My friend, 29, lives with his mother in a one-bedroom apartment, sleeping on her couch. He’s openly and comfortably gay, but his mom, who’s religious, is constantly putting him down for this and threatening doom.
His father’s no help – heroin-addicted, he recently lost his girlfriend to a fatal overdose.
My friend works at a good job, is well-liked, but very lacking in self-esteem – he’s been obese, lost weight, exercises too hard, then injures himself and gains back some weight.
He always sees himself as a “fat boy.”
I’ve told him he should move out from his mom’s place and get his own. He earns well and can afford the rent, or he could buy a fixer-upper house that his father, a carpenter when he’s working, could renovate.
I can’t seem to get through to him. What do you think?
I think you’re a very caring friend but need to know your limits. This young man’s major life issues are beyond casual advice.
I suggest that you urge him to get ongoing professional counselling to deal with his lack of confidence, and then decide major changes like where and how he wants to live.
You’re correct that staying with his disapproving mother is psychologically and emotionally harmful to him.
But connecting with his addicted father, whose own life is precarious, could be even more destructive.
His father, newly single, might want to move in with him, use his money for drugs, expose him to his dealers, etc.
Support your friend for what he’s achieved – his comfort in his sexual identity, his good job, and his determination to deal with his weight problem.
Then encourage him to get counselling to help him improve his future.
He already has the ability to make good decisions. He now needs to empower himself, through distancing from the negative circumstances around him, and appreciating his own positive qualities.
I hate clutter. My partner considers it security as in, “in case we have another child” (the excuse for keeping all our 11-year-old daughter’s baby clothes).
Our townhouse is small. But all the winter boots are still lined up on the floor. We can afford a storage space, or all three of us buying new boots when they’re needed.
She has boxes everywhere – toys going to other people’s children, books for a hospital library, old recipes (they’re all online now), tons of photos from 20 years ago (a weekend project can organize them online).
I appreciate her charitable instinct… but she won’t devote a day once a year to delivering all these “gifts” and clearing some space.
There’s more, but my point is this: Every bit as much as she loves to hold onto things, I equally feel claustrophobic and smothered by all this clutter in my living space.
Why doesn’t my discomfort matter as much as hers?
We married out of love for each other, and can still feel romantic and sexy with her (though less easily when the clutter overwhelms me).
But when things get really tense between us, I wonder, is she willing to break up a family over these boxes? Am I?
What do you advise?
There’s no compromise here; it’s Clutter vs. Comfort, “security” control vs. a neatness obsession (also control).
Obviously, there are deeper issues for both of you.
Don’t squander your relationship over “things.” Save your marriage.
Get honest with each other. Throw out or give away what’s NOT needed, immediately. The only essentials to hold onto are each other and your child.
“I’m 49 and found that it gets difficult over the years to make new friends. The best opportunities to build friendships are when you're in your 20s.
“Later, people settle down and don't always want to make new friends.
“I tried to befriend some colleagues and various people I met, and nothing worked that well.
“So nowadays, there's Meetup.com. (https://www.meetup.com/). This is a great organization, with clubs all over some cities, covering every possible interest.
“In my case, I like to exercise, so I joined various walking groups and social groups.
“One group meets three or four times a week to walk and we chat while walking. Also, there are often different people at the walks.
“It’s a good way to make friends but you have to go often enough to get to know people.”
Ellie – The different “meetup” groups offer a wide range of interests, from playing volleyball to trying new restaurants.
Tip of the day:
Urge a troubled friend to get professional therapy.