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Dear Christine, Confused in Clawson

  • Posted on January 7, 2019 at 8:45 am

Dear Christine,

I read your columns every week and many of them have hit home for me. I have a question of my own now. I am a straight woman and my best friend is a gay man who I have known since high school some 40+ years ago. We like to joke that we are the real life Will And Grace.  We even dated for a bit before he came out. My “Will” has always been safe when it comes to sexual relationships and he’s had quite a few. In the last year he went through quite a run of sexual encounters which he told me about more graphically than I would have needed to know!

Three months ago he informed me he is HIV positive. I’m sad and even angry at him for being careless. His behavior has changed so much recently that he has been pulling away from our friendship. I’ve called, left messages, he doesn’t return my calls. This is someone I spoke to several times a week and now he won’t speak to me. Do you have any advice as to what I should do? I’m heartbroken and miss him a lot. Thanks,

Confused in Clawson

Dear Confused,
It’s hard and confusing when other’s behaviors change in ways that you find uncomfortable.  I hear your sadness and anger at your “Will” pulling away from you after a year when he has been irresponsible sexually to the point of becoming HIV+.  First, know that an HIV+ diagnosis is not the death sentence it was 30 – 35 years ago.  There are excellent medications that can keep it in check, making it more of a chronic illness.  And unless our 45th President takes it away, the government has helped fund insurance and medications for people with HIV+/AIDS.  For those readers who prefer to reduce the risk of HIV, please use condoms, and there is a medication called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/prep/index.htmlin a daily pill.  Check with your doctor about this.

It’s a fact that Will has pulled away and there is not a lot you can do.  It only takes one  to end a friendship or romantic relationship.  You leave messages, but he doesn’t respond.  Clearly, he is going through some changes and he isn’t sharing what those are.  Maybe he believes he is protecting you?  Maybe he is protecting himself?  Maybe he can’t process these things within himself, much less with anyone else.  Try to remember that this is about him.  He is running away, emotionally and/or physically.   He is not be able to converse and hear your  emotions or judgment in your voice. Talking can move too fast, spilling out words not carefully thought out, possibly causing further damage to your friendship.

Try writing him a letter or email that he can read when he is ready, so he can read and reread alone as much as he needs and wants.  Let him know you miss him and that you are concerned for him.  If you can, let him know you aren’t judging his variety of changed behaviors.  Let him know you are there for him, to listen to and support him in this challenging time.

The bottom line here is that he has pulled away from your friendship.  He is allowed to do that.  And there may be consequences to any friendship when one person disappears.    If you used to visit each other’s homes on a regular basis, maybe stop by, and leave a card if he doesn’t answer the door.  Don’t hound him as he seems to need more space, more time.

Keep him in your thoughts, send him love and light, and remember the good times you shared.  When he is able, he may return.  And if he returns, remember that he already is a very changed person.  Meanwhile, take care of you and lean on other friends.

Take care,
Christine Cantrell, PhD,

Licensed Psychologist

Dear Christine, Nevous in Novi

  • Posted on December 17, 2018 at 10:45 am

Dear Christine, Not sure what to do here. I have a good friend who has been driving drunk. She has come to my house barely able to walk yet she drove and has also shown up places where I knew she was too drunk to drive. After she shows up, we make sure she gets a ride or is sober before we let her go but how can we stop her when we are not there? I have told her the next time I catch her driving drunk, I am going to call the police and turn her in. I’m afraid she’s going to kill someone. I have no idea how many other times she’s driving drunk either. My knowledge of this makes me feel like I need to do something. What? Thanks! Dear Nervous, I checked two resources to answer this question: The Berkley Police Department, Deputy Chief Bob Narth and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) contact, Elvira Anderson. The police give the short answer that if you know or suspect someone is driving drunk, call the town police office where the person is driving and ask for the shift officer and give a description of the vehicle and…

Dear Christine, Heart Broken in Holly

  • Posted on November 25, 2018 at 11:59 am

Dear Christine, I love her, but she assures me it’s over. She calls sometimes and makes plans with me and then cancels on short notice. I always get my hopes up and then I feel like shit when she does this. What should I do? What should I say to her? I do want to be friends with her but she makes that so hard, because everything has to be when she’s got time for me and then she cancels anyway. Heart Broken in Holly Dear Heart Broken, Oprah Winfrey once said “when people tell you who they are, listen to them.” If your ex still calls and makes plans and cancels abruptly, but insists it’s over, then believe the “it’s over” part of that. Words are easy, actions tell the truth. I hear that you are hurting and miss her, and that you feel like you are occasionally fit into her busy life, and hope keeps rising up, only to be dashed again. I imagine it’s not the description of the relationship you had with her, or that you would want with anyone. You can only make a choice for yourself here. Choose for it to be over. You…

Dear Christine, Any Ideas in Ann Arbor?

  • Posted on October 30, 2018 at 10:13 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, Ranting in Romulus

  • Posted on October 14, 2018 at 8:14 pm

Dear Christine I don’t know everybody’s talking about how divided the country is and I know we are all Americans and we should all we care about each other however my wife and I we are both very liberal Democrats we both hate Donald Trump but her parents are very right wing Republicans they love tromp they want to argue with us when we go over there and I don’t wanna go over there and it’s made my wife very upset with me and she says just put it aside for the day let’s try not to engage with them but I have purged my Facebook of all my Republican friends who spoke out and I didn’t used to hate Republicans but now I feel like I just don’t want anything to do with anyone who is a Republican How can I set my feelings aside It feels almost impossible signed ranting in Romulus Dear Ranting, I hear you loud and clear.  Your Republican Trump-loving in-laws arguing about politics when you visit feels like you’re getting “tromped.”  That is a situation that plays out in many families these days, and brace yourselves, readers, as the holidays are coming up sooner…

Dear Christine, Long Lost Love in Lathrup Village

  • Posted on October 7, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Dear Christine, I am 60 years old when I was in high school I can say the woman I dated and with the love of my life her parents caught us she was upset she was scared she married a man and left me and she went through three different husbands. Last month she contacted me on Facebook I don’t even know where she had been living. She called me; we met; she said she’s never gotten over me. Well the truth is I never got over her. Most of my friends knew about her I told him about the one love of my life from high school. But for Gods sake that’s high school, right?. But the truth is, when I saw her it felt like no time had passed at all even though it’s been so many years…all the love all the passion was still there I feel like we wasted so much time.  The only thing is both of us got married to men for a while.  We have children we have grandchildren.  But maybe now is our time. The problem is for the last 10 years I lived with a woman that I’ve basically settled for.…

Dear Christine, What if in Westland

  • Posted on September 24, 2018 at 10:20 am

Dear Christine, i’ve been bi for 6 years… but have always been too nervous to date a girl (or maybe just trying to hide) i’m right now dating a boy. i’ve been with him for a year and a half and for a while we were inseparable, planning to marry and be together forever. the works. but about 2 months ago he dumped me out of the blue. i went crazy and after about a month convinced him to give it another try. but he doesn’t love me anymore. things are very weird and definitely not the same. as this goes on, i’m losing interest. i’ve been thinking about finally coming out to the public and giving up on hiding or whatever it is i’ve been doing. here’s my big problem. i’m madly in crush with this girl i know who i met last year right in the midst of the good part of my relationship with my bf. i thought she was super gorgeous then, but now it’s consuming my every thought. i think about her constantly and it’s driving me crazy not knowing what to do. i kind of want to break up with my boy and pursue…

Dear Christine, Alone in my Own Universe

  • Posted on September 17, 2018 at 9:05 am

Dear Christine: I am a Transgendered Boy. Most of the time I feel very alone and depressed. What’s worse is that every other minute or so I seem to be changing my mind, whether I’m feeling male or female. My brain is buzzing from the constant conflict within me. Please Help me. Signed, Alone in my own Universe Dear Alone, First things first: Before you can start working on being transgendered you need to be screened for any underlying causes. That means getting a physical and mental evaluation. Get screened for depression and possibly Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). These diagnoses are quite common in transgendered folks. You might need proper medication to help you stop the buzzing in your brain. After being treated, your brain works again to help you make clear decisions to resolve your transgendered dilemma. Next, see a gender counselor. Find someone you trust to talk about all your feelings and needs. Remember you are NOT alone. Also check out Transgendered Forums and chat rooms to find someone you can talk to. Avoid talking with bitter people who are negative or discouraging. There are plenty of warm hearted people to chat with. Listen as much at least…

Dear Christine, Curious in Canton

  • Posted on September 4, 2018 at 10:23 am

Dear Christine, I have enjoyed reading you articles but I feel a little out of place sending you a letter. It’s not the kind of thing I ever thought I would do but here goes. I have been in a good relationship for many years and I love my partner. I can’t think of anyone else I would rather be with, however lately I have been feeling very attracted to other men. In the past when another man flirted with me I would have never considered cheating. Lately, I’m not so sure. I don’t know why this is happening but the temptation is very strong. There is not one particular person I have in mind, I just want to go out and be with someone else. Boredom, mid-life crisis? Should I tell my partner I am having these feelings? I guess I’m just curious why I’m feeling this way when I never have before. Let me know what you think, Curious in Canton Hi Curious, I’m just wondering what your relationship has been like the past few years. Do you and your partner spend quality time with each other, focusing on each other without other distractions? Do you make time…

Dear Christine, Choices in Clinton Twp.

  • Posted on July 30, 2018 at 9:11 am

Dear Christine, I am having trouble making a decision. I moved to Michigan 3 years ago and have since met a wonderful woman who I have been living with for the last year. I have been missing, my home, family and friends back in New York though and now I have an opportunity to move back as I have been offered an amazing job opportunity. I want my girlfriend to come with me and she is saying no. She is retired, has no kids, no siblings and no parents in Michigan, only a few close friends. In New York, I have two sisters, and my two grown sons and a granddaughter who is a newborn. My choice is clearly to take the job and move back home, however, “J” is begging me to stay. We’ve talked about a long distance relationship and I’ll be making enough money to visit often but I’m so angry that she won’t move with me that I’m wondering if in the end, I should just break it off and move. I do absolutely love her but this opportunity is too good to pass up. I wish she would look at it as an adventure and…