Dear Christine, Mom in Metamora

  • Posted on May 6, 2018 at 8:16 am

Dear Christine,

My group of friends is really close. We travel together, go for monthly dinners, do house parties and so much more. We are made up of 4 long time couples and 3 single guys. We are all in pretty similar financial situations except one of us. Over the years, the group has been very generous picking up tabs and making sure he isn’t left out of the fun. For the past couple years though, suddenly our friend is posting things on social media suggesting he has money to blow. He has posted photos of new high end appliances and new furniture for his condo. He has also posted photos from a singles cruise he just took. Yet when it comes time to doing things with the group, he still cries poor. So of course, we’ve all noticed and are talking behind his back about whether we should confront him about all the spending.

Confused in Clawson

 

Dear Confused,
I’m glad you have a good group of friends.  Now you get to show each other how honest you can be.  A couple of thoughts come to mind.  One is where you or whoever is closest to your friend who is new to money, have a face-to-face conversation (NOT text, NOT email or any social media!).  Preface your question by stating that you and the rest of the group are feeling confused, and that to keep the friendships healthy, you all need to be equals with each other.  That’s why each of you paying your own way is important to the group  If one person is favored, there needs to be a real need, or else if appears to be that person using everyone else to pay for his socializing.  That isn’t fair. Talk about how he seems to be spending hard earned money on optional purchases.  If he went out for a fancy dinner or to the theater once, that might not trigger the feeling of the group being used, but going on a cruise is a much bigger expense.  And it’s not up there with food, rent, clothing, car, gas, insurance…  It’s not a necessity.  Explain that you all want him in the group, but you want him to pay his fair share.  It might be easier to do this one-on-one, so he doesn’t feel as pressured as being attacked by the whole group, and it might be easier for him to admit that he has some extra cash that he could choose to spend while going out with the group.  Reassure him that you still want him in the group.

If that doesn’t seem a way for you to be able to go, you could write him an email or a letter.  Something he can read alone, think about, digest and then get back to you.  Let him know the group has been discussing his financial situation behind his back, which won’t feel good.  Let him know that no one wants to be questioning his judgment, but you all want to feel equal and fair in the group.  Ask him to think about it and write an answer back.  Writing could be helpful if you and/or he don’t think on your feet so well.  Having time to read and reread what you write, making sure it comes out clear and clean is important.  When we start talking, sometimes emotions take over and it becomes heated or when the friend feels attacked, he attacks back and the whole thing escalates.  That isn’t going to help.

A 3rd option is to have the group stage an “intervention” where you all meet in a neutral location and you all impress upon him how much you care about him being an equal part of the group and you want to restore that equality if he has come into extra funds.  And you aren’t willing to chip in for his share if he is able to take cruises.

Or, you could simply keep talking behind his back and hope he starts to notice and gets uncomfortable enough to be shamed into paying his share without being confronted.

It’s all your choice.  Anytime you confront someone, there is a risk.  He might misinterpret what you are saying, your tone you are saying it in, that you are speaking to him alone, or that you chose to write him rather than talk to him face-to-face, or that the group is attacking him in an intervention.  If he is defensive, he will probably default to one of these victim stances.  You can’t be responsible for his reaction or response.  You are responsible for your own actions and words, or inactions.  He will react however he reacts.  Don’t rescue him, don’t punish him, don’t box him in, but give him the option of a dialogue of acceptance and equality.
Good luck!
Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Dear Christine, Mom in Metamora

  • Posted on April 30, 2018 at 7:01 am

Dear Christine, I am a straight married woman seeking answers concerning my 13 year old son. My husband and I have suspected he might be gay for a few years. In fact, I know he is because of a note I found in his pocket to a boyfriend. I didn’t share this with my husband. We haven’t approached him about any of it and I am dreading that he may come out to us soon! You see, my husband has threated to reject him, find him a medical “cure” or give him an ultimatum, “Be straight, or get out” While doing some research online, I came across your column, I am furious with my husband’s beliefs and I am quite certain I would divorce him if he ever treated our son this way. So far, I feel I’m in a holding pattern waiting for the shoe to drop. What can I do now to prepare for what I’m sure will be a crisis in my house? Sincerely, Mom in Metamora Dear Mom, Your letter is heartbreaking.  You and your family are feeling torn apart, almost, waiting for your son to announce his orientation.  Being proactive is a good start for…

Dear Christine, Needing Privacy in Novi

  • Posted on April 21, 2018 at 10:52 am

Dear Dr. Christine, I live in a house with both of my parents. Lately, they are driving me insane. I have no privacy whatsoever. They go through my phone, and they involve themselves too much in my life. I’m growing up! How do I get them to back off? I was wondering if you could answer these questions: 1.) Why do many teenagers feel that their parents invade their privacy? 2.) Is there a reason that parents do this? 3.) How can this be resolved? Needing Privacy in Novi Dear Needing Privacy, Being a teen, dependent on your parents and trying out how to be an adult is a tough stage of life. Your parents, most likely, have your best interests in heart, and they were teens once, and they remember what they did. Parents are legally responsible for you, so they may invade your privacy, i.e. search your room to see if you are smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or doing drugs. Hopefully they aren’t reading your journal (does anyone journal privately anymore?). Are they tracking where you go on the Internet? Do they ask intrusive questions? Do they have unreasonable demands? The best approach with parents is to be…

Dear Christine, Worried in Waterford

  • Posted on April 14, 2018 at 10:38 am

Dear Christine, My partner of 18 years actually won’t come out of the house anymore. “Jim” worked hard, saved his money and retired about 3 years ago at age 59. We share a nice home and have amazing friends. Life is good for us but there’s one problem. “Jim” hates going anywhere! It started slowly. At first it seemed he just came out less and less always making excuses why he didn’t want to attend a party or go shopping. We had a pretty active social life that is becoming less and less active and more stay at home. If friends call to do something he often encourages me to just go ahead without him. He has a headache or wants to finish a book he is reading or any number of reasons. I have asked him if there is any problem. He says no. He doesn’t seem to be depressed and we often have friends over for dinner parties and game nights which he loves. I am beginning to wonder if there is something going on and he is becoming one of those people who can’t leave the house. My question: Is there someway for me to be able…

Dear Christine, Transitioning in Trenton

  • Posted on April 8, 2018 at 10:29 am

Dear Christine, I guess I should start off by saying that I am a transsexual. Even though I was born male and have done “boy” things, I’ve always felt like a girl on the inside, and dreamed about being a girl on the outside. However, I’m so uncertain about transitioning. I’m so afraid. Will I become an outcast? Will I ever meet someone who would want me for a companion? Its just such a big decision, and a big step. And yet, being 19, everyone I’ve talked to (both TS and non-TS) tell me that if I’m going to transition, I should do it now before it is “too late”. I guess I just need some advice about where to go from here. Everyday I get really depressed. All I can think about is transitioning. Yet I’m afraid that the reality of being a transitioned TS will be worse than what I am now. A person who is in the wrong body. Transitioning in Trenton Dear Transitioning, First of all, there’s no rush! Many people transition in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and I’ve known some to transition after they retired, as they didn’t feel safe going through it while…

Dear Christine, All My Heart in Allen Park

  • Posted on March 31, 2018 at 9:45 am

Dear Christine, I am in a 11 year lesbian relationship (33 years old) and have met another woman(34 years old) ONLINE who is in a 15 year lesbian relationship. We have been carrying on an affair for a year via ONLINE and phone calls everyday, but have never met. Both of us are totally in love and are planning to met within the next 3 months. We have even planned on leaving our current wives (obviously something is missing from both our relationships) once we meet and make sure we are physically compatible. We have never met but LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH. Am I crazy for even thinking of leaving my girlfriend of 11 years for a woman I’ve never met? I love her heart, mind and soul……All my Heart in Allen Park Dear All my Heart,  I think this is another question that the writer wrote knowing in her heart what the answer for her is. You have thoughts that you might be crazy for thinking of leaving your girlfriend of 11 years for someone you never met? Does your girlfriend of 11 years know this? Is she aware that something is “missing” from your relationship? Have you…

Dear Christine, Finding a Donor in Dearborn

  • Posted on March 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

Dear Christine, Hi there, My partner and I have been together 8 years–our anniversary is this week– Yeah!!! Celebration time!!! We’re ready to start our family, and decided to go the “known donor” route so the child would be able to have some awareness of who their biological father is… Here’s the problem: none of the men we’ve approached (and don’t misunderstand, they’ve all been pretty together, gay positive men) have been able to “handle the idea”. They say things like “How could I handle having a child, but not really being a father”, or “I would feel too responsible to the child”. Geez, where are all the totally irresponsible men I dated before I figured out who I really am? They were only too happy to let ME worry about contraception back then. Why have the rules changed now? Talk about irony. We spend half our fertile lives before we’re mature enough to know who we are and what we want trying NOT to get pregnant and the other half trying desperately trying to. Sometimes, life sucks! Finding a Donor in Dearborn Dear Finding a Donor, Congratulations on your readiness to start a family! Yeah, the timing isn’t so…

Dear Christine, Polite in Pontiac

  • Posted on March 18, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Dear Christine, I sit on the board of a well known LGBT organization in Metro Detroit and on two or three occasions I have shared an idea I had with a fellow board member only to have that board member, a supposedly good friend of mine, bring that idea to the board, taking full credit for the idea. He has also done that in personal situations; sharing my thoughts and ideas as if he never heard them from me first.  In these situations, I have pretty much been polite and kept my mouth shut, although the last time I shot him a pretty serious WTF look. I have shared other people’s ideas but always give them the credit, and then ask them to share the idea. Am I too polite? It’s been several times now and my patience is wearing thin. Signed Polite in Pontiac Dear Polite, You are too polite!  Group dynamics on an organizational board are similar to the dynamics of our family of origin.  So, perhaps you were polite at home, and that was respected and your family gave you credit for your own ideas without you having to fight to be heard.  Or perhaps you had…

Dear Christine, Ready in Redford

  • Posted on March 11, 2018 at 7:13 am

Dear Christine,

I’ve come across your columns on line and enjoy them. While I see you mostly seem to deal with LGBT issues, I assume you work with straight couples in your practice too.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 5 years. He spends a couple nights at my house, I spend a couple nights at his, and we spend a couple on our own. We tell each other I love you all the time. He’s never mentioned marriage though. We were only 22 when we met and now at 27, I feel like I want to be married and start a family. I’ve been old school, waiting for home to ask. Any ideas on how to get him to pop the question?

Signed,

Ready in Redford

Dear Ready,
Thanks for  following my blog and taking the time to write a question.  I do work with all kinds of people and relationships, not just the LGBTQIA… population.  Your situation sounds familiar.  You’re in a long term, serious relationship and after 5 years you are ready to make a legal commitment, marriage.  But you don’t know where your boyfriend is on this topic.  I’d suggest some direct conversation about what you need and want in a relationship, as those needs and wants probably have changed over the time together.  Do you really have no idea where he stands on marriage after 5 years together?  Have you ever talked about what you want in the future, careers, kids, finances, where to live, what to live in:  apartment, condo or house?

You both were young when you met and have grown up with each other in a way.  Now you sound ready to take another step.  A healthy relationship allows you both to feel emotionally safe enough to honestly explore your thoughts and needs about the relationship.  If you just wait for him to “pop the question” you may wait forever!  If you bring it up, then you both get a chance to share your hopes and dreams, your fears and also your non-negotiables.  Non-negotiables are those things that you must have or you cannot have in a long-term, committed relationship.  Perhaps you don’t want to live with someone who smokes, or who uses drugs, or who doesn’t keep a job.  Those are important boundaries to communicate so that you both know what you each need.  If he needs to smoke, and you need him to quit, it’s probably a losing battle for you.  He needs to find it in himself to quit, and if he quits for you, you retain the credit and/or blame of his ability to quit or relapse.

Non-negotiables will cut through the chatter and help you both see if you are headed in the same direction with your life goals.  For example, some people do not want to have children at all.  If you know your boyfriend is like that, don’t think that you will change his mind or convince him to eventually have a baby with you.  My parents’ best friends had two daughters that the couple both wanted.  The wife, however, wanted a 3rd baby and knew her husband didn’t.  She tricked him into getting her pregnant and he never would have much to do with his son.  That son had a lot of issues as he grew up feeling ignored and not wanted by his father, and by high school was into drugs and the wrong crowd.

You have invested a lot in this relationship, but the only way to know if he wants to keep investing in it with you is to begin to have conversations about what you need.  If you cannot have this direct a conversation, that might tell you something about how emotionally safe you really feel with him.  If you don’t risk, you won’t ever what you really want.  Take a risk and have a heart-to-heart talk about the future.

Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Curious in Clawson

  • Posted on March 5, 2018 at 10:27 am

Dear Christine,

Are homosexuals always atheist?

Curious in Clawson

Dear Curious, Gays and lesbians are just like everyone else in the world when it comes to religion and faith. Some faiths are not welcoming to GLBTs, so some have stayed within their religion to fight for acceptance from the inside. Others have left their religion entirely and are atheist or agnostic. Still others have rallied together and formed entirely new religious groups to minister to GLBTs in a place and way in which they are spiritually, emotionally and physically safe. A good example of this is the Metropolitan Community Church denomination. It is a Christian denomination that was founded in 1968 by Troy Perry for GLBTs who were excluded from mainline Christian Churches. Check out www.mccchurch.org. Many mainline protestant churches now have GLBT groups or are GLBT friendly, and some have approved ordination of GLBT people to the ministry. The United Church of Crist, UCC, opened ordination to GLBT people in 1972, and more recently, including the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Presbyterian Church (USA). The Roman Catholics have a GLBT group called Dignity Detroit, www.dignitydetroit.orgin this area, which celebrates mass monthly. Recently, Pope Francis has made refreshing comments about how he is not to judge about someone being GLBT and Christian and he wants the Roman Catholic Church to stop focusing so much on antigay and antiabortion issues.

 

There are also welcoming congregations of Reconstructionist Judaism and Reform Judaism. Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. By the way, there is an interesting film that I saw at the DIA Friday Film series several years ago called “Trembling Before God” about Orthodox Jewish gay men and lesbians who wanted to remain Orthodox.

Just as there are all kinds of heterosexuals and not all of them are atheist and not all are believers, all people are everything. Some gays and lesbians do feel that they were driven from their religion (Christians, Mormons, Muslims) to atheism and agnosticism, there are plenty more who took their faith and created a welcoming community for GLBT within their faith. Sometimes that’s been a new faith (taking on a Spirit Guide from Native American Spirituality, or Buddhism or Paganism) and sometimes that’s reclaiming the faith of their upbringing. Thanks for writing. Christine Cantrell