HELP ME, HARLAN! Secretly gay man can’t get over most recent rejection

Harlan Cohen

Dear Harlan,

I’ve known I was gay since 1987, and at the time, I had no idea what people called it. I was raised Catholic, so my family never understood what I was going through. My first boyfriend and I met at summer camp and dated from 1987 to 1992. His family was Lutheran, so eventually, his dad made us break up. In 2015, I met another good man. He was 24 years old. He was tall, blond, athletic, good-looking and a smart college boy. I took my time and got to know him as friends first. Then, over the course of a year, I told him I was gay. I also made it clear that I liked him a lot, and when he felt up to it, I would be interested in dating him. When I told him this, he became very quiet. He also was secretive, moody and jealous. I had no idea why. Little by little, he began to pull back. Then, he said he needed his space. I gave it to him — eight weeks of it, until he cut off all contact. The problem is that I still like him, but I don’t know if he would listen to me at this point. What do you recommend?

Still Interested

Dear Still Interested,

He knows you’re gay, and he’s not interested. Why he’s not interested is unimportant. Assume he’s not gay or in a relationship. What jumps out to me is how guarded you still sound when it comes to your sexual orientation. I could be wrong, but if you were more open and honest with more men, your world would open up. You wouldn’t have to spend your energy on a cute guy from your past because you would be with cute guys in the present. I imagine you don’t meet a lot of men. If you did, again, this wouldn’t be something you’d be thinking about. Instead of putting another second of energy into this guy, find other men. Find men who are comfortable, confident and self-assured with their sexual orientation. Having a core group of men who are friends with you will make it easier to let go of the past and spend time in the moment.


Hi Harlan.

Our son does not communicate with us much. He “promised” to call us once a week, but I’m not sure if it’ll actually happen because sometimes he does not even answer our texts. What’s a good, non-intrusive way to know what is happening in his life while he is in college?

Distant Son

Dear Distant Son,

Wait for him to run out of money – then he’ll learn how to text. What do you really want to know? That he’s safe? That he’s happy? Figure out what you want. Give him a chance to surprise you. If he isn’t communicative, ask him what is the best way to communicate with him. He might be better at communicating via Facebook or Snapchat. When it comes to gauging his well-being, plug into his social networks. Observe him. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat can be helpful places for getting good info. Don’t “like” his posts or interact with him; that will

get you unfriended or cut off. In addition, make sure he has a therapist or counselor to talk to. Finally, plan a visit or two. Make it a fast drop-in. There’s nothing like walking around campus and watching how he interacts with other people on campus. Oh, and if you ever get scared because he ignores you, there’s GPS on his phone (if he’s on your plan).


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 2017

Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.

–HELP ME, HARLAN! Secretly gay man can’t get over most recent rejection–