Something Old, Something New

Dear Stephanie,

My mother is buying my wedding gown–and wants me to buy a second-hand wedding dress. I just don’t want to. I know it is practical but it feels less fun and less special. It is the most important and special day of my life and I want to wear something that reflects that.  I know it’s just a dress but how do I handle this?

Sincerely,

I want what I want


Dear I want,

Thanks for writing in, and congrats that you have found someone that you love and they love you,  and you want to spend your life with them!! It’s pretty amazing because not all people are so lucky.

So, a second-hand dress is not what you had in mind for “something old”, is it? ; ) I  can 100% relate to you and your feeling of wanting a brand new special wedding dress of your own. I will want the same thing one day when I get married. Now aside from being happy for you, my first reaction was, “Well, you can’t make your mom pay for something she doesn’t want to.” Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could get whom ever to buy whatever for us?! If you want the brand new dress of your dreams I have a few options that I think will help you decide on how you want to proceed.

  1. You could just buy your own damn dress. Problem solved. Then you can buy exactly what you want. It won’t matter what anyone else thinks about the price, new, used or otherwise. If she feels upset about that, say that you would rather she buy your veil, shoes, or lends you your “something borrowed.”
  2. Your mom is probably a very practical women being that she wants you to buy a second-hand dress. So, I am sure she can handle a practical conversation about money. Have a discussion with her letting her know that you would much prefer a new dress not second hand because it is your special day, but that you also understand she has a budget. You could suggest that if your new dream dress falls within the budget: great! If not, then you would like to pay the difference. That is a reasonable and fair compromise.
  3. Do some research. There are some amazing places out there where you can find a brand new designer dress for only a couple hundred dollars. Check out the The Bridal Garden. I am certain they will have the dress of your dreams at the price point your mother’s dream.
  4. Finally, consider getting a second-hand dress…. I know this option is exactly what you do not want to hear, but hear me out. You will only wear the dress once. One day and never again. Right? Also, while this pains me to even say as a person working in the  fashion industry, it is still true… Who cares what you wear? (Yes, you do. I know. But hear me out) It will not make or break your marriage. It’s just a really beautiful dress that will be fun to wear but will not guarantee the success of your marriage and future happiness. Or even how fun your actual wedding day will be. So save the money and put it toward your honeymoon where you can cultivate exciting memories that you can draw on when life gets a little hard. Because let’s face it.. It always does at one point or another.

So with that, I hope you find the option that works best for you. No matter what you choose you will be radiant. It is a state of mind more than anything. I wish you a life time of happiness, joy and health with the love of your life.

 With Love,

Stephanie

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Less Money, More Problems

Hi There Everyone,

Sorry for the long pause between posts. I have taken some time for myself to enjoy my family and friends and relax a little during the holiday season. I hope you have all been able to do the same and are now ready to finish off 2017 strong and ring in 2018 on a high note.

So without further ado let me get back to giving you my solicited advice…




Dear Stephanie,

I’ve been working at a small privately owned company for about 3 years now and I have been compensated well thus far. I recently had my yearly review and felt it didn’t do justice to how my year actually went. This past year, I worked even harder and more hours than my previous years, because the company is growing and I’ve had to take on more roles than normal. Everyone in the company gets a generous bonus; but I felt my actual yearly wage increase was extremely low, and was not even close to what I got the previous year percentage wise.

I’m extremely disappointed and know I deserve more, but I’m scared to bring it up to my boss because I don’t want to be a complainer and seem ungrateful.

What should I do?

Thanks,

Overworked Under Paid


Dear Overworked ,

Thank you for writing in. This is a tricky one for me because I know in the same scenario I would be unsure of what I wanted to do and how to proceed in a professional manner but still look out for myself.

However,  my gut reaction when reading your question is that you know your worth and what you bring to the company so you should speak up and ask to meet with your boss on why you deserve a larger raise and why you were expecting one. I think that there will be two outcomes, and both positive.

  1. The best and ideal scenario – You get a bigger raise. Woohoo!!
  2. The good and positive scenario –  A constructive and informative conversation where you learn more in depth on why your review when the way it did and why you were compensated as such.

I would say the trick to achieving either of these outcomes is to go into the conversation leaving you’re feelings at the door. You need to come into the meeting prepared with facts and numbers. By that I don’t mean the number of hours you are working, but instead the quantitative results of your work in those hours. For example, you came up with and implemented a new procedure within the company that saved them X amount of dollars or you developed and brought to completion a  new product/ ad campaign/ service that brought in the company in X amount of dollars.

Do you see what I am getting at? You need as many of these relevant examples as possible to make a strong case on why you deserve X% raise over the percentage that they already offered you.

If the dollars are not available for a further increase in salary, be strong and continue to ask how you can further improve as an employee and what is needed and expected from you in order to get the raise you are looking for. Sometimes, no matter how hard we are working it is not quite the exact way your company needs you to work. Creating an open dialog in this conversation will insure you’re moving in the direction the company is going and needs you to move with them in order to get to both their and your end goals.

Now go forth an pick the right time for this conversation, when you and your boss do not have urgent matters to attend to but sometime in the near future so it is still relevant.

I would be surprised if your boss would find you ungrateful. Instead I am sure they will be impressed that you are brave enough and believe in yourself enough to get the compensation and answers you deserve.

We are all rooting for you!!

With Love,

Stephanie

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Stealing Time, Not Christmas

Dear Stephanie,

There is one thing I procrastinate on until it is just TOO late, and that is holiday gift giving. It is already too late, and I am only asking you this now! I always end up looking too late, buying things I am not the most happy with, and usually overspending. It isn’t that I dislike gift-giving, but I NEVER prepare early enough to feel like I am getting the best gifts that I could be. Any advice on how to better plan this? How to start earlier? How to feel less rushed at the last minute?

Thank you,

The Grinch


Dear Grinch,

I think this might be me writing in from the future, because I struggle with this every year without fail. I am sure I will for the foreseeable future as more people are added to my list. Adulthood! Yay! (I actually love being an adult and gift giving is the best. I’ll have to tell you sometime about the best gift I ever gave. I made not 1 but 4 people cry. 2 of the 4 criers did not even receive this awesome gift. That’s how good it was.)  So, I am not sure I can tell you how to get better at this, other than starting before Thanksgiving but who does that? I can however, tell you how to deal with it now. You have to start with an urgent plan of action.

Make a List and Check it Twice

First, make a list if you haven’t already, of all the people you need to shop for. If you know what you want to get them, note that next to the person. If you don’t know, list a few things you know they like for some inspiration. Knowing what to get someone is half the battle. Once you have this outline, you will have a day or two to think about what to get for the people you are unsure of.

Look at Your Options

There are so many places and ways to shop. As a millennial, I personally prefer shopping online. You might think that is a risky move, with shipping times and what not, but fear not. Most websites have guaranteed Christmas delivery right up to the 20th!!  You can also visit more stores in an hour online that you can in a day in person, and you will need that kind of mobility in a time like this.

My personal favorite way to shop is Amazon Prime, free 2 day shipping and the world at your finger tips. This is great for all the gifts you can buy right now. If you order today, you’ll have all your gifts by Friday. What could be better?

Get Creative

Half of the fun of gift giving is the chance to be creative. The hard part is being creative in a pinch. A creative gift option that I love is subscription boxes. There are boxes for everything from practical to exotic, and it keeps giving for as long as you choose. — Is your boyfriend is always running out of razors or never has shaving cream? Get him a subscription box. You mom loves to experience new cultures but hates to fly? Get her a subscription box. Your sister is beauty obsessed? Get her a subscription box. Your dad loves salami? Get him a subscription box.

See what I am getting at? There is a box for everyone and all of their interests. This is also a good gift if you procrastinate even further, because it can be explained better as to why it’s not there on time like “Oh, they only send at the end/beginning of the month, sooo you just wait!” As a along as you have little something for them to open you can get away with not having the “real” gift.

Anther, creative option I love in a pinch is getting people experiences. Like tickets to their favorite concert, or to something they would not normally do, like go to the rodeo or treat them to a spa day. They will love it and all you would have to do is print out the tickets or voucher. Quick and easy but a great gift you would be proud of giving.

No matter what, the old saying “It’s the thought that counts” rings true more then ever during the holiday season. Happy Holidays and Good Luck!

With Love,

Stephanie

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Dating in the Digital Age: Online Dating in 3 Steps

Dear Stephanie,

I’ve never gone out with someone I’ve met online and I am going to take the plunge. What’s the best way to go about it? I’m not really new to dating but am new to blind (sorta) dates.

Sincerely,

A Novice Swiper


Dear Novice Swiper,

I am so glad that you wrote into me with this question, because I can relate. I actually met my own wonderful and amazing boyfriend who I love very much on Tinder, of all places!! Prior to meeting him, I went on my fair share of “blind” dates ranging from really bad to really great. Online dating sometimes still seems weird and mysterious, but when you break it down it is actually just 3 simple steps.

Step 1: Picking the Right App or Website

The first step is to pick a website or app that “aligns” with what you are looking for. As I mentioned above, I used Tinder, and while it worked for me in the long run it was not the very best place to find a serious relationship, in the sense that it is regarded as a hookup app. Because of the app’s reputation and the way people were using it, I ended up meeting a lot of people who were looking for much different things than I was; and as a result I went on some pretty bad dates and wasted a lot of my time. However, when I did eventually swipe across my beloved, he really stood out to me because he was clearly looking for the same thing I was. So all that to say, in the spirit of saving time, pick an app or website that approaches dating and meeting people in a way that you relate with. No matter what you choose, I am a firm believer in “what will be, will be” and I think you will meet your person eventually and no matter what app or website you use.

Some apps and websites to see what works for you:

Step 2: Building your Profile

We all have a photo from a few years ago that we love because we look so damn cute in it!! You might think that is the BEST photo to put in your profile, but you are wrong. Even if you look largely the same, you will still look a little different. AND nothing starts a blind date off on the wrong foot like meeting someone who doesn’t look like what you expect. Unless you somehow now look better…That may sound shallow but it’s true. Everyone deserves to be attracted to their partner. The problem with dating apps and websites IS that is largely based on physical interest first. Then the more important parts of attraction and relationships follow. When you arrive at a date excited and expecting to meet one person and then you meet an older, balder and heavier version its hard not to feel a little deceived. There is nothing wrong with being older, balder or heavier just be who you are now not who you were a few years ago. So extend the same curtesy to your future dates and upload honest and real photos of yourself. I can guarantee your dates will be more fun and foster more meaningful connections, because it is already starting out truthful and there is a mutual attraction.

As for the photos you do post, be sure to show your who you are. We live in such a visual time ( which is why blogging is so hard) and people absorb so much information from photos. In your photo selection pick the photos that make you feel confident and show who you are: your personality, interests, favorite past times, sense of humor and what your idea of fun is. You are trying to paint a whole picture of who you are.

As for your bio, I went for a minimalistic approach and I had a lot of luck posting a John Belushi quote that I thought was funny and that I related to. I believe it gave anyone who came past my profile an idea of what my sense of humor is like, which was something I wanted to convey. Others like a more verbose profile where they go into detail on what they are looking for and all their likes and dislikes. That’s not a bad thing, but when I was using an app I rarely read a whole profile if it was super long. (Because we are so visual or was I just lazy?) I would just rather match and talk to the person to learn those things about them. If I were you, I would think about how much or how little I would want to read about each potential match, then base the length of your own profile on that.

Also, there are a few good apps mentioned above, that have you answer some questions and then they post the answers as your profile making it super user friendly and concise. Hinge is one of them. Check it out.

Step 3: Date Night

Look at you! You matched with someone, they seem nice, interesting and funny!! You also find them to be attractive and they appear to not be serial killers. Bonus!! So you’re excited and a little nervous about the drink you’re getting with them. Don’t be! They are in the same boat as you and certainly feel the same way. It’s human nature.  Just be yourself and try remember that while you want to make a good impression, that this is JUST a drink, or coffee or whatever. It might turn in to something or it might not. Go in with low expectations and a sense of humor because no matter what, you’ll have a story to tell, good or bad. Also, your sense of humor will help you deal with the annoying parts of dating.

Now, be prepared to repeat step 3 a few times. That’s ok and part of the process. Enjoy! Being single can be just as fun and exciting as it is to be in love and in a serious relationship. Embrace this stage of your life.

With Love,

Stephanie

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Me and My Dude. Sometimes we time travel.

Breaking PROMises

Dear Stephanie,

My 16-year-old daughter was dumped at the last minute by her boyfriend before prom after cheating on her. She had the dress and everything. Her older sister’s good friend ended up stepping in to take her, while the ex-boyfriend went with the girl he cheated on my daughter with. Late in the summer, the boy started  trying to make amends and wants  to get back together. So does she now. We’ve resisted her spending time with him and said no. Her personality even changed to being sad a lot, angry, and darker, but she and her sisters all think he is ok now, is sorry, and deserves a second chance. What do you, being young, suggest?

Sincerely,

A Momma Bear

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Dear Momma Bear,

Thanks for writing in. I really appreciate you seeking my advice on this but honestly, I am not sure at all how to approach this as a parent. I very bluntly want to say your daughters are being naive. Which is only a by product of their age. (Assuming they are all close in age.) Thank goodness they have a mom who is seeing that boy for the untrustworthy person he is.

If that were my sister I would hope that she would stay far far away from him. I’m a firm believer in forgiveness, but not everyone in every scenario deserves a second chance. Especially, in matters of the heart. Cheating, lying and public embarrassment are absolute deal breakers for me. Remind your daughters to maintain their high standards and  that even if he is truly sorry he does not deserve a second chance because what he did was too egregious. In my experience, a guy like him is only sorry and want’s to win your daughter back, because he thinks that’s what he is supposed to do. It’s a game for him.

As I said before, I don’t know what to suggest to you as for parenting advice but I don’t think you should force them apart, more than you have. Keep the boundaries that you set, but I think more than that will only push your daughter farther from you and the support of her family and into the arms of that fool. Even if they are “forbidden” to see each other, they will find a way through lying and sneaking around to be together. Which is the last thing you and your daughter needs.

In the meantime, keep talking to your daughters about how no one should settle for someone who hurts them in such a way. In these talks, be sure to make it clear that if and when it all goes south there will never be an “I told you so”, just a shoulder to cry on. It does seem like they need to learn the hard way, but hopefully they will just take your word for it.

With Love,

Stephanie

 

Working Like a Dog

Dear Stephanie,

Apologies if this is not the right way to write in. I’m having an issue at work where I’ve now basically doubled my hours. Writing in now, I’m still working on projects. ( Editor’s Note: I received this message on a Saturday at approximately 3pm.)

I’ve been asked to help out on something at work with 0 details and have basically been thrown in the shit. I didn’t mind at first, but one of the people on the account is disgustingly entitled and is so disconnected/rude that it is affecting my morale. I’ve been very transparent on how I feel, but at this point I think it is becoming something of an arms race. She knows I won’t take her shit, and she is not my boss, but seems to get more aggressive/passive aggressive as the weeks go by.

I’ve escalated but have been ignored and think I’m going to start looking for a new job because I’m honestly very angry but don’t want to hurt my team. How do I honestly approach this without looking like I’m over reacting. Am I over reacting?

Sincerely,

Unfortunately Angry

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Dear Unfortunately Angry,

Thank you for writing in. Your work situation sounds tough. I bet nearly everyone  can relate with a similar scenario. Doesn’t it always seem like the same miserable person works in every office?

First, I want to point out that you were brought on to this project because someone trusts you, needs your help and your particular skill set to get the project done. You may not have all the facts you want or need, but someone knows and believes that you will be a key player in reaching the goal. Try to remember that as a small motivator when you are in the thick of it.

I do not think you are overreacting, but I do think you’re feeling really emotional about this issue. Which I can totally relate to. I really allow myself to be defined by my career, and because of that, so much feels personal. So, when and if I am working with someone miserable and difficult, like your co-worker, I can easily end up walking away at the end of the day feeling frustrated, sad and angry at the situation. When that happens, I try to take a breath and look at what I am facing as an opportunity for success. Even if it is just the small, but personal success, that I can be proud of the work I did in less than ideal circumstances.

So plow ahead, and keep your head up. Make sure that this co-worker, has no real reason to give you a hard time because you are doing amazing work. She will just end up looking like a fool, after you prove her wrong over and over again.

In terms of looking for a new job, only you will know when the time is right  to move on. If you really love your job outside of this issue, do not let this or your co-worker push you away from something that you love.

Although, I think it might be time for you to ask for additional financial compensation if have been working this much overtime for an extended period of time, not just with this project. You are not a salve, you are an employee and they should care about you in that capacity, if they want to retain talent. Depending on their response and how you feel about it leads to my final point.

Before I left my last job for my current job I felt the same way, you mention above, in that my team needs me and I didn’t want to let them down. However, one event after another made it clear it was time for me to move on.  I realized that I deserve to enjoy my job. You and I will spend most of our adult life at work, and it should be as enjoyable as possible. So my advice is, don’t worry so much about the team, they will be ok. As important as you are, your not going to make or break the company if you leave. At the end of the day the company will be fine if you stay or go, but will you be fine? If that answer is no, start sending out your resume and meeting with headhunters. A better opportunity (more $$$) could be right around the corner.

With Love,
Stephanie

Please feel free to let me now below if you would approach this situation differently. If you liked my advice, submit a question of your own.

Home Is Where The Barn Is

Dear Stephanie,

A little back story— I am 23 years old and currently own and operate my own business at a facility that I lease. At this facility I lease about 20 acres and multiple barns but there are also 2 houses on the property that I don’t have access to.

I’ve wanted to live on the property since I started there but one house is occupied by a 99 year lease and the other is occupied by friends of my landlord. Just before it was time to renew my lease I told my landlord that I might not want to renew for another whole year if it didn’t look like I’d be able to live on property soon. In my line of work, sometimes I have to be available late at night and early in the mornings so not living on farm is less than ideal. He was understanding but I know he is friends with them so I’m skeptical about him actually bringing it up to them.

Now, the people that live in the second house are super nice and I actually like them a lot. Recently, I was making small talk with them and it came up that my business is a hard one to run without living on property but I’ve been able to make do. They replied by saying “they can live any where, and just tell them WHEN”. Well I wish I could go back and say “when” 6 months ago, and if it was polite I would’ve said “when” right that minute but I’m not sure how serious they were or if it’s even appropriate so say “when” at any point. My landlord recently said that he’s going to talk to them about moving but with his track record of dealing with things at glacial speeds I’m going to be waiting until I’m 43 for him to take any action and this is something I’d like to happen by Spring 2018. So I guess my question is, how do I go about politely asking them to move out?

Thanks,
Impatient Business Owner

https://ssequestrian.com/
Photo courtesy SS Equestrian Services

Dear Impatient,

Thank you for writing in and congrats on your success in your career, so far. It is impressive at any age to be an entrepreneur, let alone at 23! Amazing.

But let’s get to the real reason we are here….After reading your question I personally do not think it is appropriate to ask someone to move. It’s pretty rude, even if they say “Just say when”. The only person who can truly ask/make them move is your landlord. However, the next time it comes up in conversation let them know that if they really mean it, you would really appreciate it, since it would make your life easier. I do not think you should push it farther than that.

I do think you should put the pressure on your landlord. If he isn’t making the moves necessary for you to live on the property, drive a hard bargain with him. Let him know you can and will go else where, that is better for you, your business and that you will get more for your money. You could ask that he reduces the rent or maintains the same rent at each re-signing, so that it is worth your while to keep renting from him if you’re not living there. Hold him accountable to taking care of what needs fixing and to be maintained, or again, you’ll look else where. I am sure you are good tenant, and he would not want to lose your business. He might not have a huge amount to gain from you moving on to the property, but he surely has a lot that he could loose if you decided to leave. Since you are so young, I would put money on it, that he does not take you as seriously has he should.

So all that to say, I do not think you should ask your neighbors, of sorts, to move but you should make your land lord give you a good reason to stay. Even if that reason is not living on the property right now, but other perks and benefits.

I know you don’t want to wait, but one of houses will eventually be free for you to move in to. In the meantime be patient with other tenants, and hard on your landlord to get what you want or something better.

With Love,

Stephanie

To Swipe or Not To Swipe

Dear Stephanie,

I’ve just come across a friend of mine’s boyfriend on a dating app and I don’t know what to do next. All the photos/ bio info are very recent and current. They’ve been dating for a while, so I know for a fact this was updated recently.

She and I aren’t as close as we once were and I worry if I bring it up it wouldn’t be well received. Regardless, I still care about her and obviously want what is best for her.

Should I bring this to her attention or just swipe it away?

Sincerely,
🐝

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Dear🐝,

Thank you for writing in. Let’s make the bottomline the first line here: You should tell her what you saw, regardless of where your friendship stands. Us ladies have to stick together.

I know some people might argue that you are sticking your nose in somewhere it doesn’t belong, but this is the type of scenario that you have to take a second to think about what you would want if the roles were reversed? If I were your friend, and you came across such a thing, I would want to know immediately. I don’t care if we just had a giant fight, or I haven’t seen you or spoken to you in years, or we are thick as thieves. I would be thankful for the knowledge and glad that someone has my back in a time of such deception. If you were in a similar situation, what would you want?…That’s your answer.

If you end up reaching out to her about what you saw I think there can be 2 outcomes:

  1. The Worst: Her longterm boyfriend is cheating on her in a very public way.
  2. The Best: There is some agreement between them and she is aware he is out there swiping away and things are OK.

So let’s hope for the best, that she is ok, happy and aware of what his going on in her relationship; and that she is glad that she has a friend like you in her corner.

With Love,

Stephanie

If anyone else has different approach, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your point of view.

Oh, Brother!

Dear Stephanie,

My brother is 22 and, although he certainly could be doing worse, he has always been the cause of much family contention and isn’t moving in the direction he could/should be.

He recently graduated college and continued right into his MBA at the same school, with no work experience or plan of what he wants, and did not want to answer any questions my family had or take any advice on maybe waiting and getting work experience in the field he thinks he wants to work in first. Leading up to graduation, he did not put much effort into recruiting for jobs he wanted. Once he saw he wasn’t getting any job offers, he just decided to keep going to school. I’m not sure if he really thinks this will help him get a job, seeing as it was really a lack of effort on his part that resulted in him staying in school.

Grad school is not a plan he had or something he ever expressed interest in before, and he did not have a reason (that he told us, at least) for continuing school. From our experience and what many successful people have done, we all agreed it would be better to wait and perhaps have more of a plan before paying for a graduate degree. He didn’t listen to what anyone said and just signed up for the program. He is also at a temp job but not treating it like an opportunity for full-time employment.

He is living with my parents now, which in itself is not a problem, but he has never gotten along with the family very well and doesn’t help around the house, interact with my parents, or even answer their simple questions most of the time. I know it is hard on them because they want to help him out any way they can and he barely speaks to them. Even if they aren’t probing or trying to offer advice, he is unresponsive and doesn’t want to be around them.

We joke about it as a family, but I want to be able to help him out. What can I do to get him to listen, or at least want to have a semi-serious conversation? Do I leave it alone and hope he’s just a (very) late bloomer?

Sincerely,

Trying to Help a Brother Out


Dear Trying,

Thanks for writing in. To be quite frank, it sounds like your brother is self-centered and needs to grow up. He’s taking your family’s interest and your parent’s generosity for granted. It must be really frustrating when your whole family is trying to help him but all your getting is the reaction from him that you mention above. However, on the other hand a MBA is never a bad choice; even if he is going about it in an unconventional way and he is unsure of what he wants after he gets his degree. A business degree will always be applicable in any field he will eventually pursue and future employers will take notice. So, I think maybe, cut him a little slack in that area. Just because it is not the exact way you or other people would do it, does not mean it isn’t the right choice for him.

If you still want to have a serious conversation with him about his education, I would approach from the angle of helping him discover what he wants to do after school. I don’t doubt you that he didn’t put the effort into finding a job, but maybe he did not put an effort in because he has not found something that excites him and motivates him. Which, if I am being honest, IS an immature outlook, but an outlook none the less, and one that many many people subscribe to. I would try to have a low pressure, brain storming type conversation about what he likes and wants to do in life. He probably needs some inspiration, and as his sibling, who is better to help him with that? Maybe, it will help you see him in a new light too.

However, the way he is treating your family is unacceptable at his age. Sounds like he needs a real heart to heart (knock upside the head) to be reminded how lucky he is that he can live at home without contributing to the household while pursuing further education and still be a rude person and family member. If I were you, I would remind him constantly how good he has it and that he owes your parents more than a thank you. Obviously, I am no parent but I would also suggest to my own parents to give him a taste of reality. Leave him alone and don’t ask questions but since he has a job, he can pay some rent. He can cook his own meals.  He can buy his own food and he can do his own laundry… Or whatever other benefits he’s getting from living at home. This push in to a faux deep end might accelerate his delayed blooming process and help him and realize that your family has been more just roommates at a boarding house to him.

All in all, I think you should keep talking to and encouraging your brother to be a better person, family member, student and future employee. It could be like talking to a wall for years, but the optimist in me hopes one day he will get it.

With Love,

Stephanie

If anyone else has any other suggestions or a different approach, please leave a comment below.

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Helping a Sister Out

Dear Stephanie,

My sorority sister is bulimic. She came back to school this year and lost tons of weight over the summer.  Everyone is like “yeah you look great” but I think that the compliments just make her more bulimic. I don’t think she throws up every single time she eats, but definitely most of the time. Sometimes she does it when I’m in her dorm room, and she uses the in-suite restroom. She knows I can hear her. One time I tried to say something but she was just like “yeah, I have issues”, and the conversation ended there.

Honestly, I feel like she’s a really dramatic person in general and she’s always seeking some kind of attention. That might make me a bad person, I don’t know, but she clearly has an issue. Also, her boyfriend is Satan, so maybe that has something to do with it? Anyway, it’s not like we are best friends. So I don’t know if I am the best person to help her. I would if I had a solid solution but I don’t. What should I do?

Sincerely,

A Worried Sister

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Dear   Worried ,

Thank you for sending me your question. I am really sorry to hear about the different struggles that you and your sorority sister are facing. Please keep in mind I am not an expert on eating disorders, but I have done some research to make sure I am giving you the best advice that I can.

That being said, the only person who could come up with a “solid solution”  and strategy for her recovery is a medical professional. In nearly everything I read,  for a person in your position it is best that you continue to be a supportive and understanding friend. As you may know, bulimia, like other eating disorders, is some sort a coping mechanism to feel some type of control over oneself and their lives. There is something bigger going on in their life that they are trying to control through disordered eating. Since, you mention her boyfriend and that he is awful, that could be one of the reasons she is turning to this destructive behavior. His presence in her life may just exacerbate what’s already there. You might not be the first person she would turn to for comfort and advice, but let her know you are there for her if she wants to talk and continue to remind her how great she is without making any mention of her physical appearance.

When the time is right to confront her again, you could again be met with that cavalier attitude, but you also have a chance to plant a seed for recovery. Maybe, check and see if your school has eating disorder support groups? Print the info for her. Let her know what resources exist. I think that time will come sooner rather than later. I feel that she is loudly crying for help. The attention seeking that you mention and the fact that she purges with you in such close quarters, tells me she wants someone to do something with her or for her—or perhaps even confront her and ask if she wants help. When and if you confront her, do it without judgment and criticism and let her know she is not alone.

As for your peers who keep complimenting her appearance, I am sure not everyone thinks she looks amazing. More might agree with you than you think, but it also won’t help your sorority sister if you’re going around trying to rally troops of people who think she looks awful and is ill. That will do way more damage than good. As I said before, keep being a supportive and kind friend and when people are raving about her appearance, you continue to focus on what is inside. Eventually other people, with less tact, will speak up and it will be known most people think she needs help. She will need a friend in that time more than ever.

The advice that I am giving is certainly much easier said than done and would take a lot of patience and kindness to not blurt out that she should get help now, but like I said and according to the professionals’ advice,  this is the best thing you can do for her right now. Last but not least in the event of a medical emergency (if she faints, for example) call 9-1-1 right away and don’t keep any secrets about your sorority sister that could impede her treatment and recovery.

So, I hope this is helpful for you and in turn your sorority sister. If anyone else has a suggestion on how to help both of these girls even further, please leave a comment below.

With Love,

Stephanie