DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently met a man through a mutual friend, and I find him kind and thoughtful. We have spoken a few times and even met up as a group with others, and we always have fun.
I learned from our mutual friend that this man has cancer, and he is working hard to fight it -- but he has never mentioned it to me. I would be happy to support him on his health journey, but I don’t feel like it’s my place to talk about his illness unless he mentions it to me. I really like him and would like to be there for him. How can I get that message across without giving away that our mutual friend told me what’s going on? -- Friend in Need
DEAR FRIEND IN NEED: Do not betray your friend’s confidence. That will only make for an awkward situation. Instead, be a bit more assertive when you reach out to this man. Invite him to a home-cooked meal at your house. Find out what his favorite foods are, and offer to make a meal in his honor. If this seems too forward, make it a small dinner party.
Ease into closeness with this guy as you make it clear to him that you like him. Listen for cues that will allow you to let him know that you enjoy being his friend and would like to spend more time together.
If ever you notice that he isn’t doing well, that’s when you can ask him what’s wrong and offer to be of help.