Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Going to Family Event Is Step in the Right Direction

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to a friend's sister's confirmation as his "date." He and I are more than friends, but not in a relationship. We've been going on dates, and when he invited me, I was reluctant at first because we have not been on many dates since we left the friend zone. My impression was that it would be only his immediate family, but some aunts and uncles flew in to witness his sister's ceremony. It went well. His family was welcoming and kind, but I feel strange about attending such a spiritual event. Though he was told to invite a friend or two, I do not think I was what his mother had in mind. Should I not have gone? Was he in the wrong to have invited me? We did have a nice time, and his family treated me very nicely. I just don't know. -- Unsure Footing, Washington, D.C.

DEAR UNSURE FOOTING: What is key here is that you enjoyed the event, and the family welcomed you. That is the good news. It is also positive that your date felt comfortable inviting you to attend a family event like this. It says a lot for how much he trusts and respects you.

It should also make you wonder if he is interested in making your relationship more concrete. For that matter, you should give it thought yourself. What do you like about this man? What makes you feel comfortable? What makes you feel ill at ease? This event had a bit of both. You should talk about that. You should also talk to each other about the future -- not so much whether you are trying to commit to each other, but if you share interests, values, perspectives.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have fallen into an unhealthy cycle. I have developed really bad sleeping habits that are negatively impacting my daily routines. I often cannot sleep at night. I toss and turn and end up with few hours of actual rest. As a result, I am lethargic throughout the day and unproductive. When I get home from school, I am wiped out and I take a nap. Then I must complete my work, which often carries me late into the evening again, and when I have finished -- around 1 or 2, I am unable to sleep. The cycle is constantly repeating itself, and my academic performance is being impacted. Though I am keeping up with my work from home, I am learning less in school because I am so exhausted, and I am having trouble retaining information for exams. Is there a way that I can remedy this situation? I appreciate your help. -- Sleepless in Scarsdale, Scarsdale, N.Y.

DEAR SLEEPLESS IN SCARSDALE: You need to break your cycle, which is not easy to do. One way to start is to develop new, healthier patterns. Do yoga or some other form of relaxing exercise that can calm your mind and body before it is time to go to sleep. Take a hot bath before going to bed. Turn off the TV or other stimulating influences.

Talk to your doctor to see if there is a temporary medication you can take to help you get through this semester. Take time off this summer to decompress and reset your internal clock.