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Not a staring contest

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: How do I tell my girlfriend that it is totally hypocritical for her to drool over guys’ bodies if she doesn’t want me to do that about hot women?

Just to be clear: Are we talking actual salivation here?

There’s no doubt that double standards exist. And all of them bring their own issues, so if you’re going to pick one to make waves about, make sure it’s one that’s actually making waves in your relationship.

Yes, indeed, anyone drooling over someone who’s not their mate can be downright disrespectful. So if your girlfriend is doing something that is hurtful to you, by all means, talk about it.

Don’t be afraid to admit that it bothers you as an individual. Trying to cover up your feelings by turning it into a gender war only means you’re not being true to yourself.

But if you’re not bothered by it and are just trying to make a point, you might regret choosing this particular battle – especially when she brings up the many other double standards that go in the opposite direction.

So, from an argument standpoint, you should bring it up at your own peril.

Q: My husband and I are getting divorced, in large part because he fell in love with a co-worker. He plans to marry her as soon as our divorce is final. The thought of her raising our children, even in part, absolutely makes me sick, so I’m fighting for full custody. My husband wants joint custody, and he isn’t a bad father. But I just can’t stand the idea of her and my kids. My friends say I need to accept that she’s going to be in their lives.

You can’t change your husband’s choices. What you can affect is your own behavior – and what kind of mom you choose to be. Will it be one who gets help to get healthy and do what’s best by them, or one who is mired in hurt and anger (however justifiable those feelings are)?

Seek a therapist with experience in these issues; you need to feel heard, and to develop strategies for coping with your feelings. It’s not about flipping a switch to get over it, but to have a space that’s solely your own where you can gradually process your emotions and move forward. You’ve been through a lot. You – and your children – deserve for you to feel better.

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