Dear Harlan: Please don't judge me.

I'm married, but for years I have had a huge crush on one of my husband's closest friends. I made several slight attempts to gain the affection of this friend but nothing too serious ... until recently. He finally started to return my phone text messages and gave me his personal e-mail account. We started e-mailing each other. It was very innocent.

In one e-mail he told me he was coming to visit some friends in the area and followed the information with "FYI." I took this to mean that he wanted to meet me secretly, so I sent an e-mail addressing that assumption. He never responded. I sent another e-mail asking if I had said something wrong. He still has not responded.

I am assuming that my assumption that he wanted a secret meeting was wrong, because he is not responding. I'm really hurt and wish things could just be "normal." I know I shouldn't do this, but my feelings were real, and the pain is real. I just do not know what to do with myself. — Hurt and Confused

Dear Hurt and Confused: You're selfish.

I'm not judging you — I'm just being honest with you. I'm guessing you don't have a lot of people in your life who are honest with you. If you did, one of those people might have pointed out to you that your feelings, while real, will leave your husband without a wife and minus one of his closest friends.

They also rob you of your integrity. What you also can't see through your self-absorbed cloud of confusion is that even if this guy responded to your advances, you'd still be hurt and in pain. No matter how good it felt, the hurt would return.

When someone is capable of doing what you've been doing, that someone is in a lot of pain. Fix your marriage or end it. If you need attention, pretend that your husband is a stranger, and get it on. Don't ruin your marriage and your husband's friendship because you're too selfish to do the right thing. Want everything to get better? And think about someone other than yourself.

Dear Harlan: I'm scared — my phone bill is coming due, and I know it's going to be a lot of money. This will be the fourth time that my phone bill has been a lot of money. I'm so scared that my mom is going to yell at me or is going to take my phone away! What do you think I should do, because I can't sleep or eat? — Outta Minutes

Dear Outta Minutes: I don't know why you're so scared. Your mom is just a BIG pushover. Any mom who would let this happen for a fourth time can't be too rough. So order a pizza, take a nap and trust that once she stops yelling, you'll have a phone. If you play it right, you can end up with a new phone.

Ask your mom for help in managing your minutes. It could be as simple as switching networks or getting a phone with refillable minutes. There are phones that have pay-as-you-go plans. Like a tank of gas — when you run out, you fill it up. Admit that you have a problem, and ask for help. Just don't ask her for help over the phone.

Harlan is the author of "The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College" (Sourcebooks). Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online: 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 2007

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