Mending a Friendship, Scoring a Proposal

Got issues? Dr. Andrea Bonior will help you sort them out.

Art by Eric Reece for ExpressI “broke up” with a platonic friend a while back when I felt she was a drag on my energy and attitude. I now realize that I was wrong, and that I was probably going through a selfish phase. I have no idea how to rebuild the friendship. I never did anything hurtful per se; I just drifted off until she couldn’t rely on me anymore.
—ASHAMED

If you’re truly ready to be the kind of friend you want to be, and the kind of friend she needs, then let her learn to rely on you again. Walk the walk, just minus the whole “fading out and becoming unreliable” thing. And you must face head-on the truth about why you decided to end it. Make sure that blaming a “selfish phase” is not a cop-out — why did it affect your friendship with her but presumably not others in your life? Might there be something she did that got under your skin? Might you be at risk for having “Selfish Phase — The Sequel?”

Once you’re honest with yourself, you can be honest with her. If she’ll agree to have coffee or nachos or screwdrivers with you, that’s a start. If she (understandably) is hesitant or throws a downright Cowellian snub your way, you might start with a brief but frank e-mail about the regrets you have, and how you’re really hoping to repair your relationship. Your final exam, of course, will be when you hit another difficult patch but choose to handle it in a way that won’t keep you up at night.

After about the fifth breakup with my boyfriend, I’m tired of fighting. I thought he was the one, but he never wanted to commit. My friends were all able to convince their guys to propose. Do you have insight into why men never want to take the plunge?
—D.C.

Just what kind of plunge are we talking? In my experience, men are as enthusiastic about toilet excavation as anyone. In fact, I find them even more likely to be educated in the full history and development of the Roto-Rooter.

Truthfully, I believe that “testosterone prevents commitment” is not a paragon of insightful thinking. When two people are on the same page about their feelings for each other and their goals in a relationship, a discrepancy in chromosomal makeup isn’t going to be a problem. There are a jillion reasons people might not mesh. But the bottom line has nothing to do with a ring or a certificate; two people are either ready to decide that above all, they want to live their lives together and they believe in the power of their love to get them there, or … not. Negotiating with someone to say “I do” seems as appealing and useful as bribing someone to get you a birthday card.

Send your mental health and emotional wellness questions to Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., at baggage@readexpress.com. This column is not a substitute for one-on-one care.

Art by Eric Reece for Express

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