DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my friends really embarrassed me at a joint lunch I was having. She brought up something I assumed I told her in confidence, only to find out she had told other people. I then had a talk with her, and I feel like it didn’t help anything. She has too hard of a time saying “I’m sorry.” She does not feel as though she did anything wrong, and she accused me of wanting to talk about the embarrassing moment again because I told her how she offended me! She told me I can tell one of her secrets if I so please, but I am just so bothered by the fact that she won’t admit her wrongdoing. If I tell her what I want her to say, it will be moot because I know she won’t mean it. Should I just blab about a faux pas of hers? I want to be even with her, and since she won’t apologize, I feel like this is all I can do. – Eye for an Eye, Dallas

DEAR EYE FOR AN EYE: Rather than trying to get even, you should try to learn a lesson here. If you do not want someone to repeat a confidence, keep it to yourself. This is much easier said than done. The truth is, though, that the only way you can be assured that your secrets are safe is to never speak them. Shy of that, you must choose more carefully whom to tell your innermost thoughts. Do not pick someone who is a talker. Chatty people chat and often reveal other people’s private stories on accident.

Let go of your desire to get her to apologize. What’s done is done. Just remember not to tell her any more secrets. And do not tell any of hers. That will not be satisfying for anyone.

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DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother passed away last year at the age of 74. I am in my 40s, and both of my children are independent and mostly out of the nest. After my mother’s passing, I noticed my aunt, my mother’s sister, become more integrated into the family. I didn’t think much of it, but I now realize my aunt has essentially assumed my mother’s position and brought a lot of the extended family together. Although I enjoy the newfound community we have formed, it bothers me that my aunt is trying to step in as a mother and grandmother figure to our family. I do not want her to ever replace my mother or think she has the power to do this. How can I thank her for bringing the family together after all of this time, but also ask her to stop trying to fill in the spots where my mother used to be? – No Need for Replacements, Atlanta

DEAR NO NEED FOR REPLACEMENTS: You know in your heart what role your mother had in your life. Your aunt cannot fill that role, so there is no need for you to point that out. It will only prove hurtful to her. Instead, focus on the positive. Thank her for her love and support and for bringing the family together. Enjoy her for who she is.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.