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Baggage Check: Big sister can make rules as landlord

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: My sister wants to live with me this summer. She’s finishing her freshman year of college and thinks that living in my apartment would be more exciting than staying with our parents. But she’s said nothing about how she would pay rent, get a job, etc. She has always mooched off me because we are 13 years apart. I want to say no, but I don’t think she'll be doing much better for herself at our parents’ house.

A: I think there’s potential here because you can be in the driver’s seat, choosing to house her if and only if she abides by your rules. And those rules can cover employment prerequisites (she has to find a job that makes such-and-such amount of money, or a solid internship in a field she’s interested in) as well as the actual living situation (she'll pay you such-and-such, she'll do certain chores, she won’t steal your deodorant). Since you’re willing to consider this, I think it could be a formative anti-mooching experience for her, and could bring good things to your relationship.

Q: I’ve just discovered that my boyfriend of six years cheated on me. He says he loves me and that the other girls meant nothing. But he has done nothing to help us through this other than apologize. I’m torn as to whether I should trust him again. While I’ve been through hell, I still love him. I want to be sure before I decide I’ve wasted six years of my life.

A: Whether you wasted six years of your life is not dependent on whether you stay with him. It’s about what you make of this experience. Even if you leave, you can take something from the relationship – strength, increased self-esteem or clarity. Nothing in your letter tells me that he’s on the road to making changes – his effort is going into making excuses. Who do you want to be with: someone who puts you through “hell,” or the possible men behind doors No. 2 through 2 billion?

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