Take the risk that leads to love this Valentine’s Day

Smell that? Ah, that’s the smell of love. There’s also another stench. It’s the scent of people who hate this time of year.

Dear Readers: Smell that? Ah, that’s the smell of love.

There’s also another stench. It’s the scent of people who hate this time of year.

Yes, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. As much as Valentine’s Day is about love, it’s about not being in love and longing to share it.

I understand. I’ve been there. And I want to help. Welcome to R.A.W. 2011 — Risk Awareness Week 2011.

The fact is that we live in a world filled with attractive, intriguing and good people longing for love.

The problem? Most of these people aren’t taking the risks needed to find love.

R.A.W. is a call to action, encouraging all single people who want love to take the risk to find it.

Give the world permission to want you. And give the world permission to not want you (that’s the hard part).

Know that you’re worth loving and make yourself available.

Talk to people who catch your eye. Ask out a Facebook friend. Get fixed up. Post an online-dating profile. Just do something. Just say something.

If taking the risk is too hard, take a good look in the mirror and figure out why it’s so scary.

Commit to changing the things you don’t love and work to embrace the things you can’t change.

There are billions of people in the world. Take risk after risk, and you will find someone to love.

It can be as easy as logging on to a free dating service because you’re hungry for love.

R.A.W. 2011: Love is a click away

I moved to Minneapolis the summer following graduation to start my college life.

As for my love life, I moved here for a job and a guy I was seeing around graduation. Things fell through with the guy after I got here. We never spoke again.

I had an intensely crummy summer and started to spend a lot of time on OkCupid.com.

At the end of August was when I met him. His profile said he was a graduate student studying social psychology, a vegan, very politically oriented, open and friendly.

One night, I hopped on OkCupid and messaged him.

I said something to the effect of “It’s late. I’m new to Minneapolis. I’m hungry. Any cool restaurants you can recommend?”

He suggested a vegan restaurant and asked if he could meet me. It was spontaneous.

We met and had a wonderful conversation.

When it was time for him to go back to his place, he gave me a quick peck on the lips.

I was honestly taken aback. I thought, “Wait, he likes me?”

As soon as I got home, I messaged him telling him I made it home safely.

I suggested we meet up again for some Frisbee and a movie.

Six months later, we’re still playing Frisbee, watching movies and eating at vegan restaurants.

I’m very much in love. He’s an earthy vegan minimalist hippie from northern Minnesota, and I’m a Chinese girl from Kansas with a lot of baggage. We found the right amount of patience and know how to challenge for each other. — Found IT

Dear Harlan: A few weeks ago, I broke up with my long-distance boyfriend due to communication issues.

He’d contact me maybe once a week, and I felt very alone/neglected.

I didn’t really explain that to him. I just broke up with him impulsively.

It’s been a few weeks, and we’ve started talking again.

I know he still has feelings for me, and he’s actually making an effort and in communicating regularly with me.

I know the breakup was probably unexpected and damaged the trust between us. I want to try again, but I’m really not sure how to go about it, or if I should even try.

Would it be hurtful to him? Should I just wait and see if he brings it up? Or should I just bring it up myself?

I just don’t really have any guy friends, and would like a male perspective. ­— Distant

Dear Distant: He doesn’t seem to be the one with the communication problem.

Hurting someone because you’ve been hurt just makes two people hurt.

And that’s how I’d start this conversation with him, apologizing for breaking up with him so abruptly.

Admit that you made a mistake. Explain why you broke up and why you want to get back together.

Ask him if he can give you what you need. You might discover that he can’t give you what you want.

But until you communicate, you’ll never figure it out.

Dear Harlan: I’m in my second semester at college. I quickly made a close group of friends who I spent most of my time with the first semester.

My best friend in the group even came home with me one weekend.

After Thanksgiving break, something changed, and they stopped hanging out with me.

I asked my best friend what was up. She said she was trying to branch out more and that I should try to do the same.

I was upset, but tried to take what she said to heart. I have a few other friends, but I miss hanging out with her.

She assured me that we would still be friends — we just shouldn’t spend so much time together. But now she hardly speaks to me.

She’s also being hypocritical, because she still hangs out with that same group of friends that I used to be a part of.

Should I try to talk to her, or move on? I know you say college friends often are temporary, but for people I had such a close connection with from the start to abandon me out of nowhere is a mystery to me.

Besides, now that it’s the second semester, every one already has their own group of friends, and I don’t know where to go. — Hurt and Confused

Dear Hurt: Rejection by silence can be brutal, mean and selfish.

Before you assume the problem is you, assume the problem is that your friend is depressed, lost, confused and too messed up for a good friend like you.

If you want to try to rescue this fading friendship, approach her with compassion.

Don’t make this about you and your hurt feelings. Make it about her and your concern.

Start by telling her that you’re worried about her because she’s been so distant. Ask if she’s OK.

Then ask if you did something that accidentally upset her.

Tell her how much her friendship means to you and say you’re sad that you’ve grown apart.

If she continues to go her own way, let her go. That’s all you can do.

Harlan is the author of The Happiest Kid On Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child). Write Harlan at harlan@helpmeharlan.com or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com.

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