. I'm just having a very difficult time getting over this. How can I ever trust him again? I really want to make things work between us! — Heartbroken in Minnesota

Dear Heartbroken: Warning: You won't like this reply. If you choose to live in Fantasyland, please do not continue reading. Otherwise, please proceed.

If he's the best thing that ever happened to you, he must be the only thing you've dated. I'd be willing to bet my laptop that this isn't the first time or the first woman he's done this with. It's just the first time he got caught.

Unless he can explain why he did it ("I'm insecure." "I need attention." "I lack self-confidence," etc.) and offer a specific plan of action why this will never happen again ("I'll seek counseling." "I'll go through a program on cheating," etc.), he's a nightmare. Never mind the house-searching — start the soul-searching.


Write Harlan at harlan@helpmeharlan.com or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan! 2506 N. Clark St., Ste. 223, Chicago, IL 60614. © Harlan Cohen 2004 Dist. by King Features Syndicate Inc.