Sangita Patel is Streets of Toronto’s new advice columnist and is an entertainment reporter with ET Canada. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters.
Dear Sangita: My friend is obsessed with her dog, and it’s getting to be too much. She invites us all to her dog’s birthday parties, and she often will turn down invites from us because she “needs” to stay with her dog. I’ve spent a lot of money on gifts for this dog and I’m tired of it. Am I being unfair? — Fed up with the pup
Dear Fed Up: Perhaps your friend isn’t married with kids, so that dog might get all her attention. A lot of people do say their dog is their child! So I think that’s where she’s going with this. If she doesn’t have any of those other things in her life, her world is centred around this dog, which happens a lot. Maybe it’s a bit extreme to have birthday parties and buy gifts, and I do know people who don’t go places because they have to take care of their dogs. You should recommend to your friend, just like someone who has a kid, that she can get a babysitter for her dog. Maybe it’s time for her to step out of her house and hang out with her friends. I get that love she has for her dog, and I wouldn’t say this is obsession — it’s more that this is her child, and she wants to take care of her dog, and this is how she knows how to do it. At the same time, gifts are a bit extreme. I think your friend needs to learn how to treat her dog like any other kid. You have to learn how to say, “I have to go out, so I’ll get a babysitter.”
Dear Sangita: My girlfriend has a much higher-paying job than me, and we’ve talked about how, when we have kids, I’ll want to stay home with them and she’ll want to continue working. We mentioned this to some of our friends and now my friends won’t stop making fun of me for it. I’m trying not to let that make me insecure about my decision, but I’m upset they would be so old-fashioned about this. Am I stupid for feeling angry at my friends over this hypothetical scenario? — Future stay-at-home-dad blues
Dear Future SAHD: Get new friends! You shouldn’t even have to justify this to them; it all comes down to who makes more income, and if you’re happy to be at home. The fact that you want to step up in this way says so much about who you are as a person and the respect you have for your girlfriend and her job and respect you have for your relationship. If they’re teasing you, that’s not OK, and that needs to stop.
When you’re teased or you’re picked on, you question yourself and your decision. It’s unfortunate that it’s your friends who did that to you. But in this case, I think you have the higher power that you made this decision on your own and are happy about it. There should be no insecurities around this. At the end of the day, if the bills are getting paid and you’re raising a child in a happy home that’s all that matters. And once you have a kid, none of this will matter. I know what’s going to happen, and it’s what happened with our friends — some of your friends will go down to your house to chill with you and your baby. You become that person they can rely on even more because you’re home with the kids, and they’ll learn from you about how to raise a child. You can explain that to your friends. And I believe that once you have your child that teasing will completely stop.
Dear Sangita: What do I say to my best friend who still wants to be friends with her jerky ex-boyfriend? — Distressed by the ex
Dear Distressed: The impression I’m getting here is that she’s holding on to him and she hasn’t let go of that relationship, and maybe still wants to be friends with him. There might be some kind of hold he has on her which is not mentally great for her.
I think she needs to acknowledge that. As her friend, you can ask her, “Why are you doing this?” And help her acknowledge that perhaps she wants to stay friends because she still wants to be with him, or figure out if there is something more toxic involved. If she still wants to be friends with him, she has to clear that up and be able to move on first. Only if she is able to detach herself emotionally from this person can she really be friends with this person.
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