Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stick up for yourself at long last

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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm a young woman who learned at an early age to put other's needs and wants before my own. Through middle school I had many friends but they all turned sour on me and talked about me behind my back. I never once stood up for myself and just walked away. In high school it was worse.

Even now, people talk about me in front of me, and I still don't say anything! I freeze, and don't know what will come out of my mouth if I open it. I'm a nice girl who's made bad decisions, bad friendships and dug myself a hole. I have difficulty trusting others, standing up for myself, believing in my own rights, feelings and clarifying who I am as a young women.

Most of my life is going pretty well except when I meet new people, I have a tendency to end up "pleasing" them. That's probably because I know what it's like to be the most hated person. To this day, I'm remembered as that girl in high school who did this or that. I want to be more assertive. I'm tired of being a pushover. Please help! -- Big Heart, Small Voice.

Dear Small Voice: You don't speak up because you're afraid of losing a friend. But these people are not friends; they are "frenemies." Like the wolf in sheep's clothing, they pose as a new friend, and then go for the throat like an enemy.

For a time, you need to stick with a few quality friends, and to heck with the rest unless they earn your respect. Remember these guidelines: 1) The person who pushes boundaries doesn't respect others. 2) Those who always ask for favours and loans are using you. 3) People who insult you have a cruel streak and anger you probably didn't cause.

Practise assertiveness by speaking up: "That was rude and nasty!" before walking away for good. As for relatives you may love, but who treat you poorly, it's time to discipline them. Say something like: "I used to put up with that kind of talk but now that I've grown up, I don't!" Boldly suggest an apology and if it doesn't come, shrug and walk away as if to say, "It's your problem!" The family will turn to teasing and insulting someone else. Stick up for that person, too.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Most of the time you are right on. However you really blew it on bathroom privacy. What difference does it make if both partners are in the bathroom at the same time? While there is nothing erotic about using the toilet, these are normal body functions. If our bodies are only shared during intimacy, it's not much of a marriage. Our bodies belong to each other; I realize that's old-fashioned. What's not to like about showering together? Is hot-tubbing together not OK? Why are so many modern homes equipped with dual toilets, dual basins , extra-long vanities? A lot of women, including you, need to grow up and accelerate the trust factor. -- Been There, Done That

Done That: You're deliberately overstating your case. You know that the functions this shy lady did not want observed by her mate had to do with body functions, from spitting in the sink to using the toilet. Showering and hot tubbing together are often erotic things between couples, and might have been just fine with her. She just wanted the right to use the toilet facilities on her own.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 8, 2010 D4

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