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Baggage Check: Moving a friendship beyond Facebook

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: I moved just as I was developing a new friendship. I’d like to keep this friend (and not let it turn into just a Facebook thing), but I’m having difficulty. We had both expressed an interest in continuing our friendship, but now I feel like I can’t get her to talk freely with me. I’m afraid of coming off as clingy. Suggestions?

It’s hard to know how your approach is truly coming across here. If you can’t meet in person, I’m assuming you’re talking by phone? Many people, unfortunately, no longer want to talk on the phone at all, and so the text/Facebook/IM trifecta is all they’ve got.

That could possibly demote you to “Facebook thing” no matter what. Of course, not all Facebook relationships are created equal, so you might attempt some more meaningful non-phone conversation. But as much as I believe in taking the time to grow a quality friendship when you feel a spark with someone, you’re at a distinct disadvantage here. You might be wise to exert some energy into building friendships in your new location. If it can happen once, it can happen again – preferably with someone you can eat dinner with.

Q: I became my parents’ primary caregiver 3 1/2 years ago. Dad is 79, had a stroke and has increasing dementia; he also is diabetic with high blood pressure. He’s no longer allowed to drive. Mom is 83 and has increasing dementia and is also not allowed to drive. I’m an only child. I have two paid caregivers and a couple of aunts helping me, but I’m getting worn down. How do we decide when assisted living/nursing care is imminent?

There aren’t easy answers here. So much of the timing and decision-making depend on your and your parents’ personal resources – including energy, money and social support. A first step is to research and tour some specific venues to begin to see how they fit; one place might give a “We’re not there yet” vibe while another one might seem perfect.

Get opinions from as many people as you can, including your caregivers, doctors and family members. Most important, open up a dialogue with your parents. There’s no exact right time for assisted living, but the more data you can gather, the clearer the choice will be.

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