Sense & Sensitivity

Reader Afraid of Getting Catfished

DEAR HARRIETTE: Am I being catfished? I recently met a guy online, and he's beyond what I expected. We talk every day and have thoughtful conversations. We have similarities in the things we like and have many traits in common.

We are planning to meet in person, but I wanted to speak on the phone first and hear his voice to get more of a vibe than just through text messages. This is where the issue arises. He refuses to speak with me on the phone. He says he has anxiety and is extremely shy and doesn't want to run out of things to say. I've tried to convince him to talk to me, but he doesn't budge. Just to be sure, I asked him for more pictures of himself, and he sent them to me the next day. I can't tell if he's the real deal. -- Is This for Real?

DEAR IS THIS FOR REAL?: It is odd that this new suitor is eager to engage over texts but will not speak on the phone. Put your foot down. Tell him that you will not agree to meet with him until you have a phone conversation. Express your understanding that he may be shy, but he has to get past that in order to actually see you and have the chance to explore a relationship with you.

Be clear that his evasion will not work. If he refuses to engage through a call, end your communication. It is possible that he is catfishing you -- or posing as someone he is not with the intention to hoodwink you in some way. If he continues to pursue you, let him know that you would like to get to know him better, but it cannot work as long as he is unwilling to be more open with you.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working on a huge project with a new company, and so far, it has been going well. In the coming week I will be working on-site for several days. As I was ramping up for the in-person visits, I discovered that my main contact was terminated. It was abrupt, and I am in shock. I do know another person at the company and have reached out to her to be my liaison, but I am worried that my contract may fizzle out. What else can I do? -- Lost in Space

DEAR LOST IN SPACE: Thank goodness you have another contact there. Talk to this person immediately, and find out what steps she recommends for you to secure your relationship with the company. If you have a contract, read it carefully to learn if there is guidance on how the terms should be implemented when there is a change.

Get testimonials from any employees with whom you have already engaged. This may help you to maintain your position even after your contact is gone. Finally, act as if the work will continue, and stay closely aligned with the woman you know. Ask her to guide you through the coming days.

(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.)

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