DEAR HARRIETTE: I grew up in a house full of boys. I have four brothers who were rowdy and loud. Plus, my dad had a huge presence in the household. I have a boyfriend who is the opposite of them. He is sensitive and thoughtful. As much as I love my family, I would never call them sensitive. My boyfriend cries when we watch certain movies or when sad things happen. I like this about him.
But it leaves him vulnerable when he's around my family. They constantly jab at him and tease him because he's "soft." When I have told them how much I like him and that I appreciate that softer side, they laugh at me. How can I get my family to welcome him when he is so different from them? Quite frankly, they can be bullies. -- Stop Bullying My Man
DEAR STOP BULLYING MY MAN: Your boyfriend is going to have to carve out a level of comfort for himself with your family. You cannot do this for him. He doesn't have to become a bully himself or attempt to be different than he is, but he does need to establish his own space among the boys. My guess is that he will need to be able to ignore them, deflect their taunts and stand his ground.
What you can do is make sure that you clearly let your family know how much you care for him. You, too, should ignore their jibes. If you don't add fuel to that fire, it may subside.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am tired of wearing a mask every time I go outside. I thought COVID-19 would be handled by now. It's been almost a year, and I've had it. I want my old life back. Plus, I learned that a woman I know caught COVID even after wearing a mask, so what's the point? I think I just want to live my life and see what happens. I am young and healthy. I want to see my friends and take off this mask. Since I haven't gotten sick yet, I think I should be good. Do you think I'm being stupid? I don't plan on being reckless. I just want my regular life back. -- No More Mask
DEAR NO MORE MASK: It's totally understandable that you are exhausted by the pandemic and the recommendations for staying safe. We are all tired. And yet, more than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, including many young, healthy people. It is real, and it isn't going away yet. Your friend who got the virus while wearing a mask is proof of how dangerous the illness is. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends several measures: wearing a face covering, staying 6 feet apart and constantly washing your hands. They also suggest that you not gather in enclosed spaces whenever possible.
You should continue to follow these guidelines, even though it is frustrating. We don't know how long this will last, but it won't be forever. The vaccine should help us dramatically once enough people have been able to get it. Be patient. Visit from a distance with loved ones. Follow President Biden's request to mask up for his first 100 days. It is worth 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.