Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy. Send your ‘Getting Deep’ questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
My friend is 17 and says she’s in love with her boyfriend and that he loves her too. But he’s a loser. He’s even cheated on her. (She found out, but forgave him.) The thing is, they say they’re going to get married as soon as they can. And she wants me in the wedding party. I don’t think they should get married, but I don’t want to let my friend down. Help!
As much as you care about your friend, you unfortunately can’t stop her from doing what you think is a mistake. You don’t have to worry about letting her down unless you stop being honest and truthful with her—especially if she comes to you for advice or help. But you have to respect that she may not always listen to what you think is best. In the meantime, it’s up to her to make the right choice for herself. Hopefully your friend will come to see her boyfriend for who he is and will want more for herself.
My mom is an alcoholic and recently everyone found out. I told one friend and she told everyone. Now my friends treat me differently and I know they’re talking behind my back. They say their parents won’t let them sleep over and don’t even want them hanging out with me. What can I do? I’m getting punished and I didn’t do anything.
It’s unfair because this is really your mom’s issue. Unfortunately, you can’t stop your friends from talking about it. It may seem like they’re treating you differently because they may be unsure of how to act around you. And they might think they would make you feel badly by bringing up the topic.
You can walk with your head high and know that you’ve done nothing wrong. In time, this will blow over—people will stop talking about it and stop treating you differently. In the meantime, you can speak to the person who spread this gossip, and let her know how her actions have affected you.
I’ve had my best friend since we were in grade three and I’m 14 now. She’s really great in every way, except she’s gained a lot of weight in the last couple of years. I mean a lot! I love her to death, but I’m really embarrassed to be seen with her. I’ve started avoiding going places with her. I feel awful but I can’t help myself. What should I do?
Your best friend is probably having a tough time with her weight gain as well. While you both may not have spoken directly about it, I can almost guarantee that she thinks about it a lot and is affected by it. It says a lot about who you are to put aside feelings of embarrassment and just hang out and be with her. She still needs a real friend (we all do!), so it would be a shame to let her weight gain affect your relationship.
There may have been some things (e.g. family pressures, self-esteem issues) going on with your friend in the last couple of years (in addition to the obvious physiological changes already happening during this time in your lives). Based on her heredity and body type, she may struggle more with her weight than most people.
As much as you might feel embarrassed to be seen with her, you have to work at being okay with it—it says that you don’t judge people based on their appearances. Despite all of the inferences made by pop culture and the world around us, we know that in the real world, there is no such thing as the perfect person.
Talk to your best friend. If your friendship has survived for this long, chances are it will survive some honest and open communication where you can gently bring up the topic of health and offer to help her in any way. Being supportive and being her friend, even if it is hard to talk about some of the more obvious physical changes, is the most important thing you can do.
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