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Baggage Check: Envy among friends; timing for a breakup

Q: How can I stop being so judgmental about some friends of mine who I think are very spoiled? They are almost 27 years old, but they still live like college students, getting a lot of financial support from their parents. (One was just bought a nice condo.)

A: I’m sure some of their behavior is annoying. But you’ve got to do some soul-searching to determine why it feels so personal to you.

Are you struggling financially? Do you have issues with your own parents that make your friends’ seemingly charmed lives feel particularly painful? Or is it them – do they flaunt it? Are they spoiled or irresponsible in ways that make them bad friends?

Occasional, fleeting envy or resentment at someone’s oversized Easy Street mansion is always normal, as anyone who’s ever logged into Facebook knows. But dwelling on it can make your own negative feelings worse and is often indicative of stress or insecurity about your own life. If they’re good people overall and still well-matched to you as friends, you’d be wise to examine your own feelings and see if something deeper has been getting your goat lately.

Q: I’ve been dating this guy for almost two years, and as of a few weeks ago, was ready to seriously consider breaking up with him. And then his father was diagnosed with cancer. It feels so wrong to even consider breaking up now. But I honestly don’t see our issues getting any better. I sort of want to cut my losses but not hurt him unduly.

A: There’s no doubt that this is an excruciating situation to be in, but I think you realize that staying with him solely because of his dad’s diagnosis won’t do anyone any favors. Still, dropping an additional stress bomb isn’t helpful, either, so spend the next few weeks giving him the support he needs as the reality of the diagnosis sets in.

When the initial shock wanes, you can initiate discussions about your feelings. (This also buys you time to make sure that breaking up is what you really want.) Once the breakup is done, there’s a chance he’ll want you out of his life completely. But if he’s willing to be one of the few cases where “Let’s remain friends” actually carries some truth, you can continue to be a support for him and his family even once you’re no longer his girlfriend.

(Andrea Bonior, a Washington-area clinical psychologist, is author of “The Friendship Fix.” For more information, see drandreabonior.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @drandreabonior.)

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