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Q. Can you please, please, please tell people that not everyone likes to have their picture taken? I have certain friends that every time we do anything at all, they want to take selfies of all of us. I do not like the way I look right now (weight gain and skin issues — I’ll get over it) and do not want to be in photos, let alone plastered over social media. But they push me and make a big deal when I decline. Consider this my public service announcement. —Grumpy
OK, consider your public service done, but I’m not going to end it without giving a little advice (occupational hazard). If they keep making a big deal when you decline, I vote for a larger conversation at a different time altogether. You need not unload a therapy session’s worth of details about your feelings about how you look, if you don’t want to. But you can try to get the point across that this makes you uncomfortable and that you’d prefer it not happen anymore. No one deserves to have such a simple but meaningful request repeatedly steamrolled by people they consider friends. Hey, if it’s less annoying, could you even become the photographer?
One mother of a comment
Q. I had a terrible relationship with my alcoholic mother, who eventually left the family when I was a teenager. She was an alcoholic who had a lot of anger toward my father, who died a few years after she left. I am in my 30s settling down after many not-meaningful relationships in early adulthood. I am with a woman that I think about spending my life with. My sister, however, made a comment early on in our relationship that my girlfriend reminded her of our mother. She’s never explained how or why, and she tried to take it back. But it’s bothered me for years, and it sometimes worries me to think I would be making a mistake and just repeating the pattern I grew up with. —Bothered, VA
You’re giving your sister too much power here. That threatens to drown out your own judgment, for better or for worse. And when you’re weighing spending your life with someone, you want your own judgment — true thoughts and feelings that stem from you alone — to be loud, clear and unencumbered.
But let’s assume that your sister really meant her comment. (Which isn’t a given; perhaps it was a frustrated dig that revealed her own unrelated issues, or just an acknowledgment that your mother and girlfriend both rocked mid-length bangs.) You have to figure out what this means for you. So let’s say there are similarities between your girlfriend and your mom. What would those be? How would they affect you? How can they be managed, diminished or even embraced? What have you learned from your relationship with your mother? How can you be the person you want to be in this current relationship? These all must be answered. And if you need help, I’d recommend a therapist over a Sister’s Comment Decoder Ring.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org. She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com.
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