I spoke to an old friend, who told me that one of his closest friends just died. He said that in the past year, he has lost most of his oldest friends and worries that he will be alone soon. He has a wife and a grown child, plus I am his friend, and he has other friends, too. But I understand what he means. Sometimes you can feel totally alone, even if you have people around. Feeling a sense of mortality when you start losing your friends is natural, I guess.
How can I let my friend know that I am there for him? Now that he is so sad, I want to make sure that he feels comforted by those of us who are still alive. What can I do or say?
— Helping a Friend
Dear Helping A Friend: Stay in close touch with your friend. Tell him directly how much you love him and care about him. Tell him you share his sadness at the loss of his good friend. Assure him that he is not alone — you are present, along with other close friends. Over the next few weeks and months, call him regularly and invite him to meet for coffee or drinks. Text him to check on him. As time goes by, check in with him. By establishing a new rhythm with your friend, you can help him to feel better and strengthen your bond.
I did this with one of my dear friends when her husband died. We went from speaking intermittently to speaking on the phone almost every weekday morning until she died several years later. She was sad, and I think our communications helped ease her pain.
Dear Harriette: My girlfriend spends a ton of time on social media, but she doesn’t like or comment on my posts. She is blowing up social media on the regular — making comments on many of her friends’ pages, but she hardly ever says anything on mine, and we are supposed to be a couple. Sometimes, I even feel like she is flirting with people online. When I ask her about this, she says she wants to keep her personal life private. I don’t know how I feel about that. Some of her posts sound personal, but they are with people who are peripheral to her.
I have asked her to engage with me on social media, but she doesn’t do it. Otherwise, we seem to be cool, but I don’t like being invisible when I’m supposed to be her guy.
— Invisible Man
Dear Invisible Man: The world of social media is increasingly more complicated, in part because it is hard to separate real life from cyber life. Perhaps your girlfriend is trying to do that by keeping you and your life with her separate from her social media orbit.
Before losing your cool, evaluate whether her offline behaviors demonstrate commitment and honest connection to you and your relationship. It could be true that she wants to keep you out of the social media fray. The flirting part is another matter. Talk to her about that directly. Ultimately, both of you need to be comfortable with the ways in which you engage each other and the rest of the world, including cyber connections. Communication is key here. Talk it out, even if it’s hard to do.