Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

New Friend Cuts Off Communication Without Warning

DEAR HARRIETTE: I hit it off with a new friend, and we’ve been chatting on social media. We have exchanged numbers and have been texting every day. The conversation flowed smoothly.

Recently, I've been noticing a pullback. He started to take several hours to respond to my messages, then suddenly and completely stopped. I waited a couple of days before sending more messages. I then sent a message asking if everything was going well, and I received no response. Initially I hoped that nothing bad happened to him, but my gut tells me that something fishy is going on. Why would a person cut off communication so abruptly? -- Stopped Short

DEAR STOPPED SHORT: Chances are, this man is either married or in a committed relationship. That he was totally engaged and communicating regularly with you only to abruptly stop suggests that outside forces were involved.

While it can be disconcerting to have enjoyed so much one-on-one time with him only to have him disappear, it is probably best for you to cut your losses. You cannot force him to write to you. Whatever happened has taken him away from you. Let him go; if he does resurface, he will need to explain what happened, but I wouldn’t wait for him to return.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I witnessed horrific behavior by the leader of a work project to a summer intern. The project leader was rude and condescending in the most unprofessional ways to a young woman who had come to volunteer for the summer and who was trying her best to complete the task at hand. The project leader has been known to berate people sometimes, but this was out of control.

When we had a private moment, I reached out to the young woman to make sure she was OK; she was not. She has since left the company to go back to college, but the damage was done. What else can I do to support her? Saying something to the project leader probably won’t do a thing. She is bull-headed and mean. Since I need my job, I’m afraid to approach her. Our company is small, so we don’t have a human resources director. How can I help? -- Not a Bystander

DEAR NOT A BYSTANDER: Sometimes you have to stand in harm’s way to effect change. You say you are afraid to speak up because you could lose your job. It’s likely that the reason this woman continues to go off on people is because others have been afraid to stand up to her.

Since the young woman is already gone, you can wait until the next time this woman bullies someone and speak up to defend the other person. You can use a lighthearted tone, asking the boss to lay off the person, or you can be more sober about it and speak to her privately and ask if she would consider being less caustic when dealing with employees. Tell her how uncomfortable the interaction made you feel, and point out that it’s hard for people to be productive when they feel they can do nothing right.

(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.)