DEAR HARRIETTE: I have two siblings. I am close to one and things are awkward with the other. Over the years I have tried to maintain a bond with my brother, but now I am tired. Depending on her mood when I call, she can be friendly or terse. I never know what I’m going to have, and she never puts up with my feelings. I always have to bow down to her. I’ve had it up to here. My parents made us promise that we would stay connected after they passed away. I think my mom knew there was a good chance we were going to separate. But now I don’t want to work anymore. I’m sick of being hurt and being criticized or fired based on her whims. Can I walk away now even though she is my flesh and blood? – Remote
DEAR STRANGE: You can change the tone of your engagement. You have to decide what you will accept and what you will not accept. If it is unacceptable for your sister to speak to you in a certain way, say it clearly so that your message is clear. Tell her that if she continues to denigrate you, your next step will be to take a step back from her. You are tired of his inappropriate and disrespectful communication with you.
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After that you have to prove that you mean what you say. If she berates you on the phone, say goodbye and hang up. If she embarrasses you in front of friends, stop spending time with her when you are with friends. Decide what the limits are – and enforce them. This is true even if it means that you are withdrawing from your relationship with her. Blood or not, she cannot criticize you without consequences. I can’t imagine your parents would have tolerated this.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I thought about my life and the choices I made, and I realize that I haven’t always been rational in my behavior. When I wanted something, especially if it was a man, I gave it my all, regardless of anything else. In one case, I think I harassed this guy so badly that he ended up moving out of my town. I know it sounds awful, but I think it happened. I saw him a few months ago, and he was cordial but distant. Looking back, I can see how out of control I was. I want to apologize. Do you think it’s okay? I’m not trying to get back with him or disrupt his life in any way. I really think fines are needed here. — Make amends
DEAR CHANGING: If there’s a way for you to talk to this man without making a big deal out of it, go for it. Sincerely apologizing for uncontrollable behavior is a good idea when you finally realize how much your behavior has affected another. It is worth saying that you are sorry for all that you have done to make her life uncomfortable and wish her well. Leave it there. Do not let yourself be carried away by him anymore. He deserves to be free from you.
DEAR HARRIETTE: It’s summer now! I just got out of my summer clothes, and am checking the reality. I knew I had gained weight during the pandemic, but at home I mostly wore sweatpants and pajama bottoms, so it didn’t really matter. Now I have found that I cannot fit into any of my shorts. Pants without elastic do not zip. My crop tops reveal rolls of fat that don’t need to be highlighted. I am mortified. Yes, that means I need to lose some weight, but right now I don’t have anything to wear. Do you think I should give it my all and buy a whole new wardrobe or just buy a few things and motivate myself to lose weight so that I can fit what I have? – Unfit
DEAR INFORMED: Don’t give it all away! Buy a few basic items to make yourself comfortable in your life. But use this reality check to get you back on track. Make a movement plan and a nutritional plan. You must reduce your calorie intake to lose weight. Learn about healthy, low-calorie diets and find something that works for you. Many people follow WW (formerly Weight Watchers) with great results because it helps you track your intake throughout the day and gives you advice on the value of whatever you put in your mouth.
Choose an accountability partner who can inspire you to keep your program going even when you don’t feel like it. Set a goal for when you’ll be able to tuck into your favorite pants or top. Try them out every week. When they adjust again, you can rejoice!
DEAR HARRIETTE: The final year is approaching, which means my school is on the verge of going out of the clinic. All the fun traditions for senior citizens like Halloween and the prom are deeply rooted in social groups. Unfortunately, I don’t exactly have a definitive group of friends. During lunch, I wander from table to table, chatting with everyone I see. None of my friends seem to get along with each other, so I don’t think there’s a chance that I’m forming my own band. Also, all of last year and part of the year before we were at home, unable to meet in the groups we had. Everything seems awkward to me now that I think about going back to school. I don’t want to feel left out or sad about these events. What should I do? – The high school cliques
DEAR SECONDARY CLICKS: Many students feel uncomfortable about what the next school year will be like. Social life is important at school, and many students have missed more than a year of companionship. Chances are, some of the previous cliques have dissolved as more groups of friends have emerged.
Rather than focusing on who ends where, focus on your intentions. What do you want to happen in your final year? What events do you want to attend? Who would you like to attend? Pick a few teens who you think are friendly and not part of an established clique. Start spending time with them. Do your best to bond with them now so that you naturally feel an affinity for each other. Talk about social activities early on to get a feel for their interest in participating. Do you propose to go together.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friends always want to eat out or shop at the mall. My dad recently lost his job at the bank, and I don’t have that kind of money right now. On the one hand, I think my friends would understand if I told them I can’t afford to spend that much money, but I also don’t want them to know that my family is in financial trouble. The last thing I want is pity. Should I tell my friends or keep my family’s problems to myself? – Scared and alone
DEAR FEAR AND ALONE: Is there someone in your group of friends who you can confide in? I agree that you might not want to broadcast your family’s situation to the whole group, but it would help if you had someone who could be your confidant. Do your best to choose someone who will keep your secret.
Know, however, that there is no shame in a family in the face of reality. Thousands of Americans lost their jobs during the pandemic, and many have yet to recover valuable incomes that will support their households. If your friends find out, they should be supportive, but we can never be sure how others will act.
You can go shopping with your friends and enjoy the experience without spending any money. My mom called it window shopping. Sometimes we literally enjoyed fashion through glass. Other times we would go in and try things. Sometimes we made small purchases. You can watch, try and put it back. It can be fun in itself.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like my good friend is bothering me all the time. She has no regard for my time. She has a ton of other friends that she could go to the trouble of helping, but she seems to be asking only me. If I don’t do her these favors, she’ll give me attitude for days. I don’t like to feel abused. Do I have to say something about this? – Ask someone else
DEAR, ASK SOMEONE ELSE: Stop jumping when she asks you to do something. Be prepared to put up with his attitude as you draw the line and set limits for yourself. Talk to your friend too. You absolutely have to tell her that you are starting to feel like she is taking advantage of your kindness. Give him concrete examples of what you want to say. Explain to her that you are happy to help her sometimes, but that she is constantly asking you for favors, and that is just too much. If she pushes back and says something like, “This is what friends are for. Are you saying you don’t wanna be my friend anymore? »Counter with the fact that being friends is a reciprocal experience. Right now it’s pretty one-sided, she asks you for favors and you perform them.
Ultimately, your behavior will determine what happens next. You don’t have to do everything this friend asks, so stop. If she stops acting like your friend, it means she wasn’t a real friend anyway.
Harriette Cole is a life stylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send your questions to [email protected] or c / o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106