Trust your instincts when forming friendships (Ellie)

Question: I’m 15, in high school, and a lot of people in my year drink and go to parties. But my own group of friends doesn’t drink. I really want to have fun but I don’t want to party with the people that do drink because I don’t really like them. But maybe I should. I just don’t know what to do.

All Confused

Answer: Be true to your own instincts and your sense of self. You’ve been naturally drawn to friends who do not flout the law and drink underage. Since they’re your friends, you already have fun with them. And there are always new things to do together that can be fun, depending on your group’s tastes, involving music, dancing, sports, gym, etc.

Of course there are always temptations, and learning to try to handle them now is a lesson that benefits forever. The kids who party hard by drinking enjoy being on the edge of trouble. And they especially like dragging others into it with them. They’re the ones most likely to think they can drive when they’ve been drinking, and who’ll experiment with other illegal substances.

You don’t like them for a reason. So partying with them would be foolish. Be comfortable with your own judgments and take care of yourself.

Question: My whole life’s been a mess — abusive parents, poverty, and conflict. I’ve been married 13 years with one child. Previously, I’d established my career and been the primary earner, yet my husband makes major decisions alone. If I object, he ignores me.

His career took off when our son was born. He expected me to care for our son, be home, and also work my long hours. I got sick and had to quit.

He’d argue about how the house wasn’t clean and I wasn’t a fit mother. Also, his family hasn’t accepted me and cause trouble. My husband has humiliated me by taking their side.

He went out after work drinking in bars. I found flirty text messages to other women. He separated his finances and spends on gifts and entertainment for others.

He planned to leave me recently but got fired and changed his mind. He has a new job, has been trying to make things work, his behaviour has improved but I cannot seem to put my walls down.

I got therapy, and we went twice together which was a disaster. I feel as if the issues that are important to me — i.e. how his family treats me, joint decision-making, and mutual respect — aren’t addressed even though things are better on the surface.

I now earn little and am frightened as to how to support myself; my self-confidence is shattered; and I have a child to consider. Should I stay or go?


Answer: You’re wearing your past as a barrier, though you’d long ago surmounted it. You achieved a lot on your own. Now things have improved in your marriage, yet you still assess it from the view of your negative background.

Remember, when you were successful, you accepted the imperfections of your husband. Only when you became insecure (with good reason) did you see those issues as destructive.

This is not the time to leave; it’s time to strengthen your self-image again. You don’t have to make lots of money to be of value, to yourself, your child, and to your husband, too.

Give your attention to the present; work with what’s going well. Therapy can still be beneficial if you use it to be positive about what you have.


When temptation beckons, your gut instincts are usually self-protective.

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