Dear Harlan,

My relationship with my sister is strained. She always seems to have a problem, but she will never let me help her out. How can I support and help her when she won’t let me? I’m getting to the place where I’m ready to give up. Help.

Sad Sibling

Dear Sad Sibling,

It would be so much easier if you had a friend who didn’t help herself. Then you could just cut ties or ignore her. But when it’s a sister, you are tied together for life. Fix her problems by setting boundaries when she shares her problems. If you can’t listen to her problems without having a problem, don’t listen. Tell her that you love her, but unless she wants help, you can’t listen. Suggest she find a therapist to listen or a friend with problems to listen. Let her know you’re there to help her when she wants it. If she doesn’t want help, suggest she talk to a medical professional. Your sister may never help herself, but you need to allow her to not get help. You can’t fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed.

Dear Harlan,

I finally confessed my feelings for a close friend. He said he feels the same way, but hasn’t done anything about it. I’ve already made it easy for him to date me. What do you do if you’re in love with someone and he says he feels the same, but everything stays the same? I’m not sure what’s next.

Impatiently Waiting

Dear Impatiently Waiting,

He’s either afraid to date you or he doesn’t want to date you. Ask him. He might not know how to approach you. He might be inexperienced. He might be dealing with a family crisis. He might have herpes or genital warts. Ask him directly and honestly if he is going to take you on a date. Let him know that if he’s uncomfortable, you’re cool talking about it all. If he’s not willing to share and get comfortable with the uncomfortable, find someone else who can love you and date you.

Dear Harlan,

Every time I ask a great girl out, there is something going on in her life that would make the relationship complicated. It’s gotten to the point where I’m too depressed to ask people out anymore. Should I stop trying, or should I try again if another possibility arises? I’m not sure I can handle another excuse.

Excused Out

Dear Excused Out,

Take a break. You need to rest. You are getting too beat up. Excuses are part of the sport of dating. You have to appreciate that some men take longer to fall in love with than others. That might be you. Turn yourself into a slow burn. A slow burn knows he’s hot and gives women time to warm up. An excuse is just a chance to have a conversation. So give women permission to not be interested at first. Build friendships with them. In the meantime, put yourself in places where you can find great women who are available. Online dating sites, setups and places singles meet will help you find and be found.

For now, take a break. Rest. Recoup. Work to feel your best physically, emotionally and spiritually. Then turn excuses into opportunities to learn more about the person you’re meeting and yourself.

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