Q. My sister “Emily” and I live on the East Coast while our sister “Jane” lives out west, and Jane visits us several times a year and stays with Emily because she has a bigger place. Emily sometimes rents out that guest room on Airbnb and is thinking of asking Jane to pay when she stays, since it is “lost income” for Emily because she can’t rent it when Jane is there and it is often a holiday weekend. I think this is ridiculous and ungracious, so Emily says I should house Jane instead. OK, well, all I have is a futon for Jane. I don’t want Emily to even bring this up to Jane. —Stuck in the Middle
Well, Jane herself could potentially have lost wages if she’s taking time off to visit you guys, and she’s presumably buying several cross-country plane tickets each year to see you. But in most families, this is moot, as bed-lending is just a given. Trying to bean-count that is usually against the spirit of adult siblings being there for each other in good times and bad.
That said, this presumed natural reciprocity goes both ways, so let’s say Emily is in a jam with money (is she?) and it really is an undue sacrifice to host Jane. So then, helping Emily out could take many forms, from both you and Jane — yes, the futon stay is one, but so is chipping in even more with meals and groceries, or leaving her a gift card. What I wish Emily knew, though? That it’s hard to be excited about doing something like that — or even visiting at all — if it’s demanded.
Knowing when it’s time to tell
Q. At what point is it appropriate to bring up my past eating disorder in a new relationship? I have been in recovery and consider myself stable, but it still affects how I think about food and my body in pretty big ways. The guy I am seeing has no such concerns and lives to try new foods and enjoys eating until he feels overly stuffed and makes jokes about it. I am hesitant to dump this on him so soon, but I also feel like it’s a big elephant in the room, that I think very differently about this stuff than he does. —In Recovery
People often want an itinerary for bringing up certain things in a relationship. Noteworthy exes? Substance abuse issues? Money woes? An inability to use the bathroom while someone else is within a 10-mile radius? But there are of course no such right answers, since conversations among new daters should flow naturally and not unfold like a list of disclaimers on a power saw. Also, no two people are alike and no two disclosures have the same impact. A general rule is that when it feels like it’s become a “thing” (clinical term!) to have not said something yet, it’s time to say something. Seems like it here. But be proud of your history and your recovery; it’s not a shameful thing you must unload, but rather a part of you that makes you more nuanced than the next person at the buffet.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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