DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been dating a guy this year who seemed attentive. We would get together at least once a week, sometimes more. Then summer came. He has been virtually absent all summer long. There has always been an excuse, like he had to travel here or there to deal with family or to help a sick friend. Summer is almost over, and I have hardly seen him. It has been so bad that I haven’t even been able to sit down with him and find out what’s going on. He couldn’t be more different now than he was for the previous six months. Should I just move on, or should I try to get a handle on things? -- Rogue Boyfriend
DEAR ROGUE BOYFRIEND: If you can’t even find your “boyfriend” in order to talk to him about his absence, you need to take a step back. You don’t necessarily have to do anything, just stop trying to force something to happen. Clearly, he has made other choices that have filled his time for the past several weeks. You don’t like it, and you can’t seem to do anything about it. Stepping away is a viable option.
If and when he resurfaces, be quiet and let him explain himself. Don’t be quick to take him back, though. Being with you wasn’t convenient for him for an entire season; should it be convenient for you now?
DEAR HARRIETTE: A trusted and close family member of mine has a problem with spending money that she does not have. She uses my credit cards, along with certain other relatives' credit cards, sometimes asking for permission and other times behind our backs. She is always asking to borrow money. This family member claims she doesn’t live to impress others, but I think that has a lot to do with it. She buys fancy clothes and goes on vacation, but then will end up late for rent.
We have had several talks with her, but nothing seems to work. Whenever I ask about a trip she is taking and if she can afford it, she lies and says she has the money for it. I recognize this as an unhealthy addiction and would like advice on how to get her to stop these habits that could harm not just her, but us as well. I don't think she will take well to us calling her out on her actions. -- End the Addiction
DEAR END THE ADDICTION: What you and your family can do is stop enabling this family member. There is no reason she should have access to your credit cards, for starters. Go to the issuer and cancel those cards and get new ones issued with new numbers that you do not give her. When she asks to borrow money, say no. Be strong, and refuse to help her. She needs to hit rock bottom in order to learn how to rise from the ashes. As hard as it may be for you to stand by and watch this happen, this is your job now. You can also refer her to debtorsanonymous.org.
(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.)