Dear Harlan: I've always hated the type of girl that leads a guy on and then decides she doesn't like him, leaving the guy feeling very low.

Unfortunately, I have become one of those girls. I have an awesome friend named "C." We went out on one date and ended up having a great time, and we kissed. After I got home, I realized that I don't have those kinds of feelings for him. I happen to know from a good mutual friend that he really likes me. I was worried about seeing him at school because we sit together at lunch and share a class. "Weird" was an understatement; he was like making eyes at me all during lunch and then again in class.

I know that I need to tell him how I feel, but I don't want to ruin our friendship. We have so many future plans, and too many mutual friends. I don't want to hurt him or make things weird. Is there any way I can tell him the truth and preserve our friendship? — Friend Not Wanting More

Dear Friend: As a man who's been told by many women, "Let's just be friends" and who's spoken with other men who are "just friends," here are the ways it hurts the most for us to hear (i.e., ways never to tell a man you just want to be friends):

In the middle of a passionate kiss

In the middle of a crowded bar

Through a friend or third party (little brother or sister)

Online via IM or in a text message

When he asks you out on a second date

While at Thanksgiving at his family's for dinner

The morning of final exams/GRE/MCATS/LSATS

On his 21st birthday (all birthdays are bad)

The night before your wedding day (assuming you're marrying him)

Over a period of years using silence and time to silence his emotions

When and where is friendliest to do it? Sooner, sober, face to face, not on a date, in a private place and with honesty, integrity and sensitivity.

The less experienced the guy, the more you need to explain why. NOTE: It's OK to blame it on timing (there might be a time when you feel the same about him). Any way you do it, it's uncomfortable, so make it as comfortable as possible. Tell him how you would want to be told and let him know what you would want to know. That's all a friend can do.

Hey Harlan: I have two questions for you: Have you ever been wrong? Have you ever admitted you're wrong? — Never Seen You Admit It

Dear Never Seen Me Admit It: Harlan's wife here . . . Yes, Harlan is often wrong. Sometimes he needs my help to admit it, but yes, he knows he can be frequently wrong.

Hi, it's Harlan again. Here's where I think you misunderstand me. At times, when it comes to defending a position, I tend to hold on to what I believe is true. But in no way do I believe that what I think is good advice is the right advice for everyone. Wrong would be never sharing opposing views because I think I'm the only one who is right — and if that were the case, I'd be the first one to admit it.


Harlan is the author of "The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College" (Sourcebooks). 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 2005 Dist. by King Features Syndicate Inc.