4/28/2021 7:50:00 AM Reader apprehensive about moving relationship to real life
DEAR HARRIETTE: I started talking to a guy during quarantine, and now he wants to take me out. We got close -- from a distance -- over this past year. We even had phone sex. It was fun, given the circumstances. I feel safe with him, or as safe as you can when you haven't physically spent time together.
Because we have established intimacy on the phone and over Zoom, I think he is going to want to actually be physically close soon. I'm scared to death in part because actual intimacy is something I haven't had in a whole year, and also because even though I feel like I know him, this also feels really new. How can I talk to him about this so that things don't get awkward? I am nowhere close to ready to have actual sex with him, but I do want to get together. -- Real Life
DEAR REAL LIFE: Be honest with him. Acknowledge how much fun you have had this past year, getting to know him virtually. Tell him that you are excited about getting together with him in person. Admit, though, that you are a bit nervous. Developing a virtual relationship feels different from cultivating a bond in person. Admit that you are concerned about taking things too fast. Tell him that you want to take it slow and get to know each other in person. You may not have to mention sex at all. If you think it's necessary, tell him that you don't want to be intimate with him yet. You want to wait until it feels right.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend and I have been friends for almost 25 years. We managed to stay close when I went away to college, but when I returned, I realized that our relationship has not been as fruitful. When we hang out, I don't feel valued; I feel insignificant, like my concerns, emotions and ideas are unimportant, and that her issues are somehow worse and her views are more important. I'm feeling so burdened and irritated. How can I break up with my friend? -- Outgrowing Friends
DEAR OUTGROWING FRIENDS: Before you walk away from this lifelong friendship, speak up. Tell your friend that you want to get together to have a heart-to-heart. Be open and honest with her. Explain that you are not feeling valued in your friendship. Give her examples of how you two talk and how she seems to focus on herself to the exclusion of you. Be very specific when you illustrate what hurts your feelings or irritates you. It sounds like she is not a good listener and that she is self-centered. Do your best to outline what you want in your friendship. Make clear points about what would make you happy to get from her.
There is a good chance that your friend doesn't realize that this is what she is doing. Give her a chance to change her ways. If she does not or cannot change, you don't necessarily have to break up with her. You can simply spend less time with her. You can be less available to engage, get together or talk.
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.