Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bianca Knows Best … And Says Goodbye!

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Dear readers,

As you may have read on our website (or, ahem, in that other newspaper), our dear senior editor Mary Cashiola has taken a job in Mayor A C Wharton’s office. That means your advice goddess (that would be me) will be taking on some editing duties for the Flyer’s Fly-By section. For the time being, I’ll also be maintaining my events editor duties, and that means I simply don’t have time to solve your problems anymore. I care about your problems. I really do. But you’ll have to look elsewhere for advice. I will, however, take some precious time to answer one last plea for help.

Dear Bianca,  

Admittedly, I am not "girlfriend" material. I am bipolar, and it has taken a long time to find the right combination of medications that work for me. When I get too stressed and hyper, I stop taking my meds and escape with a few bottles of alcohol.    

I have no clue why my boyfriend has stayed with me. I have put him through hell with my mental illness every day. We have been together for over two years and have lived together for a year.  

He has never been affectionate towards me, and he never compliments me on my looks. I wait for him to initiate sex because when I try, he says he is tired. We very rarely have sex. He says it's because when we do, he wants it to be special. He will only tell me he loves me if I ask him directly.  

The most disturbing part is that he spends all his time online. He gets up in the morning and goes straight to the computer. He comes home from work, goes straight to the computer, and stays online until he goes to bed. He is a member of fourteen dating websites. He goes to live cam sex sites and porn sites. He tries to hide this activity from me, but the history is on his computer. I don’t understand why he is staying with me.

— Lonely in a Relationship

Dear Lonely,

The real question is, why are you staying with him? You may have some mental health issues, but that’s no excuse for his lack of affection or his whoring around online. It sounds like he’s just not that into you, but he’s too much of a wussy to break up. Or maybe he relies on you for something, like a roof over his head or a car. Maybe he likes the comfort of knowing he can have sex whenever he wants but only when he wants. It sounds like he’s either a wimp or he’s using you, and neither is acceptable.

This situation is not fair for you, and it’s no way for you to live your life. I’m no psychiatrist, but I’d bet your happiness in the relationship has an effect on your mental well-being too.

I have no problem with people in relationships enjoying a little porn. But the fact that he’s on dating sites is really messed up. Why would he be on dating sites unless he’s cheating or planning to?

You need to ditch this guy. And then you need to work on yourself. When you say you’re not “girlfriend” material, it sounds like you’re blaming your selfish asshat boyfriend’s lack of affection on yourself. You need to spend a little time being single and learning to love yourself and all your little eccentricities.

You should also seek out help from a substance-abuse group on how to maintain your meds without turning to alcohol. Once that issue is under control, you may be ready to date again. Next time, I hope you end up with someone who actually cares about you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... Thanksgiving Edition

Posted By on Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Dear Bianca,

Every year, my husband and I go our separate ways to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families. He goes his parents’ gathering in Missouri, and I go to mine in middle Tennessee. Yet every year, his mom gets upset that I don’t ditch my family for hers.

Here’s the thing — I’m an only child with a very small family. If I don’t show up for my family’s Thanksgiving, it’ll just be my mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa. My husband has a huge family, and if anything, I feel like he should be coming with me.

When I try to explain this to his mother, she always says she understands, but my husband has told me that she continues to complain to him at the dinner table. This annual issue has made me start to resent my mother-in-law this time of year. How can I make her understand how important it is for me to show up at my family’s celebration?

— The Only Child

Dear Only Child,

I’m also an only child, and I totally understand where you are coming from. My boyfriend has a larger family, and we sometimes go our separate ways for the holidays too. I will always, always, always go to my parents' house for the holidays. I’m not budging on that. My mom makes yummy vegan food for holiday meals, and I’m pretty sure his mom wouldn’t know how to cook a Tofurky if she tried. No offense to her, but she’s just not used to cooking for my special dietary needs.

His family tends to understand when I explain that I need to go to my mom and dad’s for Thanksgiving. But even if they didn’t, that wouldn’t stop me.

There’s not much you can do beyond explaining to your mother-in-law the importance of an only child attending a small family holiday meal. Since she has such a large family, she might not understand what it’s like. Have you considered inviting your small family to her large party? If it’s not too much of a drive, maybe that could be an option.

But if you’d rather stick with your mom’s sweet potato pie, politely apologize to your mother-in-law, and don’t let her nagging your husband bother you. That’s his problem to deal with. Maybe he should tell his mother that if she doesn’t stop whining about you not attending her dinner, then next year, he’ll go with you.

You may just have to accept that this is how things are and there’s nothing you can do to change it. But try not to harbor resentment for your mother-in-law. That won’t get you anywhere.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bianca Knows Best … And Helps an On-Again, Off-Again Boyfriend

Posted By on Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Dear Bianca,

I’ve been dating this girl for about a year, off and on. Our relationship has been like a roller coaster the entire time. We break up, make up, and get back together, only to break up again a few months later.

When we fight, we hate each other. But as soon as we break up and get a little time a part, we can’t stand to be away. I don’t know anyone else with a crazy relationship like this, but it seems to work for us.

My friends have been encouraging me to find another girl and move on. They’re tired of hearing me whine every time we break up. I can understand where they’re coming from, but I really love this girl. And I think she loves me.

Is it okay to stay in this crazy relationship? Or should I pack up, move on, and try to find someone a little more stable?

-- Happy for Now

Dear Happy for Now,

It sounds like you’re not ready to leave this situation just yet. But if the pattern continues, this roller coaster of a relationship could cause serious problems in the future.

What if you two decide to get married. Say you stay together long enough to knock the lady up, but you start to fight again after the kid comes. I once knew a couple who had a similar relationship pattern of breaking up and making up, and their pre-teen daughter was often stuck right in the middle. Today, that daughter is all grown up and still dealing with her parents’ on-again, off-again drama.

It’s possible that things aren’t working out because you’re not compatible with this girl. Maybe you do love her, but the key to making a relationship work is not just love. It’s compatibility.

If, however, you’re not looking to settle down anytime soon, then staying in the relationship might work for you. If the good times are worth a few bad times here and there, go for it. But don’t expect to build a life with this lady.

Got a problem? Email Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... And Helps a Guy Who's Lost His Best Friend

Posted By on Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Dear Bianca,

My best friend and I have known each other for three years. We used to talk daily, and we'd go to the movies and have dinner with our partners. Earlier this year, my friend and his partner met another couple that they hit it off with.

Since then, it feels like my friend and I have lost the connection we had. Now I don't hear from my friend unless I call or text him. I know he and his new friends have been getting together and doing things without me and my partner, and that hurts.

I asked him if he and his partner preferred their company to ours. He said that wasn't the case and that things just happened spontaneously with them. I want to believe him, but my gut tells me he isn't telling me the truth. He always says that he's so busy between his career and his two kids. I question that because no matter how busy I am, I can still find a minute to call or text a friend just to say hello.

I don't like confrontations so I don't know if I want to pursue the issue with him anymore than I already have for fear of upsetting him and losing his friendship completely.

Should I just accept the fact that things have changed between us and leave it at that or should I pursue the issue? I hate to sound like a jealous person, but when you don't have many close friends, it feels like a slap across the face being treated this way by the only real one you thought you had.

-- Feeling Left Out

Dear Feeling Left Out,

I received the My So-Called Life box set for my birthday a few weeks ago, and I've been re-watching those old episodes over and over. Mostly because I'm still in love with Jordan Catalano, which has nothing to do with your problem.

But there is something in the pilot episode that is very relevant for you. In that episode, high school student Angela (the main character) abandons her childhood best friend Sharon in favor of the wild-and-crazy Rayanne Graff. There's a tearful scene in the girls bathroom when Sharon confronts Angela. During their conversation, the viewer thinks for a minute that the two might stand a chance at repairing their friendship. But by the time the scene is over, the viewer understands that the two have simply grown apart. It's happened to all of us, and it sucks.

You can't force your friend to stay close to you. That doesn't mean he's no longer your friend, but you may have to accept the fact that you won't be hanging out as often or talking daily.

Best friends aren't always forever, but so long as you stay on good terms, you and your former BFF can probably remain friends. He'll just lose the "best" title. I wouldn't take it personally. He might simply be really busy, like he said, but he's obviously not prioritizing you like he once did. Take that as a sign that you're growing apart. Stay in touch, but don't press the issue.

Though it hurts to lose a best friend, a new one will surely come along in due time. And cliched as it may sound, time really does heal all wounds.

Bianca will be on vacation next Tuesday, so this advice column will return in two weeks. Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps With Low Self-Esteem

Posted By on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Dear Bianca,

I recently befriended a woman with very low self-esteem. We met at a party, and though she was there with her boyfriend, she seemed all alone. He was talking with friends in another room while she sat by herself on a couch. She seemed shy and withdrawn. So I approached her to be friendly. She was quiet, as I expected, but when we really got to talking, she seemed to open up. We have a lot in common, and she seemed grateful for another woman to talk to.

Since we hit it off, we made plans to hang out again. And then again and again. That was several months ago, and now we’re close girlfriends. But after getting to know her better, I’ve realized that she really doesn’t think much of herself. I’m her only friend besides her boyfriend. He seems like a nice guy, but he doesn’t understand what’s driving her lack of self-confidence.

She’s smart, attractive, and really talented. She paints and writes music, and she’s funny when she opens up. Yet she’s constantly apologizing for her presence. Every other phrase is “I’m sorry.” But she has nothing to be sorry for. I want to help her understand her self-worth, but I don’t know where to start.

— Ego Booster

Dear Ego Booster,

You’ve already taken the first step in improving this woman’s self-confidence by befriending her. Often people with higher self-esteem are turned off by people who seem down on themselves or too eager to impress. They seem sad or desperate and most people don’t want that burden. But you’re the bigger person here. You’re willing to take some of your own time to help a fragile, broken spirit. That’s huge.

I’m no therapist, but it would seem likely that a person’s low self-esteem could be driven by past events. Maybe she was raised in a broken home with unloving parents. Maybe she suffered physical or verbal abuse from someone.

You don’t want to come out and say, “Hey, were you, like, abused or something?” That’s tacky. Hopefully, she’ll open up to you as you grow closer. Then again, she may have repressed those bad memories and never, ever want to speak of them. Let her make the decision to open up to you at her own pace.

Even if she never tells you how she got the way she is, you can still do a few simple things to help boost her self-confidence. Compliment her often but only when you mean it. Be sure to let know when you think she looks hot or when you like her artwork. Include her in group outings with your other friends. But if you have any mean friends (I know I have lots!), either ask them to stay at home or warn them to be nice. This way, she can feel like a part of a group and possibly make some friends.

Finally, when she apologizes for doing nothing, make sure you always point out that she doesn’t need to be sorry for anything. Emphasize that the only things to ever be sorry for are things you’ve done wrong, and just existing is not wrong … at least for most people (kidding!).

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Friend of a Friend

Posted By on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Dear Bianca,

One of my best friends cannot seem to get away from her jerk boyfriend. They break up at least once every three or four weeks because they simply do not get along. But then a few days later, they’re back together and she acts like he can do no wrong. This has been going on for at least six months.

At first, I was somewhat sympathetic. I’ve stayed in relationships with assholes for far too long before. I felt like that gave me no room to judge. But just last week, she canceled dinner plans with me because she was fighting with her boyfriend. She did the same thing to another friend a few days ago.

All of her girlfriends, including me, are really fed up. We don’t want to write her off, because she really needs friends right now. But at the same time, we’re tired of hearing her whine about how much of a dick her boyfriend can be, only to have her swoon over him a few days later. Is it time for us to stage an intervention?

— Annoyed Friend

Dear Annoyed,

We’ve all had at least one friend who can’t seem to get out of a doomed relationship. And while we really care about our friend, it’s easy to become a bit callous when she wants to cry on your shoulder for the umpteenth time. We know she’ll only re-establish the relationship with the same asshole that made her cry the very next day.

But she’s your friend, and you certainly can’t write her off because she makes horrible choices in men. You could try a come-to-Jesus talk/intervention, but having been in her shoes before, I’d bet she’ll probably rebel from your advice.

No woman wants to be told that she makes bad choices. She probably already knows, and she probably has some crazy notion that someday she’ll be able to tame this guy. That’s a common romantic pitfall for many women. She’ll have to learn the hard way that it doesn’t work.

It can’t hurt to mention that you and your friends are concerned about her pattern of leaving the guy, going back to him, and leaving him again, but don’t harp on it. If she rebels from your advice, she may stay with him longer than she should just to spite you. I’ve been there, done that.

You could arrange a friendly meeting between your girlfriend and some nice guys in a group setting. Maybe she needs to see that there are good available men out there. But don’t push it too far. The best advice I can give is to sit back and let your friend’s bad relationship run its course.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps an Aspiring Stripper

Posted By on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Bianca Knows Best … and Helps an Aspiring Stripper

Dear Bianca,

I’m a 22-year-old college student trying to pay my way through school. I have a horrible relationship with my mom and my dad’s been out of my life for years. So I’m pretty much on my own financially. I work a part-time retail job, and it’s just not enough. I’ve had student loans in the past, but I’d prefer not to rack up too much debt.

I have several friends who are dancers at adult nightclubs, and they make great money. They’ve been encouraging me to try it out as a way to pay for school. I’m a little shy and not completely comfortable with the idea of being naked in front of people. But if the money’s good, I can get used to it.

However, my boyfriend of two years isn’t thrilled with the idea. He doesn’t want other men seeing me half-naked (the club they work in requires the women to wear thongs). How can I convince my boyfriend that I need this job to pay for college? I certainly wouldn’t be attracted to the men I’d be dancing for. Why does this bother him so much?

— Soon-To-Be Stripper

Dear Soon-To-Be Stripper,

It sounds like your boyfriend’s jealous, which seems like a typical response for a dude whose girlfriend wants to show her ta-ta's to other men for money. But I’ve known quite a few exotic dancers in my day, and none of them had feelings for their clients. In fact, most were a little repulsed by the men who showed up at the club night after night. Those men were nothing but a payday for them, and that’s likely how you’d see them too.

You could ask your stripper friends to talk to your boyfriend about their experiences. Do any of them have long-term partners? If so, you could try arranging a meeting with their partners and your boyfriend. It may help him to hear from other men (or women) who date dancers.

But if your boyfriend just can’t get into the idea, you should evaluate what’s most important in your life. Is this a guy you plan to stay with for the long haul? If so, you should consider another career choice. If not, maybe it’s time to ditch him and do what you have do to pay the bills.

If you break up, he might even come back later when he sees that you’re not hooking up with clients after all. But he might not, so be sure that’s a risk you really want to take before jumping in.

One thing to note: The Shelby County Commission passed new regulations for local strip clubs that would require background checks for dancers and prohibit the sale of alcohol. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it wouldn’t hear an appeal by strip club owners. That makes it easier for the county to begin enforcing the new regulations soon. And that could put a serious damper on strip club business in Memphis. It might be worth waiting to see what happens with that before you make any rash decisions.

There are other ways to make money out there. You could search for other job options, or you could simply take out more student loans and hope you land a good-paying job after college.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Would-be Swinger

Posted By on Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Dear Bianca,

My wife and I have been together for about five years (married for three), and we’re looking to make things a little more interesting in the bedroom.

Before we started dating, I had been in an open relationship with another woman and my wife had been dating females. She’s bisexual and I’m open to almost anything. Since we’re both fans of women, we’ve considered bringing a third female partner into the mix.

My wife has asked me to start scoping out possibilities. She wants me to pick someone out and take her on a date before I bring her home. I think the wife is a little scared of rejection by another woman and she wants me to ask this person about being a third without her there.

Also, my wife has one request — the new woman can’t be prettier than her. I’m having a hard time with this since I know that’s a totally subjective request. What if I find someone who I don’t think is prettier but she doesn’t agree? Does this request mean my wife may not be ready for a new partner?

I’m also a little afraid to approach another woman about being a third without my wife present. What if the new lady thinks I’m just some slimeball who’s trying to cheat on his wife? Do you have any tips on how to make this process go smoother?  

— Swinger Guy

Dear Swinger Guy,

Lucky for you, it’s 2010 and we have this great thing called the Internet. It’s filled with websites aimed at helping swinging couples find potential partners.

A quick Google search will pull up plenty, and most include photos, so you and your wife can make the choice together before the face-to-face contact. This way, your wife can offer the final opinion on whether or not she thinks the new lady is prettier and you’re off the hook. Also, if you meet someone on a swinger site, you can bypass the awkward conversation you might have with someone who may or may not be into it.

Do I think that your wife’s concern about you finding a prettier female means she’s not ready? Maybe. Most women wouldn’t want their partners flirting with another woman, especially a hot one, but this could mean that your wife is worried that you might eventually leave her for the new woman. I think such feelings are probably normal for anyone new to a swinger lifestyle.

Both of you should think long and hard about the risks in opening your relationship to a new partner. If you both decide you really want to do it, go for it. It could potentially make your relationship stronger, or it could go totally wrong and destroy it. Either way, you won’t know unless you try.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Facebooker Face Reality

Posted By on Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Dear Bianca,

My 70-plus-year-old mother-in-law has discovered Facebook and she’s asked me to be her “friend.”

I prefer to keep my Facebook circle small: only close friends, preferably in my age group. I often get tagged in pictures from crazy nights out, and I sometimes post potentially-embarrassing status updates when I’m far from sober. This isn’t a problem with my current Facebook friends, who all know me and are often hanging out with me when late-night photos are taken.

I know Facebook has privacy settings, and I can block her from seeing my page. But my mother-in-law specifically asked her 28-year-old daughter not to block her when she requested her friendship. I’m afraid she’d know if I tried to block her from certain parts of my account.

Anyway, I’m not sure if she’d be more offended if I ignored her request or if accepted it and blocked her from parts of my page? Should I ignore her request altogether and make up some excuse about I only use my account for work?

— Ms. Manners

Dear Ms. Manners,

Whether or not you choose to block your mother-in-law from parts of your Facebook page is really your call, but I’d advise against ignoring her friend request.

Facebook has truly changed over years. Though it was once a social networking site for college kids, folks of all ages have come to realize that Facebook is an invaluable tool for communication. Because of this transformation, you really have to be prepared to show your Facebook page to the world. It is on the World Wide Web, right? Even though you have the capability to block friends, wouldn’t it be easier if you didn’t have to hide from certain people.

I’m not sure what’s happening in these “late night photos” you mentioned, but as long as your clothes are on and you’re not passed out drunk on a toilet, you shouldn’t really be all that concerned. If you’re referring to shots of you with a beer in your hand or pics where you’re looking a little glassy-eyed, you can easily un-tag yourself so the photos aren’t stored on your page.

As for the drunk status updates, um, well just don’t do that. I’ve certainly posted status updates from an iPhone while at a bar, but they’ve never been terribly embarrassing. If yours are embarrassing, maybe the designated driver should hold on to your phone.

You say that you keep your Facebook circle tight, but you will eventually face this same dilemma with co-workers, bosses, or other family members. If you keep your Facebook page clean, you won’t have to worry about who sees what.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bianca Knows Best … And Helps a Super-Friendly Lady

Posted on Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Dear Bianca,

I’ve worked at the same company with my best friend for two years, but she was fired three months ago after management discovered an oversight on a report. At first, she went into a deep depression and she wouldn’t speak to anyone (including me) for weeks.

But she’s since landed another job, and we’ve begun talking again. She still insists that I never bring up anything related to the company though as she still has hard feelings about her firing, which she feels was unjust.

About a month after my best friend was fired, the company hired a new lady to take her place. Although I harbored a little resentment for the new hire at first, I’ve since formed a pretty tight friendship with her. My best friend hasn’t met the new girl, and I haven’t really mentioned our friendship to her for fear that she’ll be jealous that I befriended her replacement.

I’m hosting a big cocktail party a in a few weeks, and I’d like to invite both of them since they’re two of my closest friends. But I’m afraid that could be a terrible idea. I don’t think the new friend would have a problem, but I know my best friend would be upset to meet the woman who is holding her old job. Should I invite them both and take a chance? Or should I leave the new friend off of the guest list?

— Caught in the Middle

Dear Caught in the Middle,

As the self-professed Queen of Grudge-Holding, I can totally empathize with your friend’s harbored resentment for the company that fired her. Especially if she feels that she was let go unnecessarily. If I were in her shoes, I’d probably hate not only the company that fired me, but I’d hold a grudge against my replacement even if I’d never met the person.

But that doesn’t make it right. It’s great that you were able to move past your friend’s firing to befriend her replacement. That’s very big of you, but I wouldn’t expect your best friend to do the same so quickly.

I’m a big fan of friend loyalty, and I’d advise against inviting the new girl to the cocktail party out of respect for your best friend. If she’d been fired three years ago instead of three months ago, my advice would be quite the opposite. But she’s still dealing with fresh wounds.

If you think your new work friend might find out about the party somehow (like, if you’re worried an invitee might mention it on Facebook), I’d at least let her know why you aren’t inviting her. Tell her that you’d eventually love for the two to meet, but that you’re worried it’s too soon to introduce your best friend following what happened at work.

I bet the new girl will understand. She’d probably rather stay home and avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation anyway.

All that being said, you should tell your best friend that you’ve established a friendship with the new girl at work. Let the idea grow on her before introducing the two though. Maybe they can meet at the next cocktail party.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Moochee

Posted By on Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Dear Bianca,

I have a good friend who never carries cash when we go out. She carries a debit card, but we inevitably always end up somewhere that doesn’t take cards, and she always asks to borrow cash -- $5 here, $20 there. It adds up.

She always promises to pay me back, but I can count on one hand the number of times that’s actually happened. We’ve been friends for years, and I’ve given her several hundred dollars during that time. I do make a point to ask for my money back whenever I can, but her typical excuse is that she’ll have to go to an ATM later.

She doesn’t make much money, and I’m sure that contributes to this not-paying-me-back thing. And it’s for that reason that I feel guilty even asking her for my money back.

I was always taught to be modest about money. My family has been very generous in helping me out when I needed money and never required payment back from me. I believe this may be what makes me so uncomfortable asking my friend to pay me back. But it’s starting to get old. Is there a polite way to ask her to pay up? Or should I just stop hanging out with her?

— Moneybags

Dear Moneybags,

Most of us have friends who conveniently never carry cash and always need to borrow money. Fortunately, mine’s pretty good about paying me back within 24 hours. He is a bit of a drunk though, so he sometimes needs to be reminded when he owes me for drinks from the night before.

You shouldn’t necessarily stop hanging out with your friend, but you need to put your foot down. When the two of you plan a night out, first plan a trip to the ATM. Ask your friend to get out as much money as she plans to spend and warn her that you’re not loaning her anything when she runs out.

This may hurt her feelings, but you should remind her that you’ve loaned her several hundred dollars over the years, and how you really could have used that money for bills. If you truly do need that money back, see if she'll agree to a payment plan to give you something each payday. If the owed money isn’t terribly important to you, consider writing it off and starting fresh. She may be more understanding about your “no more loans” policy if she knows she’s off the hook for the money she owes.

Friends are always more important than money, but you have to draw the line. Right now, you’re letting your friend walk all over you. Set boundaries and start over. Hopefully, this may even help her learn a thing or two about financial responsibility.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Pair of Star-Crossed Lovers

Posted By on Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Dear Bianca,

I’ve been hiding my relationship with my boyfriend for about five months now. We were together for about nine months, several years ago, until he was arrested for a white-collar crime. We split up while he served his time and stayed apart for quite awhile after his release from prison.

Now he’s a felon, and though my family previously liked him, they’ve completely turned their back on him after the arrest. My brother warned that he’d beat him up if he ever heard about my boyfriend talking to me again. My parents are also totally nonsupportive. They don’t want his record tainting our family name.

When we started dating again a few months ago, I hid the news from my family. But I really see long-term potential in this guy, and I can't hide our relationship forever. He didn’t murder anyone or sell drugs. He was just caught in a financial snafu. I’m not sure why my family continues to judge.

Should I come out and tell my family that I’m dating this guy again? Or should I continue to keep my relationship under wraps?

— Modern-day Juliet

Dear Modern-day Juliet,

The disenfranchisement of felons is a huge problem in our society. They can’t vote, can’t find work, can’t get public housing, and they’re often treated like criminals for the rest of their lives.

Most all of us have done a few things that could have gotten us jail time, but because luck was on our side, we’ve gotten away unscathed. Your family really needs to understand this. They’re part of the problem.

This means that you have a responsibility to come clean with them about your relationship. Keeping this in the closet is doing nothing to change their opinion of people with a criminal past.

Pick the family member who will be least likely to freak out and tell them first. Then you’ve got an ally when you tell everyone else. Make sure you emphasize that your boyfriend has served his time and learned his lesson. If they’re still worried about the “family name,” remind them that even Martha Stewart went to prison and she is as successful as ever.

Of course, they’ll probably be unhappy with you while they adjust, and you’ll certainly want to keep that violent brother of yours away from your boyfriend. But hopefully, they’ll all come around in due time. You can’t help whom you love, and you shouldn’t let your family determine whom you date.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... And Helps a Self-Conscious Woman

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Dear Bianca,

I've always been skinny and lanky, and I've been trying to put on a little weight for years. I just wanted to have a healthy-looking weight, but no matter how much junk food and high-calorie crap I consumed, I just couldn't seem to gain a pound.

Then all of a sudden, I developed a weird little potbelly. I'm still skinny everywhere else, just kind of pudgy around the middle. I'm 32, and I guess this is that whole "weight catching up with you" thing that happens. Unfortunately, it's very unevenly distributed.

Most of my friends are bigger than me, and always have been. When they noticed my new tummy, they all started cracking jokes about it. I think they feel entitled to tease me because I've always been so skinny, and they've always been bigger. But it really hurts my feelings. I'm pretty self-conscious about this new body.

I doubt you can give me exercise/eating tips for dealing with my new fat roll, but can you help me deal with my mean friends.

--- Skinny Fat Chick

Dear Skinny Fat Chick,

I'm sure your friends aren't trying to hurt your feelings. If you've been complaining about how you couldn't put on weight for years, they probably think you're pleased to have finally succeeded. After all, didn't you get what you asked for?

If they've always been larger than you, they probably still see you as their skinny friend, despite your added weight. You could opt to let them know that you're not comfortable with the new pot-belly. Explain that their teasing hurts your feelings, and you'd rather have their support in getting your body to its ideal look.

I'd suggest hooking up with a trainer. A professional can probably help you determine how to lose weight in some areas and add muscle to others, and he or she can offer tips on how to eat better. Eating "junk food and high-calorie crap" is probably the culprit for your protruding tummy. If you set a planned goal for yourself, you can achieve your ideal weight in no time. And then your friends will have no reason to tease.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps With an Abusive Situation

Posted By on Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 1:49 PM

I have a friend (she’s 19) who is sick and needs constant care. Her parents asked her ex-boyfriend to stay with her when they’re working, and he even spends the night there sometimes to help out. Although they’re broken up, her parents still adore him. Since they’d been broken up for some time, I thought it was okay to ask my friend’s ex to go out on a date. But he shot me down, informing me that he and my friend still have sex.

I knew my friend wasn’t really into the guy at all anymore, which is why I thought it was safe to pursue him. When he told me they were still sleeping together, I knew something was wrong. I asked my friend what was going on, and she said the ex makes her sleep with him. She also said he’d begun hitting her. She said she wasn’t supposed to tell me. I wanted to get help, but she begged me not to say anything to anyone.

A couple of days later, I was talking with her on the phone and when I asked if he’d touched her again, she said she couldn’t talk about it (because he was standing over her with his hand on her shoulder). During the conversation, she ended up locking herself in the bathroom because she was afraid of him hitting her for letting me in what was going on.

What should I do? I really want to get her some help, but I’m afraid he’ll retaliate and hurt her if they can’t prove that he’s done anything wrong. I’m also afraid her parents won’t believe the ex is capable of such abuse. If they ignore the problem, it could just get worse.

— Worried Best Friend

Dear Worried,

This is a serious situation, and you have to tell your friend’s parents about the abuse. I know you’re worried that it will get worse if the abuser finds out and the parents don’t believe you. But if you do nothing, the abuse will certainly continue.

I suspect the parents love their daughter and would do anything to protect her if they knew the guy they trusted to care for her was abusing her. Considering that she’s sick enough to need a caretaker, I would imagine they’d be extra protective.

But if they doubt your story, maybe the parents could set up hidden cameras so they can see for themselves. This could also come in handy later if the parents or your friend decide to press charges (which they most definitely should).

Once the parents know what’s going on, they can take the situation to the police and set up a restraining order against the guy.

After this is all said and done, your friend will be eternally grateful for your help. She may ask you to stay quiet now, but it’s only because she’s afraid of facing her abuser’s wrath.

Now I would normally also give you a talkin’ to about this whole trying-to-date-your-sick-friend’s-ex situation, but if you hadn’t tried to hook up with the guy, you might not have learned of his abuse. So in this case, it turned out to be a good thing. But as a general rule, don’t date friends’ exes. That’s just bad manners.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a "Spinster"

Posted By on Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Dear Bianca,

My best friend of 10 years announced over the weekend that she’s getting married. She’s been dating the same guy for several years and they’ve finally decided to take the next step.

I adore her boyfriend (now fiancee, I guess), but I’m opposed to the idea of marriage. It seems like an antiquated tradition and I’ve never been fond of bowing to convention. She’s expressed similar ideas in the past, and I always thought my BFF and I would be spinsters forever. We’re 30 now, by the way, and I realize that I’m living in some crazy single-lady fantasy world.

I want to be happy for her, but I guess I’m worried that she’ll change after she gets married. So many of our friends have gotten married over the years and they totally changed when they started having kids. What if she has kids and starts acting all lame and grown up? Who will be my drinking buddy? Am I the one who needs to grow up?

— Losing My Best Friend

Dear Losing,

I personally advocate for cohabitation over marriage, so I definitely see where you’re coming from. And I’m also a bit opposed to the idea of straight people getting married when our gay brothers and sisters are denied that same right.

But if your friend’s been with her fiancee for years, I honestly doubt she’ll change much after he puts a ring her finger. Marriage is only a symbolic gesture. It means they’ll get tax breaks, a bad-ass cake, an awesome party, and free kitchen appliances. But it doesn’t mean your friend will change.

I suspect that the friends you referenced who have changed after having kids were more affected by the added responsibility of caring for offspring. Just because your friend is tying the knot doesn’t mean she’ll be popping out babies right away ... or at all. For now, your BFF will likely remain your number one drinking buddy. It’s the pregnant ladies that can’t drink, not married ones. Remember that. If she does get knocked up later, you’ve got a reliable designated driver for at least nine months.

You have the right to live your life however you want. You don’t have to get married or have kids. But you don't have the right to dictate how your friends live. Just be happy for your best friend. And if it doesn’t work out between she and her new husband, you can say “I told you so” later.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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