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She’s no. 3 to his twins

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’m dating a guy devoted to his twin 5-year-olds. I think that bodes well, since I want to start a family with him someday. But I’m wondering if he’ll ever put me first. I know that sounds selfish, but he’ll drop everything if his ex calls about his children. He often can’t confirm plans because of custody-schedule issues. I’m beginning to feel like I’ll always be low on the totem pole compared to his kids. Am I being irrational?

That depends. Do you expect this to change?

Everything you said is probably true – you might always come second (or third). The key is viewing this as part of who he is and deciding if you still want in. When you analyze your decision, consider both sides. As you mention, being a devoted father is clearly a great quality. But is it a quality that’s great in the context of the relationship you want? And what role would you ever foresee having with his kids? Realistically, as they get older, the time demands might lessen, but they also might not. Knowing yourself well enough to decide whether you could be content with the latter case is crucial for your future happiness.

Q: I’ve been having a lot of panic attacks ever since being involved in a car accident five months ago. My doctor prescribed Klonopin, and I use it as a crutch, along with alcohol. I feel like I’m getting worse, not better, even though everyone tells me that time should heal some of my trauma. I know the answer is counseling, but I guess I’m looking for a rationale of why I should really do it. I’m usually not very comfortable talking about myself.

Just because something isn’t comfortable doesn’t mean it isn’t good for you. And, frankly, sometimes overly comfortable stuff – like Klonopin – can do you bad.

Drugs and alcohol aren’t a permanent way out of post-traumatic symptomology. They can only numb your feelings, while cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you gain control of them. CBT will help you neutralize some of the triggers that remind you of the accident and give you emotional and physical tools to lessen your anxiety and stop reliving it (consciously or unconsciously). Unfortunately, time by itself doesn’t always heal, especially when the root of the problem is continuing to eat away at you.

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