Q. I have a friend who asks me for advice about the guys she talks to on dating sites, but then gets upset when I give it. She has me look at profiles and choose which one I think is better, but then if she disagrees, she gets upset! It’s like she wants me to confirm her choices only and has no room for my opinion otherwise. And yet she won’t stop asking. Frustrated Friend

I think you realize your friend is practically a caricature — set in her ways and wholeheartedly against listening to other people’s opinions, yet insecure enough that she needs confirmation from someone else to trust her gut.

Here’s the key to removing yourself from this circus without it getting ugly: Don’t make it seem like you’re punishing her by withholding your opinion, and don’t turn it into a power trip or some back-and-forth game. Instead, say that you’ve come to realize that what she’s really looking for is not the same thing she’s asking for. Explain that you think you’d help her most by just listening, because you’ve noticed that what she really seems to want is support rather than advice.

How do I get on the right path?

Q. I’m 36 and I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. My current career is good enough but not really what I love. Now, my partner and I are thinking about starting a family, so it is not a good time to be exploring other options. I know career counselors exist, but I feel strange going to one and not having much info to go on going in. —Lost in my Mid-30s

Your conundrum is quite common. In fact, I’d argue that skilled career counselors see people in your situation more often than they see the stereotypical recent college graduate with shined shoes and a leather résumé folder.

View your career exploration as a project to tackle, and don’t think of it as some sort of problem that says anything about you or your abilities. See the past 15 years as a tool that has helped you learn a lot, not only in your field (which you may shift away from), but about workplace environments, work-life balance and what you like and don’t like about all the nuts and bolts of your day-to-day job. Exploring ideas with a career counselor can be pretty exciting, and it need not commit you to making any big changes until you’re ready.

Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at baggage@wpost.com.

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