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Ask Amy: Shopping addict builds mountain of merchandise

DEAR AMY: My wife is a shopaholic. She is constantly buying clothes, purses, shoes, gifts for people and things we don’t need. Our house is starting to get full of all this stuff, and I am really worried about our future.

I have tried to help by selling the things that we don’t need, but she just goes out and buys new things that we don’t need. She has a job that pays really well, but she has not saved anything. I try to confront her about her spending, but it is tough since I don’t make as much as she does.

Her family and friends treat her shopping addiction like a joke, and they encourage her by going on weekend shopping trips together. They also take advantage of her by purchasing stuff from her for almost nothing. What can I do? -- Worried Husband

DEAR WORRIED: Shopping addiction is a real and serious affliction, and it doesn’t matter if you can basically afford to blow your money; the behavior is what’s important, and based on your description, your wife is out of control. Also, like many addicts, she is surrounded by enablers, users and people who basically benefit in various ways from her affliction.

Characteristics of addiction are the inability to change one’s behavior, in spite of the negative impact it has on the addict’s life.

Your wife needs professional help, but she won’t seek help if she doesn’t acknowledge the problem. You should focus on trying to protect yourself from the realities of this. Untangle your finances in case your wife spends herself into a mountain of debt (she may have already done this, despite her high income).

You should not resell this stuff, or rent a storage locker, etc. for her hoardings. You should urge her to recognize this as a problem and seek help.

A support group such as Debtors Anonymous might help you (and her) get a handle on this. Check for information and local meetings.

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I went out for a year and a half, and then he broke up with me four months ago. Even though we are not together we continue to see each other and hook up. When he says he wants to hook up with other girls I’m okay with that, but when I come to him about guys he always finds something wrong with them.

We don’t want to be in a relationship with each other, but I feel he still cares and has feelings for me even if he doesn’t say it.

When we do hook up or spend the day together, he treats me as if I’m still his girlfriend and I love that feeling, even though I know it ends when he leaves.

I don’t know what I should do. Should I continue seeing him or end it? Should I ask him how he feels?

I’m confused about what to do. If I end what’s going on, then I will be hurt. But if I continue I will probably end up getting hurt in the end. -- Upset

DEAR UPSET: When I ponder your question I get this rushing noise in my ears and all I can think is: “Birth Control, STDs, heartache, oh my!”

Look — if you were happy with your guilt-free, attachment-free hookup holiday, I would suspend my judgment about your behavior. But you’re not happy. You are filled with anxiety. And your confidence is such that you will have sex with someone but you don’t dare to ask him how he feels?

Essentially, your question boils down to: Shall I have my pain now or later? I choose now. Because the more you delay this breakup, the more time you will spend in this unhealthy limbo, which does a number on your self-esteem, making it harder to recover.

DEAR AMY: In a recent answer, you said you had been an extra in some movies. Now I’m dying to know: What are they? -- Movie Fan

DEAR FAN: I took up space and provided human volume (that’s what extras do) in three films shot in Chicago: Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Iwo Jima,” and the holiday nonclassic “Fred Claus.”

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2014 by the Chicago Tribune

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