Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend Ignores Reader for Months at a Time

DEAR HARRIETTE: Last year, I felt my friend "Marlo" distancing herself from me. I would constantly try to reach out to her, but we would spend time together infrequently. I stopped reaching out, and have heard radio silence.

Another friend stopped reaching out to Marlo at the same time, and confronted her about not wanting to be friends with us. Marlo was shocked and claims she had no idea she was acting this way. Is it possible to forget about your friends for months? -- Two-Way Street, Seattle

DEAR TWO-WAY STREET: I wonder if something is going on with Marlo that she is hiding. Before you give up on her entirely, reach out one more time, and attempt to get her to meet you face-to-face. Be a good listener and gentle questioner. Do your best to find out what’s going on in her life. On a good news track, it could be that she has a new suitor and is preoccupied. It could also be that she is overwhelmed at work, recently unemployed or facing a health scare.

One of my closest friends became reclusive for several years. While I talked to her regularly on the phone, she always seemed to bow out of face-to-face encounters, even though we were very close. I got really mad at her a couple of times when she stood me up for activities. When I finally got to see her, I discovered that she was very ill. She had kept this from everyone, including her family and closest friends. Sometimes people hide from the ones they love when they need their friends the most. Don’t give up on Marlo yet.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been sick for the past week, and I haven't been able to come into work to complete projects. My days off were spent sleeping for about 18 hours and relaxing as best as I could.

Now that I am healthier, I realize I neglected a group project I had been working on. My boss knew I was out sick, but I did not make an effort to communicate to the group. How do I reach out to my group and apologize? Is an apology even necessary considering I have a valid excuse? -- “I” in Team, Boston

DEAR “I” IN TEAM: Being legitimately ill is real. Of course, you should apologize for not being there when your team needed you. Let them know that you are sorry you were unable to do your part in the group project. Without belaboring your illness, let them know that you were so sick that you did not even have the presence of mind to contact them. Thank them for pulling up the slack, and jump back in. Find out what work is left to do as well as what they are working on now. Do your best to focus your energy so that you can do your best as you transition back into the office.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)