Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I've had a crush on a guy for a while. We were really good friends, but suddenly he stopped speaking to me. I was pretty upset, but I resolved to get over him. I've told him I like him, but he didn't really give me a straight response when I asked how he felt.

After not talking to me for months, he randomly texted me a couple days ago like nothing weird had happened. Should I ask him what's going on? -- Mixed Signals, Pittsburgh

DEAR MIXED SIGNALS: Keep it simple. Ask him what he wants. Chances are that if he has reached out to you out of the blue, he wants something. You probably were a great friend to him. Perhaps he needs a shoulder to cry on. Or he may want your help with something you historically did for him without a second thought. Listen and learn. Confronting him about his disappearance, at least at the outset, will most likely make him disappear again.

You also have to decide what you are willing to do. Do you want to go back into friends mode and be his buddy? If so, you may decide to just slip into that role.

It would be best for you to cool your crush. Directing a lot of emotional energy toward this guy may only make it more difficult for you to find a neutral emotional meeting ground. Calm down and let the relationship unfold naturally.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Concerning the letter from "Best Friend," who worried about her friend whose father died unexpectedly: Please note that families and individuals grieve in many different ways and on different schedules.

My father died unexpectedly after living with me the last two years of his life. I was much like the daughter your reader described. I was pleased that I took my dad's death in stride. I made arrangements and donated clothing quickly and efficiently. But six months later, I found myself bursting into tears at stoplights. It took that long for me to be ready to grieve. I loved (and still love) my dad very much. My family handles grief very privately.

I suspect "Best Friend" doesn't understand that her friend is responding differently than she would. And calling twice a day sounds like a bit much to me. -- Like-Minded, Chicago

DEAR LIKE-MINDED: Thank you for sharing. Of course you are right that people grieve according to their own schedules. Your experience -- in which the fullness of the loss kicked in much later instead of in the early days -- is common, too.

I also know that checking in too often can be annoying. For some people, two calls a day is perfect; for others, it could be way too much. This is why friends need to pay close attention to those who are grieving and gauge when it feels like enough is enough.