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Stop the flirt or get hurt

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 think my sister’s boyfriend has feelings for me. I wouldn’t date him because that’s a line I wouldn’t cross, and I’m just coming out of a divorce and not in a place for dating anyway. Still, I don’t think he should be dating her when he has feelings for me, but I know I can’t tell her this. He is quite flirtatious whenever we are alone. How can I convince her to break up with him without her getting suspicious?

I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re vigorously attempting to convince yourself that you’re not after your sister’s boyfriend when, in fact, you really are.

But let’s stick with what I know: You must not indulge his flirtation. You can’t make your sister’s decisions for her, and depending on your relationship, any attempt to steer her might backfire. So back off; curtail your alone time with him. If he pushes further, drop a hint to her that things aren’t right but let her learn more at her own pace. You’d also do well to examine your motivations here, as your reasons not to date him sound about as sturdy as my pile of wet phone bills (don’t ask – I’ve got kids).

Q: I can feel my close friends slipping away, and I believe it’s because of my special-needs child. I was there for them when they had children years ago. Now that I’m in my mid-40s with a toddler with developmental delays and going through a really rough patch – I’m pretty much a single mom – they don’t seem to have enough time for me. I feel resentful that when I need them more than ever, they seem to not want much to do with me.

To feel cut off from your closest friends, especially as you’re trying to raise a child mostly by yourself, is just the piece of manure on top of the sundae.

But to get to the bottom of what’s going on, you’ve got to have a real conversation. This could be a temporary drift or a permanent breach. The important thing for you to convey is that you miss them, you need them, and you want to find a way to connect more meaningfully. Then listen. There could be slights here you’re not aware of or history more complicated than you’re letting on. By all means, though, if you can’t get the support you need from them, try to connect with other moms in your shoes.

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