Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Young Man Must Live His Own Life, Not Mom's

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 25-year-old guy who still lives with his mother. I have had some trouble finishing college and getting my career together. But in reality, I think I’ve been sacrificing my needs for the needs of my mom. My mom is a divorced, lonely woman, and I think she likes having me at home. I know I need to get my life together and be an adult. I feel I am stuck between making my mother happy but sacrificing my future, or leaving my mom by herself and trying to pursue my life and dreams. How do I navigate this situation? -- Lonely Mom Vs. My Own Life, Baltimore

DEAR LONELY MOM VS. MY OWN LIFE: Many sons of single mothers find themselves in the position of serving as more than just a son. They take on the role of caregiver, too. You have to be mindful of caring for your mother and forging your own destiny. Make a 12-month plan for yourself. Write down your goals, and then list steps that can get you there. Finishing college should be at the top. Getting a job so that you can save to get your own home is key. Spending time with friends outside of your home is important. Talk to your mother about your plans, and work to get her support. Going out on your own does not mean you are abandoning her. It means you are growing up and becoming independent. It is time.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I work in the entertainment industry and love my job. I am surrounded by creative and wonderful people. I am 99 percent sure that both of my bosses are gay men. (I am a straight young woman.) They have both been constantly winking at me. Is that weird? Or am I just used to gross straight men winking at me when it’s not wanted? I don’t think this qualifies as sexual harassment of any kind and I don’t even think it makes me feel uncomfortable, but I don’t know what to make of it. -- Accidental Wink, Ithaca, New York

DEAR ACCIDENTAL WINK: If you are up for it, ask them what their winks mean the next time you notice it. You can be upbeat when you ask. Humor is a great way to break the ice and address awkward situations. Behavior doesn’t have to be considered harassment in order to be uncomfortable. You can tell them that you are finding it difficult to read some of their behaviors toward you, and you want to know what they mean. They will probably be surprised and may not even realize how they have been behaving. Your alerting them may make a difference.

Since it is odd to you but not untoward, don’t make a big deal of it. If they give you an answer, take it at face value. Ultimately, know that people can be awkward and clumsy with each other even when they are well-meaning. This may just be a sign of their idiosyncrasies.

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