Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Girlfriend Never Looks up From Her Screens

DEAR HARRIETTE: In today's world, social media and technology are a big part of everybody's life, especially my girlfriend's. She is constantly attached to her phone or watching shows on her laptop. I understand that there are important matters that need to be attended to on her devices, but I want her to enjoy living in the moment more and appreciate the things around her, not just her phone.

Another big issue I have with her and technology is the fact that she loves publicizing our relationship. Sometimes I feel as if the things we do are purely for an Instagram picture. How do I help my girlfriend reduce her technology usage? -- Technology-Addicted Girlfriend, Raleigh, North Carolina

DEAR TECHNOLOGY-ADDICTED GIRLFRIEND: In this day and age, it seems impossible to have privacy. Most people are attached to their electronic devices in one way or another. That does not mean you should give your girlfriend a pass. As it relates to posts about the two of you and your relationship, you need to talk to her and establish boundaries around what is OK for her to post. This may mean she has to get your nod before she posts a photo or shares a detail about your life together. What probably won't work is asking her to post nothing at all about you, since this brings her joy.

As far as your girlfriend's inability to separate herself from her devices, what you may be able to do is lure her away here and there. Plan outdoor activities where you visit beautiful locations, dine at interesting restaurants, engage with other people. Ask her to put her device away for most of these experiences. When you reach a gorgeous vista, encourage her to pull out her phone to take a photo -- then put it away again. Same for shooting a delicious-looking meal. Do your best to help manage her device engagement. Sometimes you may need to be stern and demand that she give you some solo time, devoid of any social media connection.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-husband recently moved to London for his job. My son and I are still living in New York. This summer, we have all agreed that my son, who is 16, will spend the summer with his father in London. I am not nervous about being apart from him, or him being in London, because I know my ex will take just as good care of him as I would.

For some reason, though, the one thing that I am totally freaked out about is letting my son travel alone. I hear all these horror stories about children traveling alone and predators abducting them. Is this an irrational fear I have? Do you have any tips on how to reduce my anxiety about this? -- Mother Nervous About Son Flying Alone, New York City

DEAR MOTHER NERVOUS ABOUT SON FLYING ALONE: The good news is that most airlines offer a companion service for minors who are traveling alone. Usually, for about $150 you can have a flight attendant look out for your son while he is on the plane and until he is united with his father. This process can provide tremendous relief. Your teenager will still have a bit of independence, but an adult will be watching over him.

(Harriette Cole is a life stylist 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.)