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home : columns : dear harriette January 17, 2019

1/8/2019 7:25:00 AM
Friend feels alone, even with people around him

DEAR HARRIETTE: I spoke to an old friend, who told me that one of his closest friends just died. He said that in the past year, he has lost most of his oldest friends and worries that he will be alone soon. He has a wife and a grown child, plus I am his friend, and he has other friends, too. But I understand what he means. Sometimes you can feel totally alone, even if you have people around. Feeling a sense of mortality when you start losing your friends is natural, I guess.

How can I let my friend know that I am there for him? Now that he is so sad, I want to make sure that he feels comforted by those of us who are still alive. What can I do or say? -- Helping a Friend, San Francisco

DEAR HELPING A FRIEND: Stay in close touch with your friend. Tell him directly how much you love him and care about him. Tell him you share his sadness at the loss of his good friend. Assure him that he is not alone -- you are present, along with other close friends. Over the next few weeks and months, call him regularly and invite him to meet for coffee or drinks. Text him to check on him. As time goes by, check in with him. By establishing a new rhythm with your friend, you can help him to feel better and strengthen your bond.

I did this with one of my dear friends when her husband died. We went from speaking intermittently to speaking on the phone almost every weekday morning until she died several years later. She was sad, and I think our communications helped ease her pain.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm 40, and I've been in an on-and-off relationship for four years with a guy who's 30. Our last breakup was the longest, at four months; we bumped into each other a couple of months later on a night out and ended up hooking up and started seeing each other again.

Our breakups were always because of him. One minute everything is great -- we never argue, have lots of quality time together -- and the next minute, he is gone, saying, "Things aren't working out." A month or two later, he will be back, wanting to mend fences. He tells me he loves me, enjoys spending time with me and doesn't want to lose me, but he is frightened. He has suggested that we start a "casual relationship" with no expectations, as he doesn't know what he wants, but he insists that we would be exclusive. What should I do? -- Ms. Exclusive, Poughkeepsie, New York

DEAR MS. EXCLUSIVE: Your guy is not interested in a long-term relationship. Since that's what you want, you need to move on. He has strung you along for too long already. Don't get caught up in the excitement and drama of the moments when you are in his company. Think long-term: What do you want? If a little romance and a booty call are enough, then stay with him. If you want more, find another guy.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.





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