8/26/2014 1:10:00 PM Flaky friend doesn't make time for goodbye
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my friends can be inconsiderate sometimes. I'll text him about meeting up a few days in advance, and he tells me he will get back to me but never does. I'm going away on a trip in a couple of days, and I won't be able to see him before he leaves for college. I'm annoyed that he didn't get back to me about saying goodbye but still had the time to randomly follow me on Instagram. How can I address this issue with him without seeming overdramatic? -- Longing for My Friend, Westchester, New York
DEAR LONGING FOR MY FRIEND: You are witnessing a terrible downside to social media. In the company of one's own personal space on one's own time, a person can engage others -- sort of -- by the click of a button without having to take the time to actually communicate one-on-one. Social media can be useful, but when it turns into what can seem like either a distraction much like a video game or a substitute for human interaction, it can turn into a problem.
People still want personal engagement. What you may want to do is use social media to make that point to your friend. Tell him via Instagram that you miss him and that your feelings are hurt that he has been MIA. This may be the way he hears right now.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend and I are three years apart. It wouldn't make that much of a difference usually, but we started dating when she was a freshman in high school and I was a senior. Neither of us had a problem with it, and it has always been legal, but we waited to introduce her to my dad until she was 18 since he had a problem with her being younger. He met her recently and was very nice to her, but when she left, he told me that I'm a pedophile and that she should break up with me. I thought that this was very harsh, and it hurts to know that that's how my dad thinks of me. How can I bring this up with him and explain to him how rude that was to say? -- Wanting Dad's Blessing, Chicago
DEAR WANTING DAD'S BLESSING: Your father's concern is legitimate. You say that your relationship has always been legal. That depends upon the nature of your engagement. Illinois law allows consent for sexual activity at age 17. If you and your girlfriend were intimate before she turned 17, you could be accused of statutory rape -- even after the fact. This is why he made the statement he did. If her parents were against your relationship, you could have a big issue on your hands, regardless of how sincere you may be.
If you and your girlfriend truly love each other and want to see if you can create a relationship, you need to slow down. You may also want to talk to your father about your feelings and ask for his support in navigating this situation so that everyone is safe and at ease.
(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)