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Q. I have lied to my boyfriend about my job since the night we met. I blurted it out in an oversimplified way and he misconstrued and I didn’t correct him, as we were drinking and I didn’t think I’d see him again. It is not fundamentally incompatible with the truth, but if he were to find out, I know he would view me differently (even if he could get over the lie). We have been together for four months and I know it is bad that I haven’t told him and will only get worse. Please give me a pep talk.
Like my desperate need to stop Googling “True Detective” spoilers, you know what you have to do. You even know why you have to do it, and what the negative effects will be if you don’t. With every week, day and nanosecond that passes, your lie grows. Your emotional intimacy is further jeopardized, and his right to be upset gets bigger. So figure out the least painful way to get over this hurdle. Sending him a text first, saying that there is a misunderstanding you need to talk with him about? Writing the whole thing in a note? Forcing yourself to blurt it out? If you’re looking for the extra boost an advice columnist can provide, here it is: I have seen these types of things absolutely kill relationships. Often. Early, apologetic honesty trumps continuing deception every time.
Every word seems to hurt
Q. My 25-year-old daughter is very sensitive, I would say oversensitive, to any sort of criticism. It makes it hard for us to have a conversation, because I fear that even the mildest of things can set her off to be hurt. I don’t think she is happy, and I think this is a symptom of it, and yet even the idea of having a conversation about how she seems to be unhappy makes me certain she will take it as a criticism. I find this to be a major obstacle keeping us from having a close mother-daughter relationship.
You don’t say how she responds. Lashing out in anger? Getting sullen? Dramatic? You can address that dynamic first in a concrete, straightforward way without some larger pronouncement about her character. “You’ve gotten quiet, and you seem upset about XYZ. I am sorry if I hurt you. I know it feels more comfortable to ignore me, but I feel confused and rather hurt myself when this happens, and I’d love to find a way that we could talk through these times better. Our relationship means so much to me.” If you can get her on board with acting on her feelings in a more functional way in the moment, then you can eventually get her on board for the meta-conversation about feelings management in general. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you to take a super hard look at the “criticisms” you are lobbing at her. (You wouldn’t be the first mom to not realize the sting of her words.)