DEAR HARRIETTE: The other night my friend's boyfriend was hospitalized under very mysterious circumstances. They were together for most of the evening and everything was fine, but 30 minutes after she left she received a text saying he was in an ambulance. He was texting people and coherent while there, but when she demanded to know what was wrong he said, "I'm fine, don't worry" and neglected to answer any further texts. Rumors were flying that it was "severe abdominal pain," but not even his friends know what was wrong. He was back home the next morning. He is still avoiding any questions regarding the incident. She is really worried that there is something wrong because now he is being strange and avoiding her. How can she help him or figure out what the problem is without making him withdraw further? -- Worried, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
DEAR WORRIED: Unfortunately, your friend cannot force her boyfriend to reveal his health status. It is his personal business. Pestering him will never work. Instead, she should remain supportive and give him his space if that is what he needs right now.
If they are physically intimate, she may want to withdraw from that part of their relationship until he shares what is going on. When he asks why she is refusing him, she can say that she is concerned about his health and wants to know that everything is OK before crossing that line again.
DEAR HARRIETTE: How can I improve my organizational skills? I am going away to school next year, and up to this point in my life I have had serious issues with procrastinating. I tend to do my best work under last-minute pressure, but it doesn't leave much space to get outside advice. Also, if I have a lot of projects at once, it tends to get very stressful. For some reason I have a mental aversion toward scheduling or doing things in advance. How can I help myself with these problems? -- Trouble with Time, Boston
DEAR TROUBLE WITH TIME: I am a big believer in lists. I write down in numbered lists all of the tasks and responsibilities that I have on a daily basis. Throughout the day, I check back to see if I have fulfilled the items on my list. When I do that, I am better able to keep track of my obligations.
This also makes it easy to avoid missing deadlines or other important tasks. I highly recommend that you look at your schedule and map out a plan for success. You can do this by listing the tiny steps that lead up to the big steps. It can be daunting to look at the big picture alone. Breaking your responsibilities down into manageable parts will help you to build a ladder to success.