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Baggage Check: Wanting a friend, not a twin

By Andrea Bonior 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: A longtime friend of mine seems to be copying everything I do. At first I was flattered when she bought some clothes similar to mine, some of the same furniture, started using my hairstylist, etc. She’s getting into the same TV shows I watch, and even talking about her and her husband getting pregnant because of how cute my toddler is (seriously). It’s getting creepy.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that flattery gets a little less fun when someone is digging through your bathroom drawers to see where you bought your eyeliner. Does she acknowledge what’s going on? Is she open about her mimicry, or do you discover things by accident? Does she have a sense of humor?

Ideally, you can feel her out with a joke and see how she reacts (“I’m placing a bet for how long until I see these same shoes on your feet!”) An insightful friend will let the jokes sink in and then either ask you if you’re bothered by it or gradually change her behavior. But if it’s seriously making you uncomfortable and there’s no sign of change, you need to step back from the friendship.

Wife needs to clean up

Q: My wife doesn’t take very good physical care of herself, and it’s starting to show. I’m not talking about dressing in sweatpants or not having perfect make-up. I’m talking about not brushing her teeth, not showering enough, wearing filthy clothes, etc. She’s always prided herself on not being a “girly-girl” and I’m fine with that. But now, when she leaves for work, sometimes I worry what people are thinking of her. Of course I love her and want to be with her no matter what. I just don’t know how to bring this up.

This might just be her personality, combined with the comfort of being married to someone who is generous with unconditional love (bravo on that, by the way!), or it could be something more serious, like depression or anxiety.

Pick a private and relaxed time to start the discussion. Tell her that you love how she’s not a “girly-girl” and you don’t want her to be, but you’re concerned that she’s not taking as good of care of herself as she used to, and you’re worried about her. Do more listening than talking, and if she then makes some effort, no matter how small, praise it – without being condescending.

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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