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home : columns : dear harriette February 26, 2020

12/16/2019 8:21:00 AM
Neighbor shocked to learn man is getting evicted

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently learned that one of my neighbors lost his job and is about to be evicted. It turns out, he hasn't had electricity in his apartment for more than a year. Who knew? I feel horrible. I could have cooked him a hot meal or been more attentive.

I like this guy. Whenever I would see him, he always looked so chipper. I had no idea he was suffering. At this point, it sounds like he has to move. I want to reach out to tell him I care about him without embarrassing him. Is it trite to invite him over for drinks or dinner? I'm not trying to get in his business. I just want to be a good neighbor. -- Extending a Hand

DEAR EXTENDING A HAND: Talk to the person who let you know what is going on with this neighbor to find out about his state of being and whether they think it would be a wise idea to invite him over. Be mindful not to gossip or be more inquisitive than feels natural.

If it seems right to invite him over, do so. You can keep it light. Tell him that you haven't seen him in a long time and wanted to see him during the holiday season. If he comes, don't pry. Just enjoy a light moment. If he tells you about his circumstances, be compassionate without asking too many questions. Make sure you have his phone number and email address, and give him yours. That way, you can send him a holiday message no matter where he is and keep your connection if you so desire.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I have been planning a trip around the holidays since the beginning of this year. We finalized all the details about a month ago. Now, he tells me that we can't go anymore. Apparently his mother doesn't approve, and she wants him to come home for the holidays. He hasn't gone home for Christmas for several years, and he and his family are not close.

I don't appreciate that his mother is asserting herself now that he has a girlfriend. Oh, and she didn't invite me to go with him, either. What's worse is that my boyfriend is caving. Since she has called for him, he is ready to let go of our plans just like that and go to her. I don't want to ask him to choose between his mother and me, but I also think this is unfair. How can I share my view with him without sounding whiny? -- Bad Mom

DEAR BAD MOM: Your boyfriend may have been waiting for an entree to rekindle his bond with his mother. Who knows? You should ask him why he is willing to ditch your plans together, especially since he doesn't normally spend the holidays with his mother. Tell him that you do not want to stand between the two of them. Admit that this situation makes you feel uncomfortable and sad. Of course you would like for him and his mother to have a strong relationship, but you two made plans, and you are sad to walk away from them. Ask if visiting his mother at a different time might be an option.

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

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