Dear Harlan: I think my boyfriend has a cellphone addiction. He can’t put it down. It’s getting so bad that he has to have it 24/7. He panics if it’s not with him. He hates when I tell him to put it down. I just find it incredibly irritating. He does not see this as a problem.
How can I get him to put it down? I love him very much, and he’s a great guy. It’s not like I’m going to break up with him over this, but I’m increasingly frustrated. Is there some way I can get through to him? — Frustrated
Dear Frustrated: You and everyone else is dealing with this. Call it a problem. When you can’t connect with him because he’s constantly connected to something or someone else, it’s a problem — even if he doesn’t see it.
Avoid labeling his behavior. Talk about you and your feelings. Find a time and place where he can put down his phone and talk. Ask him if he can listen for a few minutes (text him). See if he’s even aware of how much he uses his phone and how much it affects you. Have him check his screen time and phone use. Your boyfriend might be shocked to realize he’s spending hours a day scrolling his screen and picking up his phone.
Share the article “How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain” by Kevin Roose with him. It’s the story of a tech writer who was dealing with a similar situation and got help from Catherine Price, author of “How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life” (Ten Speed Press).
If your boyfriend isn’t open to change and he doesn’t see it as a problem, find outside help. I know you don’t believe it’s a deal-breaker, but this can build deep resentment. Resentment erodes a relationship. Eventually, it breaks it. Deal with this now.
Dear Harlan: How can I share feelings for a friend and guarantee it doesn’t screw up the friendship? We have made a promise to never date. We created this pact because we’ve seen what can happen. She is my best friend. I have had stronger and stronger feelings for her, but she was always in a relationship. Now we are both single. I can’t lose this friend.
My problem is that when I date I’m always wishing I was with her. I have no idea if she has similar thoughts. I know she will be mad at me for bringing this up. Any suggestions on how I can do this without risking it all? — More Than a Friend
Dear More Than a Friend: Do you have more than one friend? I’m serious. If this is your only friend, don’t share your feelings. There is way too much at stake. If you have more than one friend and can handle the worst possible scenario of losing her, here’s how you move forward: Find a time and place where you can have a safe conversation — uninterrupted and relaxed.
Bring up the pact you have. Then mention there was a clause in your friendship that you can bring up being more than friends once every 10 years if you’re both single. See how she responds. Make it clear that you’re completely comfortable either way. Hear what she has to say. Then move forward. If you don’t get together, use the 10-year clause and revisit this topic again in 2029.