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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?


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


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

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 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

Dear Christine, Befuddled in Brownstown

  • Posted on February 19, 2018 at 10:08 am

Dear Christine

Hello! Is there such a thing as having an androgynous personality? Explain please 🙂 Thank yoooouu! Befuddled in Brownstown

Dear Befuddled,

Yes, there are androgynous people. I know a few people who are androgynous and like passing as both genders or neither. If you look at one of these people, you might not be sure what pronoun to use, she or he, and the person may not help you out on that, as they might like the fact that they don’t fit into any prescribed slot. Sexuality is simpler than a dual system of gay and straight, just as gender is more than male or female. We have brains as well as bodies, and sometimes the experience of the mind is different from the body, and vice versa. Sometimes the bodies are difficult to identify, as an intersex person may have genitalia of both genders. There are seven basic gender identities: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, intersexual, asexual, and pansexual, then there is a sexual orientation for each one.

Sometimes people are chimeras, meaning they have more than one genetic code, such as when 2 fraternal twin fetuses combine in the uterus and become one body, but having 2 unique DNA codes, depending on which body part is being checked. There have been women who were genetically unrelated to their children as current cheek swab DNA testing can show. However, other organs or parts of her body do match up with her children, but might not have been checked initially. Also, any woman who has been pregnant has probably absorbed some genetic material from her baby, and if that’s a boy, then she probably has some Y chromosomes present in her body that most women would not have. Remember, female is having XX chromosomes and male is XY. Sometimes there are XXY people as well, which is Klinefelter Syndrome. Our genes and our environment determine our phenotype (physical characteristics) which can vary in different environments. Two identical twins raised in different families may mature differently, for example. All of this is just to explore how we really are unique beings. However you look, whatever you feel, whomever you are attracted to, or not, is really ok. And it can change. And that’s fine. Christine Cantrell

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

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Perplexed in Pittsfield

  • Posted on February 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

Dear Christine

Could someone be completely gay from 13 to 18? so I mean always liking the same sex and not liking the other sex, and only getting turned on by the same sex, and have done things like anal and liked it… then at 19 onwards turn straight and not like the same sex and just get turned on by the opposite sex? can that happen because of hormones? so is there such a thing called the gay phase between. 13 to 18?

Perplexed in Pittsfield

Dear Perplexed,

The really interesting thing with human beings is that there is no “normal” nor only “one way” that someone can and should be. We are each unique beings, and we experience our sexuality differently, and that means there’s no one mode of self–expression is “right” or “wrong.” What someone else may do might not seem interesting or remotely possible for you, and that’s ok too. There are people who experiment with their sexual attractions in ways you may never choose to. A friend of mine was a radical feminist lesbian in the 70s and 80s. She used to organize Take Back the Night walks in the community we lived in back then. In the 90s she met a man and fell in love with him. They married and had 2 children and they are still together. Go figure! Some people go both ways, others only go one way at a time, and some find their own way to be. So, remember, just because a friend does something, don’t assume that’s how it is for you or for anyone else. That’s how that person is. You may feel one way today, and in a decade you may feel totally different. Or not.

Life is a journey of self–exploration. As much as I thought I knew myself in my early 20s, my early 30s taught me that I had pushed away a lot of parts of myself that I hadn’t been ready to confront, and for me, one of those things was my sexuality. I dated only men in my teens and 20s, but in my early 30s, I was falling in love with women and wondering how this could be. It took a few more years of looking inward, noticing my feelings and my patterns, some of which I had ignored for years because they weren’t acceptable in my family and in my church. Could all this change again? I guess it could, because at 40, I was amazed at how much the same I was as at 20, and yet how entirely different too! I am guessing 80 holds surprises for my self–awareness and identity as well. I’m content to live my life until then, exploring whatever comes up, not judging it, but just looking at and allowing it to be. Let it be. Christine Cantrell

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

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Tense in Trenton

  • Posted on February 4, 2018 at 11:54 am

Dear Christine, My partner and I are expecting our first child, a boy, due in May. We are both very excited but we are getting a little family grief. Both families have supported our lifestyle until now. Suddenly it seems like everyone is concerned about the future of our child. It seems that no one thought we were going to have children and now that we are, we are getting some negative comments. A little too late now! The family seems excited for the new baby but at the same time has told us that it might not be fair for a child, especially a boy, to be raised by lesbians! My partner is furious at our families and is ready to cut them off. I don’t know why they had to make the comments in the first place since like I said, too late! What can I do to keep the peace, calm down my partner and assure everyone that this baby will be a happy healthy child. Including me! Can we do this? I love this baby already and BTW, I’m the one carrying this time. You’re next honey! Signed Tense in Trenton Hi Tense, Hell no, I’m…

Dear Christine, Loving in Livonia

  • Posted on January 8, 2018 at 10:09 am

Dear Christine, I’m a gay man seeing a male therapist for issues I had after a bad breakup. Basically severe depression. After several months of therapy, I’m feeling pretty whole again but I don’t want to stop therapy because I have fallen in love with my therapist. My therapist is also gay and has never given me any reason to think he feels the same way, however, I guess I hope that he does. I’ve also never told him how I feel for fear he will ask me to stop seeing him. Question: should I tell him? I so look forward to my Wednesdays with… Signed, Loving in Livonia Dear Loving, I encourage you to talk to your therapist about this transference. You are in a relationship as a client with a therapist and there are legal and ethical boundaries that need to be in place to protect both of you. Your therapist will probably want to discuss your emotions, needs and expectations. And he will want to be clear about the professional boundaries of the therapeutic relationship you both have. It is not unusual for a client to have strong feelings of affection or love for a therapist, as…

Dear Christine, Angry in Ann Arbor

  • Posted on December 24, 2017 at 9:22 am

Dear Christine

About two months ago my partner went to First Wednesday (at Rosie O’Donnell Bar) with some friends. I couldn’t go because I had to work late. Anyhow, the group met a new young woman who is just coming out as a lesbian. After getting to know this person, the friends and I are seeing something just a bit off about her. My partner, however, has taken quite a shine to her. I think it’s a crush even though this person is 18 years younger than her. I’ve told my partner that I am not happy about it and she says I’m wrong about the crush and she just sees someone who needs her help. There has been quite a bit of communication between them and I’m angry. Do I sit quietly and let this play out? Do I have a choice? We’ve had some heated arguments about this with no resolution. Just when things seemed so great!

Thanks, Angry in Ann Arbor

Dear Angry, Many couples I work with never really have a complete conversation about what the boundaries are in their relationship. They might agree if one of them “cheated” that the relationship would be over. But rarely is “cheated” defined clearly. They might also agree if one “hits” the other, it’s over. But what level of abuse is intolerable?

Women have close emotional relationships with friends and that can lead to “emotional cheating” which may not involve any physical or sexual contact, but can lead to a sense of violation for the partner (you). In this day of social media, people can have long distance affairs through text, FB, DM, Snapchat, etc, etc and never be in the same state! And long term relationships have suffered and even ended from such “emotional cheating.”

Your partner may be in denial about her crush and has reframed the interaction as helping her friend. You can’t “make” her see the emotional violation. You can keep flagging it and discussing boundaries and what consequences follow. You may not have included this sort of behavior as being a violation of your couple’s boundaries, but you can now. And then you need to let her know this is your new non–negotiable. And tell her the consequence of crossing a non–negotiable. And let her decide whether or not she agrees. Worst comes to worst, you may end up ending your relationship over this, if you two cannot see eye–to–eye about what is a boundary and what is a violation. I worked with a couple of lesbians together 20 years, who always agreed that if either one was going to cheat, they would respect the other enough to call and tell that one “I’m not coming home tonight.” One saw her partner fall in love with a younger woman at work over 3 months time. She tried to talk to her partner about it and was rebuffed. Then that call came one evening. The partner left at home was done and made it clear that their relationship was over. After a month, the other partner came to her senses and asked to get into therapy to repair their 20 year relationship. They came to a couple of sessions, but the one used therapy to be clear with the other that a non–negotiable was violated and their relationship was over. They sold their house and went their separate ways.

Another couple would stay in therapy and try to figure out where their relationship went south and mend the issues that allowed for one to become emotionally involved with someone outside the relationship. So, you need to do what is in integrity to you. Suggest neutral support, like a therapist, to help you two communicate with each other through this. Schedule time together as a couple in which you can talk seriously, but also time to have fun, too.

Christine C Cantrell, PhD
Licensed Psychologist

Dear Christine, Sworn to Secrecy in St. Clair Shores

  • Posted on December 18, 2017 at 7:08 am

Dear Christine,  A gay male friend of mine told me in confidence that he was sexually assaulted by an older gay man who is a fairly well known member of the community. He made me swear never to tell anyone. I know as a woman, that feeling of sweeping it under the rug all too well, however, I’m older and less easily intimidated today. I guess I should keep his promise but what do I say to someone who shares that kind of story with me? And what is my responsibility, if any, do I have to report the abuse? With stories like this hitting the airwaves lately, I just don’t know what to do. Thanks, Sworn to Secrecy in St. Clair Shores Dear Sworn, I have been hearing versions of this question from my clients that past 6 weeks. Our society has ignored victims and survivors of sexual abuse and harassment too long! And not all of the survivors are women, as your gay male friend proves. I believe truth needs to come out, but being a survivor of sexual abuse, myself, I also respect the survivor’s process in coming to grips with the abuse. Telling anyone (you) is…

Dear Christine, Cinderella in Clinton Township

  • Posted on November 12, 2017 at 10:40 am

Dear Christine, Sometimes I feel like Cinderella in my family. I went to college, have always been ambitious, have always been responsible. I got a great job after college working at a successful law firm, I saved enough money to buy my first house. On the other hand, my brother has accomplished nothing yet has the heart of my parents. He’s way too attractive for his own good and my parents have done nothing but coddle and support him. At a family dinner last week, my parents suggested I take on Billy when they are gone! I was too shocked to say, “oh hell no,” which Is what I was shouting in my head. I’ve always been obedient and good and never heard a word of praise from them, yet they lavish it on my lazy, live in the basement of their home brother. He’s 35 by the way. How can I stand up to them and let them know I don’t want to pick up where they left off? They are getting older and having health problems. I don’t want to be my brother’s keeper! Thanks for your thoughts, Signed Dear Cinderella, This is not a news flash for…