Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I’m a (girl) college freshman who has never had a boyfriend. I have feelings for some guys, but even though we get along as friends nothing more seems to happen (despite subtle hints). I feel frustrated because I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I am decently attractive, fit and intelligent. I was more reserved in high school and have just started opening up to boys, but I don’t know quite what to do to get them interested in me.
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Try being incrementally less subtle — meaning, nudge the boundaries of your comfort zone, versus jumping out of it completely.
More important, be patient. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable you’ll be around people in general — and the less of an issue this will be, since familiarity will allow you to both give and receive more effective signals.
When you get to the point where guys are just people to you, and not a mysterious Other, that’s also when you’ll make the best decisions; instead of worrying about your worthiness of them, you’ll be able to focus on their worthiness of you.
Dear Carolyn: My wife’s great-grandmother passed away last week quietly in her sleep at the age of 92. We just returned from the funeral services, and my wife asked me last night why I was so “cold” during them. I suggested we talk about it during a less charged time, which is true, but I am also trying to frame my thoughts properly.
My biological father passed when I was 4, and I was raised by my mother and stepfather, who are wonderful. But I think this experience so early in life gave me a different viewpoint about grieving and death than my wife. I think we should all be so lucky to live to 92 and die quietly in our sleep.
Her death is sad, absolutely, but not a tragedy. My wife’s family was very theatrical and dramatic in their grief, and I frankly didn’t know how to respond to it. I heard numerous people say they didn’t see this coming. She was 92!
My wife’s family has excellent genes and very good luck; this is the first funeral my wife has been to for family (she is 28). I can see where she views me as cold, but I can’t help but view her as naive. I don’t know how I should say this to her, or if I should say anything at all.
How’s this for a frame?: “Given how young my father was when he died, it was hard for me to see your grandmother’s death as anything but what I’d hope for for myself — a long life and a peaceful death. And I knew this would be insensitive to you all in your grief, so I just kept my mouth shut. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to do so more gracefully.”
Just don’t use this to frame any commentary on theatrics. Beyond explaining your reticence, the less said the better.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com.