Dear Harlan,

Without boring you with my long laundry list of woes, let me briefly state that I am 54 years old. I look to be about in my early to mid-40s. I was married for 10 years to a woman who was very nice at first, but after years of me neglecting my marriage and acting like a horse’s behind, she left me a little more than a year ago. Our divorce was final in December 2011. She met a man on an online dating service about a month after our divorce, and married him two short months later. She and her new hubby and my 9-year-old son are moving out of state. During the past year, I’ve been on two dates that went nowhere. I’m not a bad-looking guy and I’m not overweight. I feel pretty lonely right now and feel awful a lot of the time. Any idea how long it will be before I start feeling a little better? I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but women are not attracted to me at all. I don’t know why. I have tried the online thing with little to no success. I attend church, I try to do social things with groups, but I am not a bar guy at all. Any advice or encouragement would probably go a long way.

Fed Up With This

Dear Fed Up,

Let’s be honest. You’re not in a good place, and a new girlfriend isn’t going to get you there. You need to feel as good as you look before looking for a new girlfriend. Depressed, down and divorced isn’t going to get you the right kind of women. Start by finding a therapist you trust. Figure out what went wrong in the past. What was your role? What was your ex’s role? Why did you neglect your wife? Why did you act like a jerk? How can you change your outlook? How can you be happy and independent of a woman? How can you be the best father? Once you do some emotional training, go back to church, go online and get fixed up. Women will be powerless to your good looks, positive outlook and new sense of self.

Dear Harlan,

I currently attend summer school at a large university. I just found out that I am horribly failing the one math class that I’m enrolled in. In the past, I’ve been generally reckless and irresponsible with time and money management. I’m not unintelligent, and I know my mom will be beyond angry when she discovers my extreme mistake. The class is not for credit, and it’s been a learning experience; but I still don’t know how I should let my mom know that everything’s not all right. Any advice?

Struggling

Dear Struggling,

Forget Mommy. Are you happy being so irresponsible and reckless? Do you want to fix the problem? Do you want to save yourself? If you want to change, put together a plan before confessing to your mom. Your academic plan should include a tutor, academic support services and talking to your math teacher. A money-management plan can be as simple as talking to a financial-aid adviser, getting a part-time job and working to find scholarships. Once you have a plan in place, talk to your mom. If you can’t put a plan in place, ask for her help. But don’t expect her to save you. It’s time to save yourself.

Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober)” (St. Martin’s Press). Write Harlan at [email protected]

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