Baggage Check Live: "Death Stare of Shame"

Jul 24, 2018

Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior was online to take your comments about her advice column, Baggage Check, and any other questions you might have. These comments may appear in an upcoming column running in Express and online.

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Hi, all!

What's cookin' in your world this week? I'm so glad to have you here. Have you read today's column yet?

We've got that classic apartment problem: someone who is seeing more than they bargained for of the person across the way from their balcony.  And in Letter 2, we've got a "helpful" friend who is anything but.

What else is going on out there for you all?

Here we go!

Ummm, he is in his house. Just look away! A lot of people prefer to lounge around in undergarments.

I can definitely see this side of things.

I also know just how hard it can be to avoid something that takes up most of your window/balcony view, though....

Thanks for taking my comment last week! Yes, I invited my in-laws over many times until my husband told me to stop because, "They'll never come anyway." He was really hurt that they didn't come down when the baby was born because they had actually said they would and then called the day before to say they weren't coming. He says this is just how it is. You're absolutely right, I don't want this to drive a wedge between us. Now that we've compromised on me not making every trip, I am at peace with the fact that he is ok with making all the effort to see them. Thank you again! I love your column and advice!

Thank you! I am so glad that you have a plan for now.

Canceling on the new-grandchild visit the day before it was supposed to happen must have really, really stung. But it also showed you what you can expect from them, and released you from developing false hopes. So there's that!

Hello. I'm the bridesmaid OP who originally wrote in on March 27 about the two bridesmaids I was nervous about not getting along because one was dating the other's ex. The wedding was in early June, and I'm happy to report that there were no major incidents. That being said, I could sense a few moments of tension, like "Bonnie" always making sure there was someone sitting between her and "Tina." Everyone acted civil and mature, but I feel like it can depend on the situation and who it is for other people dealing with similar scenarios. Also, since I saw this in the chat, there was a bachelorette, but not all the bridesmaids could go. (Which probably would have been a whole lot more awkward, since it would have just been us girls.) Thanks for your advice.

You are welcome, and thank you! I love this update. Everyone acting civil and mature? Say it ain't so!

I work full time and have a young toddler. I feel like I am managing most parts of my life decently well, given all that is on my plate, and some days even really well! However, I am really struggling to make time for self-care. I had trouble with that before having a child and it's 1,000x harder now. My biggest issue is the lack of energy - if I have a few minutes to myself, I tend to either sleep or watch TV. I feel some guilt about it - like I should be doing something more useful and/or more rejuvenating with my little pockets of "me" time. It's also hard to see how this is going to change anytime soon, as my child needs constant care and attention and will for some time. Am I missing something or should I tell myself it's ok to just relax and nap my weekends (we're talking 2-4 naps a weekend) and TV my weeknights away?

It's sort of a paradox, isn't it? Creating another demand on yourself by ordering yourself to engage in a certain type of self-care given the demands on yourself?

I say-- figure out exactly how the TV and naps feel for you and what they do or don't do for you. If that is what you need, that is what you need! That might actually be self-care, and so the worst thing you could do for yourself is feel guilty that you're not doing something more productively self-care-y with your time. It wastes that time altogether by keeping you from being sustained by it-- its whole purpose.

That said, maybe it's not actually self-care. Maybe you feel guilty for doing the things that would really be self-care-- like getting out of the house, spending time with a friend, getting a real night's sleep, getting time to exercise or watch a movie or whatever your flavor may be. Maybe you can only "allow" yourself a bit of TV time rather than something more substantial, because it's the path of least resistance, and you're fooling yourself by thinking that that's sustaining.

It sort of boils down to the fact that one person's Game of Thrones is like therapy, whereas for another person it's a flimsy placeholder only kept in place by inertia and passivity, denying them a chance at really taking care of themselves.

Does this make sense? You've got to figure out-- do I look forward to this time? Do I feel better afterward? Does it help me?

Hi Dr. Andrea, Question about how my commute is affecting my life. I have terrible anxiety on the Metro, which I take to work every day. I wouldn't say I'm super claustrophobic but being in a tiny tunnel deep underground really freaks me out, especially whenever the trains tops before a platform. I'm terrified that one day I'll have to sit in a stopped car for an extended period of time. Whenever the car I am in stops inside a tunnel, my mind starts racing, heart rate up and I start to freak out!!! Does anyone else experience this? How can I get over this? Is this something that a type of therapy would help me with? I know rationally that I'm safer riding the Metro than riding in a car, and even if I had to sit underground for a while I would survive, but I can't think rationally in those situations!

I am definitely curious how many others experience this, because I would guess that it is not that uncommon-- claustrophobia itself being far from rare. Chatters?

I'm sorry you're going through this. An anxious commute can definitely infect your day! The good news is, this would be pretty straightforward to treat, behaviorally. You could work with someone who does systematic desensitization or exposure therapy or the like-- gradually building you into a more relaxed state during these rides by breaking the anxiety/Metro association that's been conditioned in you. There are probably some self-help types of resources as well if you wanted to try it alone for a bit-- the key would be re-conditioning yourself through repeated exposures, by doing relaxation exercises (breathing, visualizations, etc) along the way.

In absence of that, there's a chance that it will continue to get worse because you are reinforcing the conditioned response of anxiety, rather than relaxation, every new time you do this. And we don't want that!

I’ve been having an affair with a friend for a couple years and I want out. The problem is, anytime I try to cut things off, this person manipulates me into continuing the sexual relationship. This person is also a coworker and a friend which makes me want to continue to have a friendship after this relationship. I know I will be a much happier person if we stop, I just don’t know how to in a way that is final, but also maintains a friendship. Am I asking too much?

That depends. By "much," do you actually mean "much?"

Yes, you are asking too much.

But I'd venture that's not even the right question. Here's my version: why would you want a friendship with someone who is prone to manipulating you for sex?

I mean, seriously, is there something I'm missing here?

You'll be much happier if you stop. You know this. You wrote this. The problem is, your definition of "stop" is different than mine.

I think you need as clean a break as there can possibly be. Heck, I'd want you to look for other jobs, even, if it was up to me.

Please think about just what kind of entanglement you want to keep going with this person.

Dear Dr. Bonior, I would love your help please overcoming a huge conversational hurdle: I cannot talk about myself face-to-face. It’s weird. I’m very outgoing, a confident public speaker, great listener, can chat enthusiastically about all sorts of topics, blah blah blah... BUT when the spotlight turns to my life, I clam up. Growing up, it was drilled into me that it’s impolite to: 1) complain, 2) brag, 3) or talk about myself at all. What does that leave? If I do try to talk about my life, I feel like whatever I’m saying is probably too dull or weird anyway. So if someone interjects, I gladly turn the spotlight back on them. As a result, I know tons of people, but nobody really knows me at all. Please help! Thanks in advance.

So this is a really interesting spin on social anxiety. You clearly don't have social anxiety in general, but there's a specific situation in which the same type of symptomology crops up. (No shortage of these spins exist-- I've worked with people who get anxious around issues of eye contact, talking with people who are of a certain age, etc.)

In those moments, you really are entering a classically social-anxiety mindset-- you have the fear of negative evaluation (a phrase that starred in the subtitle of my dissertation!), a visceral discomfort, and the desire to avoid those situations altogether.

This is clearly getting in your way, though. You want more.

I would start with small behavioral goals, very specific and concrete, very systematic. Think about them when you enter a conversation. Push yourself to give one more sentence before switching the topic, etc. Keep yourself accountable. Chip away at this, with bigger goals broken into small goals. In theory, the more used to it you get, the easier it will become (as long as you are not traumatizing yourself by trying to push through sheer panic. Hence the small, systematic part.)

In terms of the larger not-being-known issue, have you thought about talking with someone who you are decently close to (even if one-sided) and telling them that this is something that you struggle with, but that you want to get better with? I know, I know-- that would be anxiety-provoking on a meta-level! But allowing yourself to be vulnerable in that way could help you push through that barrier, and also let them know that they could give you little supportive nudges as well.

Hi. I have a much older sister whom I love, but don't always particularly like. She is nearing 70, three failed marriages, no kids and she is extremely bitter. She loves my husband and three kids and is very generous financially (helping out with their schooling, activities etc), but incredibly critical. My oldest (adult, working 2 jobs plus University) was tardy with a thank you note and I received a lecture, my youngest child was prompt but the note was printed instead of cursive and that drew criticism. As soon as she steps into my house she looks for something to criticize, dust, a few dishes, doing laundry at wrong time of day. It doesn't matter what it is she will find something to complain about.

I have tried to talk to her about it but she either dismisses it, denies it or accuses me of being too sensitive. Even my kids don't want to be around her any more. I have been disabled for several years and unable to work, my husband doesn't have benefits and health costs have almost bankrupted us. My sister had always offered to pay for prescriptions but I hadn't taken her up on it until recently when a host of other expenses left us broke. When I approached her for a loan she accused me of being financially irresponsible and that I was waiting around for her and my other sister to die so I could get their money. I was gutted that she would even think that, never mind voice it. I burst into tears and she left. I haven't seen her since, and according to my other sister who called her out on it, she doesn't think she said anything wrong. I don't know how to get past this.

Ugh, I can imagine that was very hurtful indeed.

Here's the thing, though: ultimately you'll have to make a choice. I'm going to wager that given her life history at this point, she is not going to suddenly become an unconditionally supportive, optimistic person who sprinkles loving encouragement wherever she goes. While there may be a chance of that happening, it is so miniscule as to be virtually non-existent. I'm betting her negativity is so ingrained in her that she views it as the correct way to look at the world, and she won't be particularly capable of seeing that it is unwarranted or hurtful.

So, do you want to continue to accept her financial support, knowing that it comes with these particular strings? Gooey, smelly, ugly strings that have fully-barbed fishing hooks and the carcass of a rotting striped bass on the end of them?

I'm afraid that's the choice you have here. I'm not saying you shouldn't accept her help, but as long as you do, you can continue to express your feelings and hurt but if she doesn't choose to change her ways, there's not much you can do. Dealing with her judgment is the price of admission.

Perhaps the unwilling voyeur could put up a sign on her balcony that reads, "Gold's Gym -- Special prices this month" -- just something that lets him know that while he's happy about letting it all hang out, not everybody wants to see it. There's nothing like laughing and pointing to make an exhibitionist uncomfy. Another option is to put up some trellises with fast-growing vines on them, to let in air and sunshine, but give her something nicer to see while she's enjoying her balcony.

The trellis answer is definitely more my style!

I do think it's still unclear if this person is actually an exhibitionist.

Is taking the bus an alternative? GPS has revolutionized bus travel.

Great point!

I know exactly what the OP is talking about. I have exactly 8 hours one day a week where I am all by myself with no obligations. Yes, I feel like I should sign up for yoga or go on a hike, but what I end up doing is sitting on my couch and reading a book. And I LIKE it! Give yourself a break. Naps are good. Sitting on your couch and watching cartoons is fine. You don't have to go out and do an "activity" to be all-about-you for a few hours.

Yes! That is the key. Do you actually like it? And then can you let yourself just BE, and get the benefits of it?

Thank you.

Threads coming together alert ... . Can you tell your friends that you don't have the bandwidth to organize anything but you'd love to see them. Could they get in touch regularly and ask about coming by -perhaps with dinner or after toddler is in bed dessert?

Yes... if part of the self-care that OP thinks would be helpful is social in nature (and for the vast majority of us it is, even if we don't want to exert the effort in the moment) then this is a great idea!

Time for some real talk - this "friend" is not a friend. They are a manipulator; they are using you and are not worth your friendship. Take a step back and think - if I saw this person treating someone I love the way they are treating me, would I want to be friends with this person?

A great metric. Thank you.

Dh and I have been married for 15 years. We have 2 children 10 and 11. The 10 yr old has autism, ADHD, and depression and is on meds. DH is in a busy caregiving profession and I'm a teacher so the default parenting falls to me. I am frustrated that DH hasn't put in the work to read the diagnoses from school or learn how to navigate our high functioning child. He looks "normal" ( typical) and can pass as "normal" at times but that doesn't remove the rigid thinking or hyperfocus. Then DH and child butt heads. 3 months ago I found and met with a counselor but DH never found the time to meet with him. I'm tired of carrying the emotional burdens of our family. Any advice? I'm ready to run away for a few days but that won't work out well for anyone.

I am sorry.

It's unclear to me, though, how frank a discussion you have had with your husband about how exhausted you are. Might this be a case of your husband just assuming you've got it under control, that you are happy to be 'in charge,' and maybe even that classic division-of-labor bugaboo-- that you are 'better' at this stuff than he would be?

If you are frustrated, you have to convey it. If you have expectations that he's not meeting, it's time to discuss them and hear what he thinks of those expectations. If you want DH to met with a counselor, then you've got to make that clear.

This could all be moot if you've tried these things already... but I just can't tell from your letter. If indeed this has been a recurring direct conversation and conflict, then that is another level of problem: that he is unwilling or unable to get on board with what you feel the family needs.

Wow! Did I write that myself?? I get SO anxious on Metro as well. I only have to take it about six stops from home to work (and back) each day but it still stresses me out every time... I really try to focus on my breathing, I read the paper in the morning, look at pictures on my phone in the afternoon. I also stand up even if there are seats available (I don't know why this helps... maybe it gives me something else to focus on?). If we do stop in the tunnel for some reason, I start counting and have never made it past 30 seconds (lucky me, I know). If I'm extra anxious, I look around and try to find people I could chat with if we do stop for an extended period... I like having people to talk to/work things out with. I took the bus a few times but doubled my commute time. I also walk sometimes if its nice out... but it's a three mile walk so need to have time to do this. But, you're not alone!!

OP, you have soul sisters/brothers out there.

And it sounds like there are little ways to cope here and there that make things just a little bit easier. Thank you! 

I have the same issue with claustrophobia in the metro. Although I also have the issue in elevators, caves, planes, etc... It's taken me several years of therapy and hard-work to get to the point where I'm okay with taking metro and, even now, I don't enjoy it. I take the bus when I can, but I found that therapy was the most helpful solution. Pretty soon, I'll be living where the bus is much more of a hassle than the train, something I didn't expect would ever happen, so I'm even happier that I've invested in the therapy already.

Glad to hear that it was helpful. And nothing wrong with some booster sessions too!

I think OP is being a little too harsh... haven't we all sat down and watched TV in our underwear? Maybe get a plant or something. This reminds me of the naked guy from Friends.

Yes! Someone in the comments I believe referred to this as well.

Thank you for the response! I never thought about the fact that I am building more negative associations.

You're welcome. It's a big problem when it comes to conditioning! The good news is, though, it works both ways-- so once you make some progress the ball can keep rolling in that other direction.

It's axiomatic that the best way to make a point is to make it by telling a story. Perhaps if you view narrating something about yourself in that light, then it can help you see talking about yourself in a differently. What point are you making when you tell a story about yourself? For example: My history teacher in high school led me to go into history professionally. This is a story about: important people in your life, how we are influenced and how we take certain roads on our journey. The simple illustration of talking about Miss Tomley and the effect she had on me is powerful.

I can see this. It also might make it more straightforward and less intimidating: I'm just talking about an event that happens to include me, not outlaying my deepest inner workings.

Sort of the difference between narrative nonfiction and tear-jerking memoir!


Sorry, way behind on chats and just catching up. I could be the friend that never reaches out to make plans, but wait, let me explain. I am a huge planner, I love to plan, but my friends didn't seem to love my plans. Over time the following: Would you like to go to X new movie Friday? No, I don't want to see that movie. Would you like to have dinner at Y restaurant on Saturday? No, I'm reorganizing my cabinets that night. See the trend? A "no" to what I want to do and no alternate suggestion (time/place/activity). My plans were being met with a "no" every time. So now I live my life, and if they contact me with plans I say "yes" if I'm able. But I don't bother trying to make the plans anymore, and no one has said anything about it - but if they asked I would tell them all of this. The moral: be the friend you want to have, and there are usually 2-sides to every story.

I like that moral quite a bit.

I'm sorry that these friends have been so tough in this way-- that sounds pretty irritating-- but glad that you have found a way to move forward on your own terms.

I am also claustrophobic and hate taking the metro. A book I read on how to deal with claustrophobia suggested envisioning the worst that could happen and how to deal with it. That's what I did -- I decided that I would read my Kindle while we were stuck and if we were stuck for a while, the driver would guide us through the tunnels. When I was stuck a while back, that worked for me. Similarly, I always take my phone on an elevator and envision that I would play games while waiting for rescue.

Another vote! Yeah, for a lot of people, this mental rehearsal can help them feel more in control, which is a godsend.


I'm extremely claustrophobic and have a lot of trouble with crowds. What helps me ward off a panic attack is taking a beta blocker. It keeps my heart from racing, but doesn't sedate me.

A possible consideration-- to be discussed with a doctor, of course. Thanks!

I don't get anxiety being on Metro but I hate it SO MUCH. I've discovered downloading podcasts to listen to really helps because I have a curated collection that I look forward to listening to every day - and I *only* let myself listen to them while commuting. OP could try downloading some guided meditations or breathing exercises to listen to?

Great idea. I didn't even think to emphasize the fact that as part of the self-help, OP can actually have some guided relaxation exercises going via smartphone.

And your point is so well-taken about having something that you look forward to that you only do during your commute. Adding that positive element of conditioning can be really helpful as well. Thanks.

Yes, I see the trend, and it could very well be that these friends just want more time to themselves or for other people. Are you perhaps trying to organize too-frequent gatherings, or are these friends trying to hint to you that they're just not always available?

Could certainly be a possibility. I like how OP, though, has reacted to these responses by taking heed and not continuing to beat his/her head against a wall. So whatever was causing it, it sounds like the cycle is on its way out.

I'm pregnant, due in a few months. My husband and I went to a wedding over the weekend, and I swear I've never seen so many poorly behaved kids in one place. Yowling, fighting, whining, shoving, shrieking even got up from his seat during the ceremony and deliberately rammed me with his chair. I felt shell-shocked by all of it, and was even wondering if we'd made a mistake by getting pregnant. What was worse was that all of the parents all stood by and did nothing while their kids were disruptive and obnoxious. Am I being unreasonable for thinking that public behavior matters, and a disruptive child should be removed from an event until he or she can calm down, which is how I was raised? I know nostalgia is a dangerous and imperfect thing, but I honestly don't remember this sort of mayhem being allowed when I was growing up.

No, you are not being unreasonable at all to think that public behavior matters.

And as much as I do think that the "Kids these days!" mindset is ever-repeating and ever-present and often inaccurate, I do think there have been some measurable loosening of standards in what we expect from kids in public. And I think we are doing a disservice to our kids when we let this happen; and we are not allowing them to build the muscle of self-control and respect.

(Can I blame technology as part of it, for the 276th time? If you were a kid at a restaurant in 1997, you had to learn to wait and be bored and maybe even converse with adults and delay gratification. And you grew a little bit. Now, you don't need to learn any of that if Mommy or Daddy shoves a device in your hand.)

Rest assured, though-- you can raise your children in the way that YOU see fit. So don't despair!

I felt like the letter from 6/18 about how to cope with a chronically worrying spouse could have been written by me. Sometimes, I feel like my wife's worrying is a constant low background din and she just need some small thing to hang it on in order to give it weight and make it "real"; whether it be an issue at work, a conversation with her mother that requires hours of analysis, or prepping for a party. To me, it appears she feels a perpetual dread that something, anything is about to go wrong. I fail to see how worrying about this unnamed doom helps her at all. She has been in therapy before, but after establishing a long-term trust with a therapist, she stopped taking insurance and we moved about an hour away. Since then she's been reluctant to try anyone else, save for one whose approach she didn't jive with. I I wanted ask if there are any strategies to help my wife come down from the ledge or head off her worry-spiraling before it gets going, and also how to nudge her to reentering therapy (something I would be willing to attend with her so I can learn how to help).

I do feel like if she had a positive experience with therapy in the past, it's important that she get back in, especially because the move probably caused some stress and anxiety that might have jostled some of the progress she made.

But first, though, you might want to hear from her exactly how she thinks she's doing. ("I know you felt like that last therapist wasn't a good fit. How do you feel like you're doing these days? Would it be helpful for me to help you find someone else?") And how she feels that you could be helpful in these situations in the moment. ("We've talked about this conversation with your Mom for a while now. I want to be helpful, but it doesn't feel that way. How can I best help you? It feels like you are ruminating, and I don't want to make it worse.")

If she really wants to do the work, there are plenty of thought-management strategies that can work, on her own and in therapy. She might consider seeking out a therapist who is heavy on mindfulness or even practices Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The key will be for her to recognize and label these worries as what they are-- little itches that come from her anxiety history but don't have to become empowered or listened to-- and breathing through them while letting them pass (sometimes hard to describe in general, abstract terms!)

Thanks for taking my question and to others who chimed in. I really appreciate your perspective and the reflection questions about whether these activities actually make me feel better or not. I think that will help me make better decisions about TV watching - some of it is really deliberate and enjoyable and some of it is simply inertia, as you said. You nailed it by mentioning just "BE"ing; that is something I need to DO (oops! haha).


I'm so glad it was helpful.

This is a struggle for a great many people, especially people with packed schedules seeing to everyone else's needs. You are not alone!

The problem with the example given today is that it may be too prescriptive every single time. How about asking if they want to meet for diner and then mutually agreeing to a restaurant. I have a friend who's go to for hanging out is going over to her place to watch Netflix and eat pizza! i want to see this friend but after doing this a number of times its just boring! and too rigid.

Yes. Inertia is a funny thing, isn't it? Like in this friend's case.... it could be that Netflix and pizza has just grown so comfortable because it's easy and passive.

Or it could be that that's all they really want to do anymore. So, you ask and you try and you listen, for sure!

My partner has depression and PTSD. I did not see very many signs of this until about a year and a half into our relationship. By that time we'd moved in together and I was in love. We are almost 4 years in and it is steadily getting worse. He has had a hard time keeping a job and hasn't worked in 8 months now, and this is not his first time spending long stretches unemployed while we were living together. I have a full time job that makes barely enough to pay our bills, but I haven't pushed him to get a job as much as I should because of his mental health issues. He has, as a result, lost his ability to drive his car (can't afford insurance or tags for car), lost his cell phone due to not paying for service, and is completely dependent on me for all living expenses. I'm not happy about it but I love him and am hoping it is temporary. I have tried to get him to go to counseling or a pshychiatrist, but he has no health insurance and his PTSD makes him not want to go to the free clinics because a lot of drug addicts go to them. I realize I can't make him do anything, but I am worried about him. My family and his family are both disappointed in him and make it known to him, which doesn't help. He helps with housework but at least 75% of it still falls to me. So, while I am not super happy about carrying the load financially and being the only one working, I've been dealing.

Until about a month ago when he decided he didn't want me to drink beer anymore. He said his PTSD comes from a bad childhood where alcohol was a big factor, which is true. So I gave it a shot... I hate it. I am not a problem drinker, but I exercise in the morning, go to work all day, come home and mop, clean toilets, etc. and a few days a week I want to have a few beers at the end of the day. I never get mean when I drink, we don't fight very often, but he says he "doesn't want alcohol in his life anymore." On top of all the other things that are going on, I feel he has no right to ask me to quit drinking entirely. I am literally holding the life we have together at the seams while he does not get mental health help, does not work, and does not help me with the household stuff. I don't want to lose him, but I am seriously considering telling him, "I'm going to continue to drink in moderation. If you don't like it we can discuss what happens next." Problem is, if it is a deal-breaker for him he has nowhere to go. He's alienated most of his family and friends too, and I don't think any of them would be eager to take him in. I don't want to break up, but I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this. When we met he was employed, helped more around the house, and he drank in moderation and did not care if I drank a few days a week.

We could have a whole debate on the rightness of your agreeing or not agreeing to abstain from drinking around him.

But that is a red herring to me.

He is desperately in need of help-- help more substantial than your not drinking-- and does not show any signs of getting it. What is his long-term solution here? Does he think that things are sustainable this way? Does he think that your not drinking around him is the only type of treatment that he needs?

I don't advise that you die on the hill of "I'm going to drink around you." I do advise, though, that you pick "You need to be getting help" as your Battle of Choice.

It is always hard when you know that the person may not have a place to go.

But it's also not an option for you to suffer for their inaction for the rest of your life. He is an adult, and it is up to him to choose to get support.

So, will he?

Although I don't have real Metro anxiety, sitting in one of those tunnels for a while does get to me. My Kindle is an absolute godsend in terms of making the time fly by. I make sure to always have at least 2 books on it -- the one I am reading, and another one waiting in the wings in case I finish the first. Another thing I've found that takes my mind off my commute (which can be stress-inducing no matter what) is using a photo editing app to play around with some favorite photos - the fun/calming ones like cherry blossoms or my little nieces.

More help-- thank you!

It really makes you think about how many people sitting beside you on Metro are struggling in their own ways, doesn't it?

Could you find out what Prince William and Duchess Kate (and their nannies and her parents) are doing right with Prince George and Princess Charlotte? (Other than a tiny meltdown when Charlotte was in the Terrible Twos, they seem quite well-behaved).


I think it must involve crumpets.

Definitely siding with all those suggesting you get over it. Your neighbor is in the one place where he can truly be himself. He's not doing anything illegal or untoward (based on your letter). And it *isn't* gross--nudity is the natural state of things, even though it bothers you. It's fair to make one comment in case he doesn't realize you can see him, but then you need to make peace with it. You live in a city, and one of the unfortunate side effects is having to share your space with others. Look in the 300 other degrees that isn't toward his apartment, and you'll be just fine.

I can definitely see this perspective. It is definitely a fact of city life for a lot of people.

That said, there's probably a wide spectrum of offensiveness... from lounging to actually baiting someone, willing them to look.

could just mean that they're waiting for you to say, "Well, what movie would you like to see?" or that they're giving you the option to find another friend who does want to see that movie.

True. Some people might just be steering overzealously clear of their notion of imposing.

Hey OP, do the math. Do you realize how much you're spending on beer per year? It could go quite a ways toward helping your financial situation. So you can kill multiple birds with one stone by quitting drinking.

It's not a bad point.

Coming from the UK, where almost all weather is considered fine for going outside. Please let kids go outside, get some fresh air and run off that energy. My nephews are lovely lads - but they do endless, shrieking laps of my in-laws house at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Almost always the weather was fine - if a bit chilly - for them to race around outside. Kids don't get nearly enough time outside. I remember that sundays used to be long walk in the country day. Sometimes I didn't love it but mostly I did love the crackle of twigs, the birds, the chats - and the tea and crumpets when we got back chilly, damp and happily exhausted.

Absolutely. You are speaking my language! (Just with a slightly different accent.)

I get extremely nauseous on the Metro and find that I can't read anything (phone, kindle, paper, literally anything). What helps for me are podcasts and audio books. It's very easy to focus on that and not on the other things that makes Metro less than ideal. And the tone is usually pretty standard, which helps calm me down.

Audiobooks and podcasts for the win! Thank you!

I know the therapist with whom your wife built a rapport is an hour away and doesn't take insurance. But is it possible for her to go once a month or so and pay full wack. I feel from you that your wife was on a good path with her.

It's a useful thing to consider, thanks.

Even if I'm not sure whether "full wack" is a typo or the greatest term I've ever heard. (Or both.)

What was odd was that, after I grabbed the chair that was about to smush my stomach, and gave the kid a death glare, he seemed stunned and then simmered down. Like no adult had ever stood up to him before. Horrifying. I tend to be pretty strict with kids when they're in my home, and not very concerned about whether they like me or not. Hopefully that will serve me well.

It will!

Long live the Death Stare of Shame!

When my husband was a child and would go visit a favorite great-uncle, if the boy got antsy, his uncle would tell him to go outside and run around the perimeter of the house 10 times before he could come back in. It's become a running (get it?) joke in the family.


The funny thing is, it might be meant as punishment, but for some kids is exactly what they need! (Not that I know any of those.)

This comes up all the time in the NYC real estate columns. There actually are regulations against this in certain places, so you might want to look into your local situation--google and you might find some info or contact your local govt representative to see if there is any regulation. I would not recommend calling police or making a big deal of it.

Ooh-- yes, we can probably learn something from New Yorkers on this matter. Thanks!

Inch by inch, bit by bit -- and we eventually look around and say, "How the heck did I get HERE??" BF isn't working, says he has PTSD, won't get help, doesn't do squat around the house, and wants LW to quit having a beer or two after work? I'm not denigrating LW because I know how easy it is to end up in that spot, but geez-o-petes, LW, get him out of your life. He's got a warm cozy nest and is quite pleased for you to work your tail off keeping him happy. Makes life easier for him, and a few scattered "I love you"s and "I don't know what I'd do without you"s makes sure his place on the couch in front of the TV, is secure. Doesn't do much for you, though, does it?

I don't want to invalidate his PTSD at all.

That said, sometimes a zooming-out perspective from an outsider can shake things up in a good way.

It's a Brit expression - I'm the person who wrote in about kids here not getting enough outdoor time.

Ahhh! Perfect.

Dear Balcony, Sunglasses Dear Friend, Earplugs There, fixed that for ya!

Sunglasses and earplugs-- it's the gift that keeps on giving!

Wow. I can't even with "Hey OP, do the math. Do you realize how much you're spending on beer per year? It could go quite a ways toward helping your financial situation. " Sounds like the type of person who wants SNAP benefits to be used on nothing but bread and bologna, how dare a poor person want a peach or some chicken. Or the folks to who tell milennials they could buy a house if they just stopped going to Starbucks. Sorry, an extra couple hundred a year does nothing to address the problem that the BF is a freeloader, PTSD or not.

Yes, I don't want to have encouraged the shaming or oversimplification that might have been inherent in there.

I do think there is a much deeper issue at play.


The hour has struck 2 and so the stagecoach is turning back into a pumpkin. As always, it flew.

Thanks again for being here-- and I look so forward to next week. In the meantime, see you in the comments and on Facebook!

Be well.

In This Chat
Dr. Andrea Bonior
Dr. Andrea Bonior is a licensed clinical psychologist and the voice behind Baggage Check since its start in 2005. She serves on the faculty of Georgetown University and is the author of the Publisher's Weekly best-seller "Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World" and "The Friendship Fix.”
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