Ben Claassen III (For Express)

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Q. All summer when I am out on my balcony at my apartment building, I can see right across the courtyard into another person’s apartment, and they make no attempt at privacy whatsoever. I try not to look but often it is a guy in various stages of undress watching TV. It is gross. I feel like he may even be keeping his blinds open on purpose. I want to be able to enjoy my space but my roommates say there is nothing to be done about it and we just need to look away. —Grossed Out

I’m not sure what “various stages of undress” means — I see a spectrum, from yoga pants that have never once seen a yoga class (here’s to “athleisure!”) to outright exhibitionism. Might this guy just be living his life in his own home, like he has every right to do? If it’s causing you real problems, though, it could be a matter for your apartment management. You could ask them to put out a general, apartment-wide reminder that hey, windows are transparent in both directions, or lodge a specific complaint (especially if you believe his behavior is a reaction to your presence on your balcony). But if what he’s doing falls short of criminal activity, I’m guessing that ultimately there are limits to what you can do besides crossing your fingers that he’ll use neighborly judgment to make some changes.

A friendship on the critical list?

Q. I am wondering whether to confront a friend who always says hurtful things to me under the pretense of being “helpful.” She tells me negative things that people have said about me “so that I’ll be aware.” She gives me her critical opinion on my hair and clothes even when I haven’t asked for it. She recently said she is surprised I get paid as much as I do because it doesn’t sound like I work that hard. Is a conversation worth having, or should I just let this friendship go? —Tired of It

What a friendship. Where do I sign up?

I’m glad you can see this is no way to be treated. But it makes sense to talk to her about this before pulling the plug, not just because there may be a chance at her changing (fingers crossed!) but also because we owe it to friendships to try to give feedback where we can. After one of these comments, if it is just the two of you and you are not in the middle of something, you can take a breath and make your declaration. “I know you feel like you’re being helpful, but that hurt. I feel upset by these types of comments, and you may not realize this, but I’d really rather you didn’t say them. Do you think we could try that?” She certainly sounds like she’s got a “strong” personality, but it’s worth a shot before you bid adieu.

Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at

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