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home : columns : dear harriette February 25, 2021

12/21/2020 7:53:00 AM
Friend is fickle when answering communications

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who calls me only when he needs something. He rarely responds when I email him, even if I ask for feedback from him. This friendship is very one-sided. When he is attentive, though, he showers me with his thoughts and charm.

I have grown tired of this over the years. I feel like if I need something, I cannot count on him to show up. Yet he expects that whenever he calls, I will jump. I don't like that. I have backed off a lot and not been as responsive of late because I'm just worn out by it all. His birthday is coming up. Part of me wants to blow it off. But I have always been one to celebrate his big day, even if it is just an email. Should I reach out? -- One-Way Street

DEAR ONE-WAY STREET: You and your friend have established a pattern of engagement, whether or not you like it. I wouldn't use his birthday as a time to punish him for being himself, even if that means not treating you the way you want to be treated. Send him a birthday text. Be your thoughtful self, but don't go further.

If you are done with the lopsided nature of your friendship, be clear about that to yourself, then let it go. Whenever he contacts you, don't jump. Be grounded. If he asks what is wrong or different, tell him. Be clear and unemotional as you explain. State that you do not appreciate that he receives your communications but does not respond. Tell him that it hurts your feelings, and you have grown weary of the one-sided nature of your friendship. Tell him you give up unless he can be more attentive. Be prepared to do just that.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that we can't -- or shouldn't -- visit family for Christmas, I'm at a loss for how to make sure that my family knows how much I appreciate them. I don't have any children, so every year I travel to my mom and sister, who has two kids. We have rituals that we do each year, and now all of that is gone. I want to do something meaningful for them, but I don't know what that might be. -- Holiday Connection

DEAR HOLIDAY CONNECTION: First, I want to thank you for choosing to stay at home during this important holiday. It is strange to have to make that decision, but medical experts warn us that to do otherwise could be deadly.

So how can we make the holiday special? Send gifts (hopefully you already have). But more, set up video calls with your family, if everyone has that technology. You can make it fun by cooking together and talking while you make your special dishes. You can schedule a call where you open gifts and tell stories of holidays past. You can sing together and just have fun and laugh.

If you do not have the ability to make a video call, pick up the phone and talk to each other. Connection is key. For the children, coordinate with their parents for you to play games together. You can find interactive online games that will fit any child's age group and interests. Go for it!

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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