DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a hard time keeping in touch with people. I have gone months and even years without calling people I really care about. It’s not because I don’t love them. More, it’s that they aren’t around, and I just don’t think about them. I have even gone weeks without calling my mother. Obviously I love her. But I’m busy with my life, and time just slips by.
Recently, some friends have called me out on this. One old friend complained that I should have at least called him back when he tried to check in on me during the shutdown. I agreed, but I haven’t really altered my behavior. I don’t know that I can change at this stage of the game. I am a grown man. I don’t know why people expect me to become somebody else. How can I get them to back off and leave me be? -- Stuck in My Ways
DEAR STUCK IN MY WAYS: I’m sorry, but I can’t give you a pass on your behavior. You know that it is not kind to forget about your loved ones -- and to be flippant about checking in with them, especially during an international health emergency. You can do better than this.
Breaking a behavioral pattern is hard to do, though. I recommend that you begin to keep a daily or weekly calendar. Included in your everyday duties for work and for home, add a “loved ones” list. Write down the names of people you care about, from family to friends. Then put their names into your calendar sprinkled throughout the days and weeks at times when you can place a call. Don’t pass the day without attempting to reach them. You can do it.