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Dear Christine, Damaged Goods Downriver

  • Posted on July 15, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Dear Christine, I am a 28-year-old gay man. I came out when I was 18 and since then I’ve enjoyed a healthy, active dating life. I’ve always been comfortable with my sexuality. Three months ago, however, I tested HIV-positive and since then feel like I have to come out all over again. I haven’t been able to start dating yet because I’m afraid of how people will react when I tell them about my situation. And I don’t know what the rules are. What do I tell people? When do I tell people? And, if safe sex really is safe, do I have to tell them at all? And mostly I’m afraid (although I know it sounds crazy) that no one’s ever going to love me again. Damaged Goods Downriver Dear Damaged Goods: I hear you, coming out all over again, now as HIV + being just as confused and uncertain how to tell others as you were to tell people you were gay 10 years ago. Trust your instincts with people, and tell those who feels safe to you. There may be some rejection from some people, but if they were people you wanted to date or be friends…

Dear Christine, A Reader in Rochester

  • Posted on July 9, 2018 at 10:12 am

Hi Dr. Christine, My partner and I have been together 19 years and overall we’re both happy together. Lately, though, I noticed she is asking me to pay the utility bills she always pays, saying she has no money. I pay a set, agreed upon amount for rent and living expenses, and we both do the chores and shopping. She does the upkeep and maintenance on the house, which is in her name only. She was burned in a prior relationship and she has always said she will not ever consider adding me to the deed. I’m confused because she has a good job and makes more money than I do, and I don’t know why she wouldn’t have money for the bills she’s used to paying regularly. I don’t think she’s gambling or using drugs, but I can’t figure out what is going on. Any suggestions? A Reader in Rochester. Dear Reader: You raise several important issues. We gays and lesbians do not have access to the legal rights that married people get through their wedding license, such as joint home ownership or rights of survivorship to a house, should the owning partner die. We also cannot get half…

Dear Christine, Snooping in Southfield

  • Posted on July 2, 2018 at 10:27 am

Dear Christine,  I think my girlfriend is cheating on me. We have been together for 4 months, and everything is going well. But sometimes when I’m on her computer, girls message her about the great time that they had the night before, when it was supposed to be our apart night. I can’t help but see the messages because they pop right on the screen. The other day, I was sending an e-mail from her computer, and I accidentally stumbled on a hot and steamy e-mail from another girl, and I recognized her e-mail from the messages. I want to confront her but I’m afraid that she will think that I am snooping, and/or that I am over reacting. What do you think? Should I call her on it? How can I without her thinking I’m a snoop? Am I a Snoop? Dear Snooping in Southfield, This is all about boundaries. Has your girlfriend given you permission to go on her computer, and is she aware that when you or anyone does, these messages from other people pop up? If she has given her permission and is aware, then you are not a snoop and you have a legitimate right…

Dear Christine,Too Trusting in Trenton

  • Posted on June 25, 2018 at 9:32 am

Dear Christine, I think once again I’ve gotten myself into a bad situation. I seem to have the worst instincts when it comes to trusting people. My first two girlfriends both cheated on me after a couple years together and my 3rd serious partner decided she was straight after 5 years. The latest romance went too fast, I know. I really fell for her and moved her into my house after only 6 months. I just found out she was stealing from me. At first jewelry was missing, then I noticed the cash in my wallet seemed less than I remembered, but the biggest blow came when I realized she used my credit card to make purchases. She has denied it all but I’ve given her the boot, Is it me, or just bad luck? Signed, Too Trusting in Trenton   Dear Too Trusting, Well, you can believe in bad luck, but you can’t do anything about that.  The common denominator here, as you stated, is that you trust people in a serious, committed relationship, living together an all, and then get betrayed.  Each of your ex’s may have a problem, but you can’t do anything about them.  You can…

Dear Christine, ZJ in Jackson

  • Posted on June 19, 2018 at 10:17 am

Hello Dr. Cantrell, I have a question that I am sure will lead to the answer that therapy is a great idea. For three years, we (my partner and I) have discussed this over and over again. Her lack of action is leading me to asking you about this. My partner and I have been together for 8.5 years and we love each other. I can count the number of times we have been intimate on one hand and there are no health reasons for it. I have given up the hope that we will be intimate after discussing a number of alternatives or go to therapy. I am very sad as she emphatically denies there being any reason for her lack of interest in intimacy. Being celibate just makes her happy. It drives me nuts, but she is content. I don’t want to be with anyone else and she says being intimate with others makes her very unhappy. It is not that this is a relationship breaker. I refuse to leave her over something that seems so adolescent but it won’t stop bugging me. I just feel more like a close room mate than anything else and we should…

Dear Christine, Jeff in Jackson

  • Posted on June 11, 2018 at 9:03 am

Dear Christine, I have been hanging out with this guy for about 6 weeks.  We get together about twice a week for dinner and movie at home or sometime a date out or an event.  We really enjoy each other and I love the cozy intimate evenings at home just watching TV and cuddling on the sofa.  We started out agreeing that it would be casual as neither of us felt we were in the right place to start something serious.  So, besides the 2 times a week we hang out together there is little if any communication.  I have no idea how he is feeling and I am afraid to let him know that I am starting to feel a lot.  It’s just so easy when we’re together at home and sexually, it is the best ever.  I don’t think I have ever felt this strong about anyone.  It feels like we are really a couple, but the time between visits, it feels like he’s a million miles away.  I don’t want it to end but at some point I want to tell him my feelings.  Should I wait and enjoy this and maybe give him time to start…

Dear Christine, Feelings in Franklin

  • Posted on June 4, 2018 at 9:54 am

Dear Christine, My question is this: My partner of 12 years has decided she has feelings for another woman, who has been straight all her life & has 3 children & is currently married. My partner has been helping her with all her issues & has become emotionally attached to this woman & is questioning her feelings for me? What do I do? Look forward to your reply. Thx, Feelings in Franklin   Dear Feelings in Franklin, So, my question to you is, what’s missing in your 12 year relationship? For you? For your partner? I’m guessing you used to be close and intimate, and it was satisfying, but over the years, you’ve somehow grown apart emotionally. Now, your partner has been getting her emotional needs met by helping a friend, which are fueling her questioning of your relationship with her. She’s perceiving her friend as her emotional significant other, not you. What is she not getting in her relationship with you? What is it that she needs? What are your needs? Are they being communicated? Are they ever met? If you can’t answer these questions, then I’d start there, with yourself, and then moving on to her needs. Explore…

Dear Christine, My ex’s best friend.

  • Posted on May 29, 2018 at 11:08 am

Dear Christine, My ex’s best friend. Recently I have been having dreams of my former partner’s best friend. I am attracted to her….very much so, and if I am correct, she is attracted to me too. Here is the thing, I would like to see her whether it be for a short period of time or longer. How do I go about calling her up out of the blue and say hey! Want to go out some time? Should I go for it, despite the fact that she is my ex’s best friend? Ex’s Best Friend in Farmington Dear ex’s best friend in Farmington, Here’s an interesting situation! To answer your question, it all depends!   There’s no reason NOT to call her and ask her up, as your former partner, is just that, former. You are allowed to call anyone you want. Some thought questions: Are you still friends with your ex? Would she be upset, not care or be supportive if she found out you were dating her best friend? Would she need to hear it from you, rather than in gossip from others? Would the best friend be OK with dating her best friend’s ex? Are they close…

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

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

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…