Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: A married man is chasing me. I'm single. He has presented me with gifts that are inappropriate, but I am so financially strapped I have accepted them. Shame on me! The latest was an old second-hand car he just "happened to see" in his friend's garage. He paid for the insurance for one year and gave me a gas card.
I work with this man distantly: he's in another building of the same company. He tells people we are the "best of buddies," but what do you call a best buddy who phones me every day telling me how beautiful and smart I am and how much he adores me? The problem is I'm beginning to really care about him, too, but he's married with kids and is never leaving his "sweet, kind wife who hasn't done anything wrong." He married her at a very young age and is now completely bored with her. Please help. -- Falling For My Best Friend, Winnipeg
Dear Falling: This married guy on the make labels you his best friend to program work friends into thinking that's the way it is. You and he (and probably some of them) know that's not true, although you may be semi-programmed as well. Why? Because he's not letting go of his wife and needs you to know there will be no ring. Are you sleeping with him now? Are your feelings becoming coloured by his questionable generosity? You really need to get free of him.
How do you think you'd feel about him if you met his wife and children? Ask to see their pictures and ask about good things about his wife. This will start you falling out of love/lust/like with him. Let that happen. Finally, be aware that truly good guys don't cheat and they don't try to buy themselves an Other Woman. So, give back the car you didn't ask for and feel the freedom and dignity coming back. Then have a series of very frank talks with him so both of you feel the sour taste of disillusionment and you can both let go.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My husband's family has been going through a very hard time recently, as one of them recently lost a battle with cancer. The last month especially has been very stressful for everyone and I've been doing all that I know how to be supportive and loving, all while trying to keep our home and children in order while my husband spent a lot of time with his brother in his last days. I am feeling completely overwhelmed by all the stress that I've been trying so hard to take in stride. I feel like my brain is made up of hundreds of elastic bands and they are all beginning to snap, one by one. I'm feeling as though I'm breaking under the weight of it all and need some help.
I don't want to bring it up to my husband yet as he is still in the beginning stages of grief and I don't want to put more pressure on him. How do I tend to my own emotional needs without feeling like I'm being selfish? -- Snapping Bit by Bit, Winnipeg
Dear Snapping: Talk to your husband now that his brother is gone. Listen to him, but then take his hand and talk about you and the crisis that's building. It's not all about him and can't get to the point where you lose it. Does your husband really need you close by every day now? Might he enjoy a little bit of time to himself without your hovering?
Medication for your anxiety is better than "blowing a gasket" in some way -- like rocketing high blood pressure, stroking out, having a heart attack or being so emotionally and physically drained you get an illness. Aerobic exercise takes a few weeks to kick in, but it can help blow off stress. You may also need meditation, yoga, and/or a short vacation. There are many tools that can be used at once. See your doctor, spill the whole story and see what you two can come up with.