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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, De-Gay in De-Troit

  • Posted on September 18, 2017 at 8:54 am

Dear Christine, My boyfriend and I have a 2 bedroom apartment, and we’ve been together for over a year, and I’m so tired of having to “de-gay” our home before his mom comes over. I have to take down all our pictures, all our rainbow symbols and make the second bedroom look like I sleep in it, which I don’t. He’s really close to her, but doesn’t think she knows he’s gay and doesn’t know we’re together. She’s really into the church, and he’s scared she won’t speak to him again, if he tells her that we’re a couple and he’s gay. I don’t think that’s true. She visits him all the time here. It’s really getting on my nerves and I don’t think I can take this double life anymore. I’ve been out for a couple of years and it’s really hard to go back in the closet for my boyfriend’s mom.

Dear De-Gay,  I hear your frustration! It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t “out” full time. All I can ask of you is patience, and to keep talking with your boyfriend. He needs to make this decision to out himself to his mother in his time, not in yours. Talk together about how you each feel, what you each fear. Examine your own heart, and make sure that you are not violating a non-negotiable in your life. Must you be in a relationship with someone who is out to their family and friends, or can you find a middle way, as he figures out who he is and tells important others in his life? If it’s a non-negotiable, communicate that, as he needs to know what you need. He may not be able to meet your need, but at least he would know where you stand. Remember back to your coming out, or friends who struggled with rejection from family, and know that this is a process. Even if you believe his mom knows he’s gay, you aren’t going to convince him. It’s really important to listen, with love and acceptance of where he is. The only way change happens is when we stop trying to change, and instead just accept that this is how things are. In my experience, once I quit trying to change myself (or someone else) and let it be, that’s when things shift. So hard and so easy all at once. Christine C. Cantrell, PhD

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, Explaining in Ecorse

  • Posted on July 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

Dear Christine, My partner and I are a lesbian couple and very active in the LGBT community. Recently I’ve been questioning my gender identity and I’m thinking seriously of transitioning from female to male gender. I’m not sure how to explain my gender changes. I was always more of the tomboy type. I’m coming to realize that I don’t have a gender identity crisis, but I identify as gender queer, and being explicitly male or female is not really the issue for me. Explaining homosexuality to our children was a challenge. They are 6 and 10 years old and they are fine with having two moms. The whole family is very accepting of our being a lesbian couple. Our parents are confused about why I want to change, when I so confidently identified as lesbian. How should I go about explaining transgender issues to our kids, and our parents and families? I find that gender clarity is very important to my family and society in general, but it isn’t so important to me.  Explaining in Ecorse Dear Explaining, My question is: is it necessary to undergo gender transition if identifying as male or female is not a big deal for…

Dear Christine, Single and Alone

  • Posted on March 6, 2017 at 11:21 am

Dear Christine, I am 35 and I have had 5 girlfriends since the age of 20 that each lasted between 2 and 5 years. I fall in love easy and seem to fall out of love instantly. I’m never sure when it’s going to happen or how long it will take but now that it has happened 5 times, I’m beginning to wonder why. Sometimes, they just start to get on my nerves after a period of time, other times, I’ve gone to bed in love, and woke up unable to find the feelings no matter how hard I try. I’ve walked away from some wonderful people (except for maybe 2 of them) and don’t know why. I’ve tried to prolong the breakup by faking it for a while hoping the feelings would come back but that’s really hard to do. I’m considering staying single. Is this common? Why can’t I stay in love? Thanks, Single and Alone in St Clair Shores PS I know the highs of initial love diminish, but this is something more than that. Dear Single and Alone, I wonder what sort of partners you have chosen in your dating life the last 15 years? Are…

Dear Christine, Fat & Frustrated in Farmington

  • Posted on January 30, 2017 at 9:49 am

Dear Christine, It’s a new year and each year I make the same resolution to lose weight. I am probably more than 75 pounds overweight and each year it goes up a couple pounds. My partner who is also overweight goes along with the plan for about a month and then gives in and gives up and starts bringing all the bad foods into the house again. It’s really hard for me when cookies and candy are in the house. I’ve given up trying to get her on board but do you have any suggestions for me that could motivate me to stay on track and stay motivated? Thanks I’ll call myself  – Fat and Frustrated in Farmington! Dear F&F, Motivation is tough! You need to know you and what makes you tick to understand how to stay on track. I had a boss years ago who knew diabetes ran in his family, so every time there were donuts at our staff meeting, he would say aloud: “do I want to eat that donut now, or do I want to see it in 20 years?” That was enough to keep him from eating one. Clearly, it is easier to avoid…