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Bonior: Eating on eggshells

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: No one is allowed to say anything negative, ever, about my husband’s cooking. He’s such a perfectionist and prides himself on doing everything just right, and once it’s up to his standards, he gets deeply annoyed if anyone mentions anything even minor about it. It has gotten really embarrassing. Help!

It’s clear that cooking is an area where, for whatever reason, criticism is painful for him. Plenty of people can relate. (What’s that you’re trying to say about my goulash?) What I’m surprised at is how often other people are apparently commenting negatively on his cooking. Who’s coming over for dinner, the judges from “Iron Chef”?

But the next time he’s over the top with his annoyance, pick a private time later on to talk to him about it. “You know how much I love your cooking, and Sarah does, too. But you seemed to get really upset when she made the paprika comment. How can I help you feel OK when things like this happen? It’s something I’ve been noticing lately.” Don’t pile it on, and if he’s not responsive, let it lie. At least you’ve planted the seed, and then you can keep returning to it.

Q: I’ve been friends with this guy for almost three years. I met him when he was in a relationship. We were intimate during his relationship and have been since his relationship ended a year ago. I want to be more than friends, but he says that he doesn’t want to be in a relationship because he’s not ready for marriage. He wants me to wait for him until he’s ready, but I’m not sure if it’s a waste of my time. He says that he wants me to spend more time with him and let things naturally happen.

He wants to continue to “spend more time” and “let things naturally happen.” Sounds like a healthy manifesto for dating – until you throw in the part that you’ve been sleeping with him for years and now want something more. That makes the prognosis much more dire.

He’s not giving you much to work with here, and he didn’t seem capable of – or interested in – actually being in a relationship even when he was pretending to be in one with someone else. I think the calculus on “wasting your time” is pretty clear. It’s time to cut your losses and learn a bit more about what you’re really looking for.

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