HELP ME, HARLAN! – Hopeless? Find greater purpose in a higher power

By Harlan Cohen

Harlan Cohen

Dear Harlan.

Your recent answer to Losing Hope, the teenager who was feeling hopeless, was good. However, you didn’t even mention in passing the most important piece of advice that he needed: forming a connection with God and the spiritual world. When we place all of our effort and hope in ourselves and the things of this world, it is never enough. We have to believe and come to know that we were made for a purpose greater than what we achieve in this world, and that success here is only the prelude to the hereafter. You should not be afraid to tell readers to seek out some spirituality in their lives wherever they so choose. It is in faith that those with despair will find real comfort, security and purpose to their lives — not in something or someone else. Yes, relationships with others can help, but they can never replace the real security found in a genuine spiritual relationship. I don’t always agree with your advice — especially when you get into sexual matters — but some of what you share is OK. Just don’t be afraid to add a little morality to your advice. Thanks, and God bless.


Dear DH,

I agree with you — I’m a big fan of morality, too. I also encourage connecting to a higher power. I call the process “training spiritually.” It’s the idea of having things in our lives that no one can take away. It’s having people and places where we are always included, accepted and desired. Religion and a higher power are always there for people. When we feel powerless, we are always be accepted, included and loved by a higher power. When we surround ourselves with people who believe in a higher power, there is always strength and hope. Thank you for the reminder, and God bless you.


Dear Harlan,

How do I approach someone of the another race if I don’t know her preferences? There is a woman I’m interested in dating, but I don’t want to offend her or assume she would be interested in me. I know some people can be sensitive about racial issues.

Flirting With Race

Dear Flirting With Race,

If this were 1955, I’d say you would have to be careful. But the racial climate has changed. According to Pew Research, one in six U.S. newlyweds (17 percent) married a person of a different race or ethnicity in 2015. This doesn’t even include interracial dating. Race is a small part of who she is. It’s an important part, but it’s most likely not the only part she factors into dating. The challenge isn’t her preference; it’s how comfortable you feel about dating someone of a different race. I’m getting the feeling it’s a pretty sensitive issue for you. You’ve already made race an issue, and you haven’t even started dating this woman. That says more about you than her. Focus on yourself. How comfortable are YOU dating someone of a different race? That’s all you need to think about. If you’re comfortable and interested, ask her out. If she’s interested in dating you, then you’ll know she is open to dating you and not very concerned about the color of skin covering your body. If she’s not interested, then you can move on without judgment. Her lack of interest could have nothing to do with race and everything to do with a list of other reasons.


Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober)” (St. Martin’s Press). Write Harlan at or visit online: All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan!, 2720 Dundee Road, Suite 226, Northbrook, IL 60062.

© Harlan Cohen 2018; Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.


HELP ME, HARLAN! – Hopeless? Find greater purpose in a higher power–