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Ask Michael Cohen: How to Just Say No (And Yes)

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I'm a corporate lawyer and I spend little time at home, most in the office, and suffice it to say the only briefs I've seen in years are the legal ones. Yes, my social life has suffered. Invites have been pouring in from friends who are demanding that I spend my free time with them. F*ck that! I want to sleep, have some one on one time (if you know what I mean), and catch up on Real Housewives of New Jersey episodes. I love my friends but I have no desire to waste my precious time at their lame dinner parties or decadent Hamptons weekends. What to do?

-Danielle Silverman, New York City

The first step to saying no in this sort of situation is acknowledging the invitation. Respond as soon as it's received so you don't leave your friend wondering, 'is she or isn't she?' and tell them the truth. You're working like crazy and although you appreciate the thought, you just can't make it.

However, that means you must do your part. I get it that you love your friends, though you don't want to attend their trite dinner soirees, but what about making dinner plans sans party or spending the day shopping in SoHo or opting for a more casual mimosa filled brunch? Many people don't get invited to anything so don't take the invitations from good friends lightly. You'll also find that it's easier to say no when you also can say yes--to something that works for the both of you. Hey, you're a lawyer, you should have no problem negotiating a deal.

By the way, you never know who you might meet at one of these parties. Every now and then say yes. And if nothing else you might get a glance at some non-legal briefs.

I'm 32 and finally dating someone my own age. Its been three months and all of a sudden I feel like she's moved in. It started with her leaving a few items around the condo. Then it morphed into as she says "her little space" of my closet. Now she's taking up major space everywhere from the kitchen, where she keeps all her crazy vitamins to my bedside dresser, where she fills up the drawers with hand crèmes, foot crèmes and US Weekly. I feel like she's moving in and I want to tell her 'No' and that it's all too soon.

-Matt K, Washington D.C.

Do you even like her? Because from what I gather, she seems to be working your nerves! Either she is insanely comfortable, totally rude, or lives in the world of unicorns and rainbows.

No matter the situation, boundaries are healthy and must be respected. If you feel that this relationship could go down the yellow brink road than tell her. But tell her the truth: sleepovers, not leftovers, are fine. For anyone who wants a healthy and engaging long-term relationship, it's important to remember that this sort of lifestyle change requires time, space and a romantic progress negotiated over many champagne and oyster dinners.

If she isn't hearing you, or is one of these girls that wants a ring on her finger and a baby in her belly yesterday, which I think may be the situation (I'm just saying), than I think you should count your losses and look for a better investment.

I'm a well-respected interior designer and I really love when people ask for my advice or I can help out a friend with making their home comfortable. However, I am beginning to get angry when people ask for favors such as complete redesigns and discounts on furniture. It takes away from my business and our friendship. Any advice on how to tell a friend that they are crossing the line?

-Olivia A, New York City

I understand this situation all too well. If I had a dollar for every resume or email to the ex that friends have asked me to write I'd have enough money for every first class upgrade.

Saying no in this situation is quite easy, and it's called organization. Here is what you should do (especially considering your craft). Visualize two balances in your head. On one side is the depth of friendship and the favors asked. On the other is the amount of time you must spend and the money lost. See where visually they tilt in your mind and see if it's worth it. I would tend to bet it's not.

But here is what you can do: set up some boundaries. Tell your friends you'll go over to their house for an hour to blurt out some ideas but hell no to a 3D rendering. If they want discounts on furniture don't do it. Instead refer them to where you know they can get the best deal.

If your friend asks why you aren't giving them the get free design card, you should ask yourself about some of their other social etiquette behaviors. I can only imagine what this person is like when the dinner bill comes!

Submit your questions about advice from your heels to your home on my website http://www.askmichaelcohen.com or in the comments section here.