DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who is very difficult to get close to, but he’s very sweet sometimes, too. He is always posting touching images of animals or babies and children doing nice things to and for each other on social media. In person, he is hard to reach. He does not return calls often. He is a flake. That is, until he chooses to spend time with you; then you feel like the most important person in the world. I think I crave the attention that he sometimes shows me, but it hurts my feelings that everything is on his terms. How can I manage my expectations differently? I don’t like the downside of how our friendship makes me feel. -- Distant Friend
DEAR DISTANT FRIEND: It sounds like you need to accept the reality of this man’s friendship. He has shown you how he behaves and how he engages people. You seem to crave more than he is willing to give. That doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person. It does say that you have not accepted the terms of this relationship.
You already know that the way that people interact on social media is not necessarily reflective of who they are and how they engage in “real life.” Social media is a way for people to posture. It sounds like your friend chooses positive images to share with the world, but they are not of him or about him. Stop trying to read between the lines to find a way to get closer to this man. Instead, either be OK with the time and attention that he affords you, or decide that it is not enough and walk away.