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Baggage Check: Cheater’s Predicament

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: I’ve been messing around with my friend’s wife. We flirted a lot, and eventually hooked up. She said it was a nice distraction, as she was unhappy at work and couldn’t talk to her husband about such things. I’ve never been interested in getting serious. Lately, she’s started talking about leaving her husband and “coming clean.” She thinks we may have a future together. I’m desperate to extract myself from this situation with as little collateral damage as possible.

There’s no way to sugarcoat this: You’re about to break up an ill-advised pseudo-relationship with someone who probably won’t take it well, and who has the power to make your life as miserable as a marathon of proctologist visits. There. Does that solve things?

Seriously, all you can do is be kind. She might be devastated and vindictive; she might not. She might tell her husband; she might not. He might try to ruin you socially; he might not. The best thing you can do is to choose to take a healthier, more decisive road from this point forward. End things clearly and respectfully, and hold your breath that karma gives you a freebie.

Q: My unemployed friend is constantly on Facebook, and I’m worried that the content of her posts might be hindering her ability to find a job. Her posts are usually political and at times vulgar or laced with expletives. I once brought this up with her, and she said she was “protected” by her privacy settings, but is this true?

Oh, yeah. She’s protected by privacy settings the way my steak is protected by a large pit bull. Any 13-year-old hacker worth his pizza boxes can break into someone’s Facebook page and temporarily or permanently expose it to public view.

But even more crucial to your friend’s situation is that she doesn’t seem to realize that in job-seeking, it’s all about who you know. Even without security breaches, she has to understand that the very people who may be able to hook her up with a job lead are constantly seeing her unflattering shenanigans online. Not wise. Gently explain to her that while she’s job-hunting, she’d be helped by pretending she’s on an interview during all her public interactions, unless she’s the type of person who drops the F-bomb in a job interview.

Q: My sister is a drug addict. She was hospitalized for heroin withdrawal, quickly signed herself out of rehab and recently had a blood clot in her lung. She doesn’t seem to realize how serious a blood clot can be. She was given blood thinners, but she leaves the house for days at a time and returns on drugs. We want to kick her out but we’re afraid she won’t take her blood thinners. We can’t force her to see a therapist.

My heart goes out to you. You’re caught in that desperate situation of wanting to help someone who doesn’t want to help herself. The paradox, of course, is that at some point, you must be willing to let her hurt herself to guide her into a better life.

How near she is to her rock bottom is not for me to say, and so I could never tell you whether an intervention should be next. But you and your family could absolutely use counseling. You deserve support and guidance, and it’s imperative to have a professional in place in case she might become ready for help. A specialist can help you hold an intervention if it comes time. You should also check out Nar-anon.org.

Andrea Bonior, a Washington-area clinical psychologist, writes a mental health advice column in The Washington Post’s Express daily tabloid and is author of “The Friendship Fix.” www.drandreabonior.com.
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