Q: I don’t understand why my sister keeps getting involved with users. She’s 26, stunning, very creative, and extremely kind.
I’m 24 and have seen her bad times with guys who take advantage of her. Our family’s considered affluent and I’ve seen right through the boyfriends who imagine a free ride with her.
But she only makes a modest salary working in a fashion designer’s small business. Our father pitches in only when necessary, like when she can’t make her rent.
I thought my sister learned her lesson when the last guy she dated cheated on her and then screamed that she was a spoiled brat when she confronted him.
But now there’s a new loser hanging around. She thinks he’s great because he claims he has artistic talent (some drawings from high school, nothing since).
He never takes her out, just goes to her place at dinnertime because she’s a great cook.
How can I convince her that she needs to look for someone who makes her happy instead of just leaning on her?
A: She’s lucky to have you as her brother and needs all the encouragement you can give her about her own great qualities.
You’ve described a sensitive, giving, creative woman who doesn’t yet value herself enough to be self-protective and confident in relationships.
Spend time with her in a positive way, not focusing on the past.
Talking about the “loser and users” unfortunately reinforces any feelings of not being worthy of better treatment.
She’d benefit from individual therapy aimed at recognizing and boosting her self-worth.
She’d learn that being generously giving in a relationship must work in a mutual exchange between both partners.
When that doesn’t happen, it’s not her failure; it’s the wrong guy for her.
Encourage her to get therapy, even if it requires both of you talking to your father if she can’t afford it without his financial help.
Explain to him (and your sister) that this is a much-needed reality check on her inner fears and self-doubts.
It could be the most important turning point for her future, to become self-aware with a healthy self-image that’ll lead to positive independence.
Q: I met a good guy online a month ago. I’d faked my name and picture on my account. We began talking.
After four or five days, I told him the truth, explaining that I didn’t want anybody to discover that I’m on this dating site.
I said I’d continue talking with him on other social media.
He agreed, I deleted my original account, he sent me a new friend request and texted me. He said he’s soon returning to college and will get busy.
Then he continued to reply to me. Suddenly he stopped. I followed him on Instagram but though he was online, he didn't follow me back.
I’ve blocked him everywhere. Now I can’t study for upcoming exams. I keep checking my phone and can’t sleep.
A: Are you going to let someone you really don’t know be the cause of your doing poorly in school?
Your initial set-up of a fake account showed some self-protection. But once you got into texting with this guy, you lost all perspective, getting obsessed when you haven’t even met him.
It’s not personal; he’s busy. Or he had a girlfriend and they got back together.
Unless you were texting him constantly. It scares off many people (especially a stranger), especially if they have important goals to achieve.
This is over. Study.
Ellie’s tip of the day
Learn your own value, become self-protective, and avoid hangers-on. Therapy helps.
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Ellie Tesher is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected].
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