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DEAR HARRIETTE: My half-sister and I have a very strained relationship. We weren’t raised together, but she’s been around me my entire life. Ever since I can remember, she’s been unreliable. She doesn’t make good on her promises, and she completely leaves me out to dry when I need her. She recently announced her engagement and has asked me to be her maid of honor. This is a huge responsibility, and I’m not up for the task. I would never be able to rely on her for something so serious, and I don’t like that she knows she can rely on me. Is this a bad reason to decline her offer? — Not Up for It
DEAR NOT UP FOR IT: You do not have to agree to this task. You can simply tell your sister that you do not have the bandwidth to fulfill the duties of being her maid of honor at this time. Tell her that you know what this role entails, and you cannot do that now. Apologize, but stay firm. If you are willing to be part of the wedding party, offer her that.
Your bigger issue needs to be addressed, too. Perhaps this is the time to do that, before she starts a new chapter in her life. If you are ready for it, invite her to meet with you. Talk to her face-to-face about how you feel about your relationship. Explain that it hurts your feelings a lot that she has not had your back over the years. Tell her what you hope for in a relationship with her at this stage in your lives. Work together to create a lasting bond.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve started seeing someone, and I’ve noticed a strange pattern. I like them a lot and they’ve been wonderful, but almost every evening at around the same time, they go completely missing. Sometimes it’s 7 p.m. and sometimes it’s around 8 p.m., but it is always far too early in the evening for me to assume that they’ve fallen asleep. They won’t answer my calls or text me back at all during that time. I know that we are only in the early stages of getting to know each other, but could this be cause for concern? — Missing in Action
DEAR MISSING IN ACTION: Have you ever asked them what they are doing and where they go during that time? A simple question will likely yield some kind of explanation. If your friend is Muslim, it is possible that they are praying during that time. Similarly, there may be some other ritual that they perform daily. It could be visiting someone who is ill. It could be ANYTHING! That’s why you have to ask.
It can be part of a conversation. As you two are getting to know each other, introduce things about your life that they may find interesting. Invite them to do the same.