Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Cranky Old Man.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Dear Bianca,

I’m an older gay man who has recently gotten back into the dating scene after several years of being single. Before I was single, I’d dated the same man for 10 years. We shared a house for nine of those years. Once we broke up, I wasn’t quite ready to see other people.

As you can see, I move rather slowly with relationships. I recently met a guy online and we’ve had six dates over the past month and a half. He’s spent the night at my house twice. The last time he stayed over, he hinted at the possibility of me moving in with him!

Now I really like this guy, but there’s no way I’m moving in with him after less than two months of dating. In fact, as a 58-year-old man, I’m a little set in my ways. I can’t imagine changing my way of life to move in with anyone at this point. I’m worried that he’s getting too serious too quickly. And I honestly don’t know that I’ll ever be ready to share space with anyone again. Are my reclusive ways going to hinder my chance at love? Can’t a guy just date someone forever without moving in together?

— Cranky Old Man

Dear Cranky,

Whoa. Slow down. You say you move slowly in relationships, but it also seems you move rather quickly when it comes to freaking out. It sounds like this new guy is jumping the gun about moving in together, but just because you aren’t ready for that now doesn’t mean you’ll never be ready to share space ever again. In the immortal words of Wayne’s World’s Garth: “Live in the now, man.” (Yes, I actually just wrote that).

Have you told the guy about your concerns with moving in too quickly? If not, don’t lead him on by letting him think there’s a possibility of that happening. You should remind him that you’ve just begun dating again and you’d rather not rush into things.

Hopefully, he’ll understand. If not, then he probably wasn’t compatible with you anyway. You need to seek out others who share your need for “me” time and don’t mind living apart for a while. The last person you need is a clingy I-can’t-stand-to-be-without-you type.

That said, I bet you’ll meet another Mr. Right one day and suddenly, the idea of sharing your space won’t seem like such a threat to your way of life. Or maybe you’ll meet a guy who is just as eager to live apart. Don’t give up on love now because you’re worried about what might happen in the future.

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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Guy With a Selfish Girlfriend

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Dear Bianca,

Several months ago, I took in a friend who was having a hard time. He’d lost his job and couldn’t make his rent, so I offered my couch until he could get back on his feet. Within two weeks, he’d landed another job, and he’s been saving money to pay for a deposit on a new apartment. If all goes as planned, he says he’ll be out within a month.

Under normal circumstances, I’d be fine with him staying for another month. But my girlfriend wants to move in, and she says she’s not okay with having a couch crasher live with us. In fact, she and this friend don’t really get along at all.

I would just tell my girlfriend to wait a month before moving in, but the lease on her apartment is up in a week. I can’t really kick out my friend when he’s so close to saving up enough money to move out. He really has nowhere else to go.

My girlfriend said I have to choose. If I don’t kick the guy out, she says she’s getting an apartment with her best friend and they’re signing a year lease. I was really looking forward to sharing a place with her. Basically, I’ve got an ultimatum here: Should I kick out my couch-crashing friend for my girlfriend? Or should I stand by my couch-crasher and let my girlfriend move in with her friend?

— Confused

Dear Confused,

Your girlfriend sounds like a real ass. She can’t even deal with this couch-crashing friend for a month? She’d rather you kick your friend out in the street so she can be comfortable?

This situation is really a no-brainer. You have to put your foot down and tell your girlfriend that you’re not going to kick your friend to the curb a month before he’s able to move out. If the friend were living there indefinitely, without a job or a plan, your girlfriend might have a point.

But if this guy is so close to being on his own, she should suck it up and deal with his presence for a few weeks. It sounds like she really isn’t all that excited about moving in with you anyway. Maybe she’s using the couch-crasher guy as an excuse. Maybe she’d rather move in with her best girlfriend instead.

So long as your friend is keeping his end of the bargain (working, saving money), you have a responsibility to let him stay as long as you’d originally planned. To kick him out over a girl violates the trust between friends. And don’t forget that girlfriends may not always be around, but friends are more likely to stick by your side.

Let the girlfriend move in with her best friend, and if she’s still with you after her lease is up in a year, then maybe you two should move in together.

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps an Artist Sell Out

Posted By on Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Dear Bianca,

When I was younger, I had dreams of being a famous artist. I knew that making it in the art world was a long shot, but when you’re a kid you really believe you can do anything. So I went to art school, got a degree, and actually landed a job working in graphic design. I’m working for a nonprofit agency and the position just doesn’t pay the bills. I’ve been struggling to make ends meet in this position for about two years now. The only thing that’s kept me there is the potential to move into a higher-paying position that may come open in a few months. But that’s not guaranteed.

Now I’m almost 30, and I’m getting fed up with being poor. I have a friend who works for a large corporation and makes twice my salary. She’s informed me of an open position at her company that pays way more than I make now but would involve me doing menial labor, like answering phones and organizing papers. Not at all what I went to college for.

I’m seriously considering applying for that position, because I want to make enough money to pay off my school and credit card debt. And I’d like to be able to travel and go out to eat with friends. If I give up my art job for a corporate position, does that make me a sell-out? Should I stick with it and see if the better position becomes available at my current job?

— The Starving Artist

Dear Starving,

When I was in high school, I wanted to a beatnik poet just like Allen Ginsberg. Or at least a novelist like Jack Kerouac. I always said I didn’t care if I was a starving artist so long as I was passionate about my work.

But in college, reality kicked in and I realized that I would need a real job if I wanted to keep the lights on. So I majored in journalism because I figured that was the only career where I could still write fun stuff and receive a paycheck for doing it. I’ve always known that I’d have to pursue that novelist career on the side, and I’m sort of doing that now, although the novel has morphed into a cookbook.

All that is to say you don’t have to give up your dreams of becoming a successful artist if you decide to go for the sell-out corporate job. The possible position at the nonprofit organization doesn’t sound guaranteed, and the corporate position might not be around very long. That being the case, I’d advise you to pursue it while you can.

The plus side to selling out? Working in an environment that has nothing to do with your art will likely prevent burnout. When you arrive home from work each day, you’ll probably be ready to get creative. And maybe you could start making the art that you want to create rather than the art you were required to make in your graphic design position.

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

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

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

Posted By on Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Dear Bianca,

A few months ago, I got a little too drunk at a party and ended up sleeping with my best friend’s girlfriend. They’d been dating for about five months at the time, and I think my friend was under the impression that things were getting serious. He was really into her, but she confessed to me that she was getting bored. And then we did it.

The next day, I felt really awful about what I’d done. I called the girl, and we both swore secrecy. If we never mentioned it again, we could just pretend it never happened. But I guess guilt got the best of her, and she wound up confessing to her boyfriend. They broke up, and my friend and I got into a drunken fistfight a few nights later.

While some guy problems can be solved with a good fight, this one was the exception. After I let him punch me in the face a few times, he walked away and never spoke to me again. We haven’t talked in two months.

This guy had been my best friend since junior high school, and we made it all the way through college together. I really messed up, and I want to make things right. Has enough time passed that I can try to patch things up? Or is my friend out of my life forever?

— Friendless

Dear Friendless,

I’m a firm promoter of the “bros before hos” philosophy. And in this situation, you clearly didn’t put your bro first. Drunk or not, you should have had enough respect for your friend to keep it in your pants.

However, in a weird way, you did your friend a favor. If his girlfriend was willing to sleep with his best friend, he needed a way out of that relationship. And thanks to you, he found it. But I seriously doubt he’ll be thanking you any time soon. You are as guilty as she is, and I’m not condoning your slutty behavior.

But I think you realize that now, and you’re looking to mend the giant rip in your friendship. You’ve given the guy a couple of months to heal (and you let him punch you in the face), so I’d bet it’s probably safe to at least attempt to rekindle your long-lasting friendship.

Have you tried giving the guy a call? That’d be a great (and obvious) start. Offer a heartfelt apology, and explain how much you miss his friendship. If you’ve curbed your drinking as a result of the incident, be sure he knows that too. But don’t blame the alcohol. That’s a cop-out. Blame yourself and apologize sincerely.

That’s really all you can do. Time heals all wounds, at least theoretically, and this guy has had a little time to mend. Maybe he’ll be ready to let you patch things up, or maybe he’s the kind of dude who holds a grudge forever.

If that’s the case, you might have to find yourself a new best friend. Just don’t sleep with his girlfriend this time.

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

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Woman Move On

Posted on Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Dear Bianca,

I’ve been living with my boyfriend of 10 years for most of our relationship. We never really dug the idea of marriage, but our setup worked just fine until about a year ago.

At that time, my boyfriend lost his job due to lay-offs at the company he worked for. Since then, he’s been unable to hold down a job. He’s had a few odd jobs and restaurant gigs here and there, but he keeps quitting because he isn’t happy doing that kind of work. In that same time period, he began drinking more heavily, which has made him even lazier.

So, I’ve been stuck paying the rent and other bills for most of the past year. I don’t make a lot either, and that’s left me broke. Since he began drinking a lot, we’ve started fighting quite often. I know I should leave him, but I don’t really know how to live alone anymore. And I still love him, which complicates things. I worry that leaving him will only drive him to drink more. What should I do? — Stuck with a Drunk

Continue reading »

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps Save a Man From Alien Mutants

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Dear Bianca,

A few weeks ago, I went to the Shell in Overton Park to hear the Cowboy Junkies. I made my way up towards the front and found a small spot by the stage. I closed my eyes in remembrance of the days when beautiful young girls in flowery dresses and patchouli danced all around the stage.

But a strange dark, gaseous vibe started to entangle me. A shrill constant hum of babbling girls started up all around me — giggling, screaming, laughing out loud, gorging themselves on gourmet food.  

As I opened my eyes, I began to sense that these "things" were not human at all.  They were some kind of mutant cretins who had landed in the middle of Memphis and now were taking over.  They are oblivious to anyone around them. They seemed incapable of taking in any thing of beauty.   

The pressure of such complete implosion is what causes the dark alien psychic gas to seep out and take over the sensibilities of unknowing Memphians. Suddenly, the sound of one of the best rock bands to ever come out of Canada was awash in meaningless noise. This was their first stop on an American tour, playing in the home of rock and roll. I was embarrassed by the noise and lack of respect for these great musicians.

Am I the only one who has noticed that Memphis is secretly being taken over by an alien race of mutants? Or am I just an uptight asshole?

— Music Fan

Dear Music Fan,

Um, did you drop LSD before the show? If so, that would certainly explain the “dark alien psychic gas,” whatever that means. Unfortunately if that was the case, I’d only be able to offer you advice if I too were on acid. And I’m pretty sure my boss wouldn’t be okay with that during office hours.

For the sake of this column, I’m just going to assume that you were sober and drawing a comparison between these babbling girls and an alien race of mutants. You were trying to enjoy the Cowboy Junkies, and these annoying women were carrying on so loudly that you were distracted from the music. Right? The days of “beautiful young girls in flowery dresses and patchouli” are dead. Sorry.

I’m going to have to take the middle road on this one. I’m also highly annoyed by bubbly, obnoxious women, especially ones of the Sex in the City variety who would rather talk about shoes and men than discuss things that really matter. It sounds like these “mutant cretins” were those kind of girls.

However, I’ve also been the girl at the Levitt Shell who was more interested in her picnic and her friends than the band onstage. But when that happens, I tend to sit in the back. The diehards generally stay close to the stage, and if you’re not really at the show for the music, you shouldn’t a) take a good spot from someone who needs it or b) sit in an area where you’ll distract others when talking to your friends.

That said, there are plenty of self-absorbed folks who don’t think of others when choosing a spot at a show. The next time this happens, you might try politely asking the mutant cretin women to zip it. They probably don’t even realize they’re preventing you from hearing the music. What’s the worst that can happen? They may scoff at being told to hush and refuse to shut up. But it’s worth a try.

Or if there’s another spot available, you avoid any potential conflict and just move.

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Woman with a Gay Husband

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Dear Bianca,

My husband and I have been together for about two years, and married for the last year. We have a six-month-old daughter together. But I think he’s gay. In fact, he actually told me a few months ago that he had feelings for other dudes.

At first, I was okay with it. I thought, maybe he’s just bisexual. But since he’s confessed, we haven’t been intimate at all. He’s a good guy and a wonderful father. But I’m afraid he’s just not that into me ... or women at all.

When he confessed his secret penchant for men, he told me he’d never said those words aloud before. And he admitted that he’d never actually had any relations with a guy. Though he makes a great dad, I’d like a partner who’s into me, too. Should I leave him in search of a totally straight guy?

— The Straight Wife

Dear Straight,

Um, can we trade? I’ve been trying to turn my super-hetero boyfriend gay forever, and he’s just not having it. Well, maybe not gay per se, because then he wouldn’t like me, but at least bisexual. Oh well. You’re either born with it or you’re not, right?

In all seriousness though, it sounds like your hubby is coming to terms with his true sexuality. It’s too bad he couldn’t have realized that he was gay before he got married and fathered a child. Now you have a baby in the picture, and that certainly complicates things.

However, if your man is into men, there’s not much you can do. Cliched as though it may sound, if you love something, you really have to set it free. Though you’ve entertained the idea that he might be bisexual, the lack of intimacy is a pretty sure sign that he’s not. Your husband will probably be much happier if you let him go. You two could try an open relationship, but that can be messy and complicated. It may be best to break things off and go your separate ways.

In the long run, you’ll probably meet someone else ... hopefully someone who is totally straight. Maybe your current husband will meet the man of his dreams. If so, your child will be blessed. Kids with gay parents usually grow up accepting LGBT people in a way that unfortunately still doesn’t exist in much of mainstream society.

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Avoids Fowl Play

Posted By on Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Dear Bianca,

A couple of years ago, a new family moved in down the street from us in Cordova. So far, they have been good neighbors. They have made many improvements to the property and keep it looking neat on the outside.

However, a recent problem has arisen. It has become obvious by the crowing that I hear early in the morning that they are keeping chickens and a rooster. This violates our neighborhood covenants and possibly some local ordinance as well. To compound matters, these neighbors are immigrants whose English skills are weak at best, so communicating with them is difficult. How do you think I should handle this matter?

— Annoyed Neighbor

Dear Annoyed,

For a brief time when I was growing up, my family had a rooster and two chickens. I “rescued” them from the pet store one summer when my parents were at work. Though the ‘rents were a bit peeved to arrive home to baby chicks, the birds quickly became beloved family pets. Bonuses included the natural alarm clock and finding the occasional fresh egg in the yard.

Of course, the rooster (named Tweetie) didn’t always crow at the right time. Sometimes he’d signal the sun in the middle of the night. I’m a hard sleeper, but my dad occasionally complained. We lived on an acre of land surrounded by woods and fields, but I’m sure the rooster crowing is far more obnoxious in a tight housing community in the ‘burbs.

That said, there’s no Memphis ordinance banning chickens. According to UrbanChickens.org (a website for urban chicken owners), the Memphis city code only says that chicken feed must be kept in rat-proof containers and that the animals must not cause a noise disturbance. It sounds like the neighbors’ birds might be violating the latter law, and you’ve mentioned that your neighborhood group also has a ban on keeping fowl.

Have you taken your concern to the neighborhood association president? If not, that’d be a great first step. Whoever is in charge of enforcing neighborhood rules would then be responsible for dealing with the neighbors. Perhaps they could find a translator.

If that doesn’t work, you might try complaining to city code enforcement. I would think noise disturbances would fall under their purview. But before you complain to the authorities, consider what will happen to those chickens if they’re taken away from their owners. They’ll likely be euthanized. Is a small bit of annoyance worth taking a life over? The neighbors may be keeping the fowl for eggs with no intentions of slaughtering them.

I know my pet chickens were actually pretty smart. And believe it or not, they made great pets. My little 14-year-old heart would have been crushed if someone took my chickens away. Think before you act.

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

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Mom with a Precocious Teen

Posted By on Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Dear Bianca,

I worry that my 15-year-old daughter is growing up way too fast. Last week, I was preparing dinner when she approached me with a startling request. She asked me if I would buy her a vibrator!

I don’t think she’s sexually active yet (at least I certainly hope not), so I’m not sure why she’d ask for such a thing. I told her no, and she stormed out of the room. Now I’m worried that she may start sleeping with boys to get back at me. How can I keep her from growing up so fast? Should I give in and buy her a vibrator?

— Concerned Mother

Dear Concerned,

It’s not like your daughter asked for a pregnancy test! It’s just a harmless vibrator for god’s sake.

You may still view your daughter as your baby, but at age 15, her hormones are raging. Like it or not, many girls her age have already lost their virginity. You certainly need to sit down with your daughter and find out her level of sexual involvement.

The whole “birds and bees” talk may not be necessary in this digital age, but it’s important to let your teen know that you think having sex at age 15 is a bad idea. You should also emphasize the importance of condoms, because she’ll do what she wants anyway. Better for her to be safe than to get knocked up before her 16th birthday, right?

Though it may seem strange to you, a vibrator may actually be a great alternative for her. Vibrators can’t get you pregnant or give you an STD, and they won’t sleep with you and then disappear from your life. In fact, I’d even argue that vibrators are more practical for women of any age.

Conclusion — Emphasize to your daughter the importance of safe sex, and buy her the vibrator.

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

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Protective BFF

Posted By on Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Dear Bianca,

My best friend recently hooked up again with her ex-boyfriend. I didn’t know the guy that well when they were dating the first time, because she pretty much disappeared from our social circle after they hooked up. I do know they originally broke things off because she said he was abusive. The few times I met him, he was drunk and causing a scene in public.

Since my friend rekindled her relationship, she’s stopped hanging out with her friends again. I know a few of our friends were very outspoken about her decision to get back together with an abusive guy, and it seems she’s trying to avoid that conflict. Then again, he may be keeping her away from her friends.

I haven’t said anything to her face, but I’m angry with her for getting back with this jerk. I’m the one she came crying to last time they broke up, and I had to hear all the awful stories about how he hit her when he was drunk. I want to tell her that I think she needs to leave him for good, but I’m afraid she’ll cut me off like she has the friends who’ve spoken out.

How can I get my friend out of a bad relationship without pissing her off?

— Protective BFF

>Dear Protective,

No woman likes to hear that she’s got a crappy beau, and in most cases, it’s out of line for friends to state their opinion. However, when a woman’s safety is at stake, friends should do everything in their power to get their girlfriends away from the abuser.

Have you asked your friend why she chose to get back with an abusive man? Maybe he threatened her to get her back. It's more likely that he apologized, professed his “undying love,” and promised it’d never happen again. Either way, she needs to get away fast.

Don’t be afraid to bring up the issue. In the nicest way possible, ask her why she got back with her ex. Ask her if she’s worried that he may hit her again, and then explain your concerns. Don’t be preachy. That will push her away. Come at the issue as a concerned friend. Let her know that, for her own safety, she should consider calling breaking up with the guy.

If your friend truly believes the guy has changed his abusive ways, your mission, as her best friend, is to help her realize her own self-worth by hosting lots of fun girl time. Do activities that promote self-esteem, like taking part in something that she loves but never gives herself time for. Volunteering is also a great way to boost esteem, while helping someone else in the process. Host these self-worth-boosting girl days at least once a week, and he sure to appear supportive and not angry. Hopefully, she’ll begin to open up to you and realize that a strong, independent woman doesn’t need to spend her days with an abusive jerk.

If she’s scared to leave the man for fear that he’ll hurt her, don’t be afraid to get law enforcement involved. Restraining orders are your friend.

In the end, the decision to stay with an abuser is your friend’s choice. You can only do so much as her BFF, but your silence may be interpreted as approval, and you certainly don’t want that.

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps Facilitate a Divorce

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 3:19 PM

Dear Bianca

I married my husband in June 2008. He began to play poker online and met this woman in another state. We started having arguments because he was constantly on the Internet. We separated in August 2009, because I knew something was going on with him and his poker “friend.” I saw text messages in his phone telling her how much he loved her. I found out they started seeing each other five months after we got married.

Last fall, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and he no longer wanted to see this woman, so she got mad — and also told me everything. He’s begged me not get a divorce, but I’ve learned that he manipulates every person he comes into contact with and uses women for their money.

So I went to see a lawyer about a month ago. Now my husband refuses to pay for his part of the divorce. He won’t discuss it with me and ignores my calls and text messages regarding our divorce. He doesn't work, lives with his mom, has no bills, and draws a check every month. I have two teenage daughters by a previous marriage and their father is not consistent in paying child support. I also have a mortgage, among other bills. How do I make him pay the balance of the divorce?

— Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

Since I’m no attorney, I probably don’t "know best" on this one. I’m sure your divorce attorney is better armed with ways around this situation, since I’m sure your husband isn’t the first cheating asshole to refuse to pay his part of the divorce.

What I can offer is a little humble advice on how to convince the man to agree to divorce. He wants to be able to live the free ride at his mom’s house, sleep around, and stay married to you. Perhaps, he thinks you’ll change your mind and offer him a free ride back at your place.

The key is convincing him that you are dead serious about divorce. Rather than constantly calling and texting him about the divorce, cut off communication entirely for a few weeks. Chances are, he’s relishing in his ability to ignore you. If you stop contacting him, he loses. After several weeks have gone by, maybe he’ll see that he doesn’t need contact (not even strained contact) with you.

Even if that works, it sounds he’s going to have a hard time coming up with his half of the fee. I realize you’re strained for cash, but maybe the full balance is worth saving up for. It’s not fair that you’d have to pay the full amount, especially since he’s the cheating jerkwad. But I’m thinking you’d be a lot happier in the long run if you scraped by for a while and got this thing over with. Having this man in your life seems like a huge burden. But in this case, your lawyer — not Bianca — probably knows best.

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

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Fat Kid

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Dear Bianca,

My 10-year-old daughter has befriended another girl at school who happens to be morbidly obese. The girl has spent the night at our home a few times, and I’ve been learning about her eating habits at home.

Her mother feeds her fast food for dinner nearly every night, and we’re not talking kiddie meals. This girl’s never given anything less than super-sized meals. She’s also allowed endless junk food snacks, like chips, cookies, snack cakes, etc. Her parents, as you can imagine, are also morbidly obese.

At my house, I’ve been sneaking her healthy foods, like raw vegetables and lean protein. Though we keep some junk food in the house, I hide it when this girl comes over.

She’s told me that other kids make fun of her, and she’d like to lose weight. But as a 10-year-old, she doesn’t yet have the ability to make her own food choices at home. How can I express this to her parents without hurting their feelings, since they’re also obese?

— Worried About the Fat Kid

Dear Worried,

As a former fat kid, I think I know where your daughter’s friend is coming from. At her age, I was eating entire sticks of butter and polishing off giant bags of Cheetos in a single sitting. I also helped myself to two full dinners every night (one after school at a friend’s house and another one later at home).

I weighed over 100 pounds in the fifth grade. In fact, I weigh around the same now at age 29 as I did at age 9. However, my parents didn’t share my negative eating habits. In fact, my dad’s the one who warned me that I was getting pretty chunky. So I put myself on a healthy eating plan (with a little help from my mom).

The problem with your daughter’s friend is her parents. Talking to them directly may hurt their feelings, so maybe you should first try helping them through their daughter.

The next time she spends the night, plan a fun activity focused on healthy foods — maybe a build-your-own-salad night or healthy pizza-making (low-fat or no cheese, heavy on the veggies) session. Arm her with the information to teach her parents how she’d prefer to eat. Hopefully, they’ll take heed and buy the girl some carrots and tofu as opposed to Big Macs and French fries. As their daughter improves her eating habits, maybe the parents will follow suit.

Give that a few weeks and ask her to tell you how it's working. If the parents continue to shove trans fats down her throat, then you may need to have a come-to-Richard-Simmons talk with them. But keep the focus on their daughter’s obesity, not theirs. Calling them fat may just piss them off and cause them to rebel from any of your suggestions.

Let them know that their daughter is being made fun of at school, and share stories about how she likes to eat at your house. You could even offer to go shopping with them to assist them in making healthier choices. And don’t forget about exercise — suggest they enroll their daughter in team sports or maybe a kid-centric workout class.

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

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Needy Mom

Posted By on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Dear Bianca,

I married and had my daughter at a young age - 19 - so I never really had the experience of dating. However, I got a divorce last year after 10 years of marriage. Now I'm 30 and back on the singles market.

At first, I was thrilled to be dating. I'd go out with different guys every weekend, and I really felt like I was sowing my wild oats. But that's gotten old, and I'm ready to settle down with a nice step-dad for my daughter.

The past few relationships I've been in haven't lasted more than three months max. The last guy broke up with me in a freaking e-mail, even though we'd talked about buying a house together the week before. He suddenly became too stressed out for a relationship. It wasn't me, he said. It was him. Whatever.

Anyway, I feel like I'm at dead end and I'm getting a little desperate. I find myself falling for every guy I date, envisioning him as "the one." I know the key to finding Mr. Right is patience, but I'm running out. How can I convince myself to slow down?

- Sick of the Single Life

Dear Sick,

Your desire to settle down may very well be pushing away potential mates. You're right - patience is key. Long-term relationships often kick off when you're not really looking for one.

However, it's not going to be easy for you to simply turn off your needs. You're tired of raising your daughter alone, and you'd love to find some help as soon as possible. But you're going to have to do a little soul-searching to become comfortable being alone before you can find Mr. Right.

Force yourself to take a little time off from dating. Devote a month or two to being a single mother rather than a MILF. Participate in activities with your kid. Try to enjoy just being a mom.

It's very possible that while you're busy doing the mom thing, some nice dude will take notice. Maybe he'll ask you out. The best men tend to come along when you're not looking.

But even if that doesn't happen, taking time off from dating will help you appreciate what you have. You don't need a man to make you happy. You just think you do. When you finally do get back out there, maybe you'll be willing to take more time with relationships. Don't rush things. A needy date is a bad date.

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

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps With a Problem Roommate

Posted By on Tue, May 4, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Dear Bianca

I recently found a roommate using an online roommate-matching service. I’d never met the guy before he moved in last month. Originally, his profile sounded good. He has a job and a long-term girlfriend. But in the last couple weeks, I’ve noticed a few strange things going on.

Although he works a day job, he rarely sleeps more than two hours a night. Sometimes he doesn’t sleep at all. He locks himself in his room for hours in the evenings. In the past few days, he’s pawned his stereo, his guitar, and several other items. I’m fairly certain he’s a drug addict.

Obviously, he’s trying to hide this from me. And I wouldn’t have a problem with minding my own business, but I’m starting to worry that my belongings will soon find their way to the pawn shop. I’m also worried that he’ll soon lose his job.

How can I approach him about his problem? Should I kick him out before things get out of control? And if so, what if he decides to break in and steal my stuff in retaliation?

— The Sober One

Dear Sober One,

Not sleeping, pawning belongings, reclusiveness — those all sound like signs of a drug problem to me. I believe you may be onto something, and it’s certainly a sticky situation.

Have you talked to this guy’s girlfriend about your suspicions? Maybe she can shed some light onto the problem. Maybe he’s hiding it from her as well. There’s certainly no harm in bringing it up. She’ll either be an ally or not. If she wasn’t yet aware of a problem (like say, if the guy is just beginning to relapse), she may be appreciative for the information.

After talking with her, you might get a confirmation on your suspicions. That would help when bringing up the subject with the roommate. But either way, you must deal with this situation before it gets out of control. My best friend once had a drug-addicted roommate who ripped off all of his beloved Queer As Folk DVD sets. Though my friend knew of his roommate’s problem, he didn’t kick the guy out until it was too late.

You’re going to have to ask him to move. Tell him you’ve noticed strange behavior lately and you suspect drugs may be to blame. Offer to help him get into a rehab, and if he refuses, kick him to the curb. The problem will only get worse if you don’t act now. If things end badly, be sure to take the guy’s house key. Otherwise, your belongings will be like money in the bank for one of his future drug splurges. You might want to install bars on the windows too. My friend’s house was broken into after he finally ditched his druggie roommate, and we suspect we know who was to blame.

In the future, try screening roommates a little better, especially those whom you find online. A good online profile simply isn’t enough. Try setting up a face-to-face interview with the next guy and possibly even a drug screen.

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Suspicious Boyfriend

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Dear Bianca,

Last week, my boyfriend received a text message when he was out of the room. I heard the alert sound, so I checked it. We’ve been together for five years, so I figure I’m allowed to check his texts.

The message came from a new friend of my boyfriend’s whom I’ve yet to meet. We’re gay, by the way. Apparently, my boyfriend has struck up quite the friendship with this guy. They’ve been hanging out a lot. The message said, “Hey man, want to have a few drinks with me tonight?”

When my boyfriend entered the room, I asked about the text and then he got mad at me for looking in his phone. He insists the guy is nothing but a friend, but when I asked to come along, my boyfriend got angry and stormed out of the house.

He ended up meeting the guy without me, and now I’m worried that he might be cheating. Am I over-thinking this? What if the guy is just a friend? Now my boyfriend thinks I don’t trust him. What should I do?

— Faithful Partner

Dear Faithful,

Though its perfectly fine for gay people in relationships to have gay friends (or for straight people in relationships to have friends of the opposite sex), it’s important for partners to share those friends ... at least to some extent.

This rule especially applies to new friends who come along during the course of an established relationship. If you have old buddies from before you become involved with someone, they’re less of a threat. But if your partner starts hanging out with a new gay friend, you shouldn’t be left out of the picture.

Where did your partner meet this friend? If he’s a co-worker or a member of an organization he’s involved with, that might be less threatening than if this is some guy he met at a club or bar.

Regardless, your boyfriend shouldn’t be shutting you out. That’s highly suspicious. If there isn’t anything going on, don’t you think your partner would invite you out for drinks too? Don’t you think he’d be eager for you to meet his new friend if he was only a friend?

The fact that he got angry when you invited yourself is a red flag. Sit your partner down, and explain that you’re feeling left out. If your partner truly cares for you and isn’t cheating, he’ll understand your feelings. If he continues to turn the issue around on you to make you feel like you’re the one with trust issues, I’d say he’s probably guilty.

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

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