DEAR HARRIETTE: I have noticed one of my friends acting off and not herself lately. She has lost over 15 pounds in the last two months and is always crying. My friends and I have been worried and do not know how to approach her because she is so sensitive and does not listen to anything we say. Should we say something to her parents? Or how do you suggest we approach her directly? -- Worried Friend, Phoenix
DEAR WORRIED FRIEND: You have every reason to be worried about your friend’s well-being. It is not normal for a person to lose so much weight so quickly, nor to be so consistently emotional. Before going to her parents, try talking to your friend. You can say upfront how much you care about her and want her to be happy and healthy. Tell her you have noticed that she cries a lot and you are wondering if anything happened to make her sad. Be still and listen to see if she will share what’s going on.
As far as the weight goes, tread even more carefully. Invite her out to eat with you. Notice if she eats at all. Then go for it and tell her that you have noticed that she has lost a lot of weight. Ask if she is feeling OK and if she knows why she is losing so rapidly. If your friend is unwilling to discuss any of her issues and seems to be in denial, the next step is her parents.
When you go to them, try to make the meeting face-to-face. Be upfront and tell them about your worries. Explain that you know how sensitive their daughter is so you don’t want to hurt her feelings, but you would feel irresponsible if you didn’t say anything to her parents.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My senior prom is coming up in a month. Usually, the guys ask the girls to prom. At our school, it is called a “promposal,” and it is a big deal. I am not the kind of girl who likes to publicize relationships; I like to keep everything private. The guy who is asking me to prom wants to make it a big deal, but I do not know how to tell him I don’t want to be promposed to without making him upset. What should I do? -- Prom Girl, Rye, New York
DEAR PROM GIRL: This is a tough situation that likely requires compromise. Your date is proud to have you go with him and wants to brag about it, which is your school's norm. He may get teased for keeping it a secret. You must tell him that you don’t love the idea of the public promposal. Do not expect him to know this. Ask him if he can make his declaration as quiet as possible because you do not like being the center of attention. Talk together about a plan that you can feel comfortable with.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)