Ben Claassen III (For Express)

Q. How do you handle a friend who is constantly doing you the “favor” of buying you books, accessories and cleaning products that she “knows you will love” and yet you don’t? It’s like she is in some pyramid scheme pushing these things, only she is not selling them, she is buying them for me! I know her heart is in the right place, but it always either makes me feel like I have an assignment (like reading a book she likes) or that I’m not good enough. Thanks But No Thanks

Ah, a “Burden You Through Gifting” Gold Star member. Just be thankful she hasn’t developed an interest in hermit crabs or chinchillas!

If you know her heart is in the right place, your job is a lot easier. Tell her you love her thoughtfulness and appreciate how much she wants to share her interests with you, but that you don’t want her wasting her money. Tell her you don’t always get a chance to use the products she gives because of lack of time/existing habits/personal style/loyalty to other products/your very sporadically enforced anti-consumerism. Make it clear that you truly prefer she doesn’t do it — and if she keeps up, feel free to donate the loot.

How to deal with the doubts

Q. I have a lot invested in my seven-year relationship. We were high school sweethearts and I always pictured spending my life with him. But for the past six months or so I have doubts like I never have had before. He doesn’t seem to challenge me much, and I think he just doesn’t want as much out of life as I do. I want someone who urges me to keep improving myself. He says he could be happy staying in his (dead-end) job and living in this area for the rest of his life. The idea of this makes me claustrophobic, but the idea of starting over with someone else makes me anxious and sick. Fork in the Road

A life commitment shouldn’t spring from the fact that breaking up is hard to do (where have I heard that before?). Choosing a lifetime of moderate discomfort to avoid severe but temporary discomfort is bad math at its worst.

In the best partnerships, we don’t just love our partner, but also love the versions of ourselves that they help bring out. You’re considering letting inertia dictate the rest of your life! I’m not saying you must dump him. But you must discuss your concerns openly, and see whether he could stretch, bend, adapt or grow enough to be the partner who helps you be the person you want to be. It may take time to think through, and it might hurt, but you must talk honestly and be honest with yourself. Months’ worth of doubts are far too valuable to ignore.

Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at

Read more Baggage Check:

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