DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been talking to this girl every day for five weeks. We have been on several dates, and I really like her. It seemed like she liked me, too, but all of a sudden she stopped answering my calls and texts. It has been a few days and she just responded, saying that she's had a lot going on and that she becomes a hermit when things start to go downhill for her.
Is this a sign that she's not interested in me anymore? I still like her. What can I do, or what should I say to her? -- Confused, Jacksonville, Fla.
DEAR CONFUSED: It could be true that this young lady becomes a hermit when she's feeling down. If so, it's unlikely that you can rally her out of her funk. It is too soon to know whether she's over you, though.
Send a short, heartfelt note telling her that even though you have known each other only a short time, you care about her deeply and want her to know that she doesn't have to be alone. Let her know that you want to support her, especially when she is feeling low, and that you will be there in any way she allows. Tell her you will check in periodically to see if she is OK.
After a week or so, if she hasn't responded at all, back off. You can't force her to stay connected. But your good-faith expression of interest may go a long way.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I read your column most mornings and wanted to pass along an observation for "Feeling Guilty," who felt bad about imposing on an adviser while the adviser was seriously ill.
It is possible and likely that the interaction between "Feeling Guilty" and the adviser was helpful to the adviser. It may have served as a distraction from his medical condition. It also likely gave him something "normal" to look forward to on a regular basis. Therefore, no guilt is necessary. -- Interested Observer, La Grange, Ill.
DEAR INTERESTED OBSERVER: Great point. For those who don't remember the question, it was from a student whose adviser supported her through a huge project over time. Only afterward did he share that he was being treated for cancer during that time.
I think you are accurate in pointing out that the way the information was at first withheld and later shared likely helped both of them. The adviser had his commitment to his student, and the student was able to complete the work at hand with expert help, free of the burden of the adviser's health ailment. Afterward, both could address the health crisis and share their support for each other when the moment allowed for them to experience their feelings free of the burden of work.