DEAR HARRIETTE: My son and his friends from college have all signed up for a trip to Israel after the school year ends, called Birthright Israel. With all of the protests and violence occurring on the Palestinian border, I am scared to let my son go on the trip. Although the program that he is going through has assured the parents that the trip is extremely safe and they will be taking extra precautions, I would rather my son and his friends postpone the trip. How can I bring this up to him and convince him to change the time of the trip? Do you think this is the right thing to do, or am I being irrational? -- Questioning Son's Trip, Queens, New York
DEAR QUESTIONING SON’S TRIP: I’m with you. While I know that many young people take this trip to Israel upon completion of college as a rite of passage, I also know that the violence in the area has escalated in recent days and weeks, and the region is far from stable. I’m sure that the organizers will do all in their power to protect the young people who go, but I would be skeptical as to whether that is enough.
I spoke to a neighbor friend who is from Israel, and she assured me that it is possible to go there and be safe. She encourages people to make the trip anyway. That said, I don’t think I would let my child go there this summer.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m in a bit of a complicated friendship. I have a friend, Justin, who has deep feelings for me, but I don’t feel the same about him. We hook up every once in a while, but there are other guys I hook up with, too.
I recently found out that I have syphilis; a few weeks ago I checked my thigh and saw there was this big ball shape and it hurt every time I walked, so I went to the doctor. After my appointment, I called everyone I was sexually active with and told them to get tested. Most reacted OK. Justin shut down and told me he was upset with me because he felt as if I accused him of giving me syphilis. Now he doesn’t want to be friends with me because he thinks I accused him. How do I get through to him that I was just telling him in case I gave it to him? I wasn’t accusing him of anything. -- Paranoid Friend, San Francisco
DEAR PARANOID FRIEND: I have to start by scolding you a bit. If you are going to "hook up" with multiple partners, is it imperative that you practice safe sex. Unprotected sex can lead to so many health problems. You are being reckless.
I will commend you for going to the doctor AND telling all of your sexual partners about your diagnosis. That couldn’t have been easy to do. With Justin, you can tell him once more that you accused him of nothing. Instead, you were informing him so he could get tested. After that, leave him be. He is likely also upset because your feelings do not match his. You may be better off letting him go.
(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.)