DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend refuses to send me intimate pictures. We don’t see each other much anymore because of school and our busy schedules, so I feel really neglected. I’m wondering if she even likes me anymore. I don’t want to pressure her, but I’m curious as to why she wouldn’t naturally want to send pictures. Do you think this is a sign of a bigger issue? — Intimacy Issues
DEAR INTIMACY ISSUES: I’m sorry, but I agree 100% with your girlfriend. Too often, explicit photos shared between lovers end up in the wrong hands, and someone ends up paying a hefty price for the indiscretion. Even the most discreet recipient of said photos could have them in an unprotected space where someone else might access them.
Another reality check is that sometimes couples break up, and intimate photos get used as weapons. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but I strongly caution you against pressuring her for photos. Let it be.
What you can do is talk more, video chat more and work harder on maintaining intimacy even at a distance. Get creative; “talk dirty” to each other over the phone. Without recording, use the video feature to allow yourselves to see each other scantily clad when you are talking. You can work to establish excitement and closeness in your busy schedules. Just don’t compromise your privacy as you do it.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My mom will not make a doctor’s appointment. I’m not even sure if she has a primary care physician. I’m frustrated by her disregard for her own well-being, as she is pushing 60. I don’t know how to keep pressure on her about making an appointment, and it’s frustrating for both of us. What should I do? — See a Doctor
DEAR SEE A DOCTOR: Sit with your mother and have a heart-to-heart conversation. Ask her how she feels. Find out if she has aches and pains or physical concerns. Find out if she has health insurance. Ask if she has a long-term care policy. Encourage her to get a physical. Point out that it can serve as a baseline as she enters this new stage in life so that she can be aware of her physical health.
Offer to make an appointment for her and go with her. She may be nervous about seeing a doctor if she doesn’t usually go. Encourage her to take this step as a way of being proactive about her life. Assure her that you can be right there by her side so that she doesn’t have to feel alone or worried. Point out that anything she learns will be helpful.
She can use the information that she gets from a physical to direct her life — how she eats, exercises and rests. Tell her you want her to live a long, healthy life, and you want to support her. You need her to get a checkup so that you can understand where she is and what she needs to be healthy.