This is a young woman who is putting her health, even her life, at risk, so as awkward as it may be, bringing this up with her is the right thing to do. She knows she’s in trouble, but keeping this illness a secret allows her to delay the day she has to face what she’s doing to herself. Since you are not a friend or family member, it’s understandable you are uncomfortable about intruding, but the longer she goes without help, the more damage she will do. Ask her to join you one evening for a cup of tea and tell her that based on what you’ve seen and heard, you’ve become concerned that she may be bulimic. Say you know this is a private matter, but she is a lovely young woman with a wonderful future, so you want to emphasize how important it is to get treatment for this illness. Refer her to The National Eating Disorders Association. whose website has lots of information and a hotline. This guide to eating-disorder support groups is another place for her to start. It could be that she is still on her parents’ health insurance, so she can begin the search for a practitioner. When she returns to college, she can take advantage of the counseling resources there. If she seems resistant, you can call the NEDA hotline yourself and ask them if there’s anything else you can do. However she responds, when she leaves after the summer you can feel proud you broke this silence.
I often go outside my comfort zone for my wife and her sister. Whether it's joining their volleyball league or attending a ballet performance, I show interest in the things they enjoy—even if the activities aren’t my idea of a good time. The problem arises when we plan an outing to amusement parks because roller coaster rides terrify me. But my wife loves to ride roller coasters, so I face my fears. However, when we go she and her sister insist on staying the entire day. After I’ve had enough nonstop roller coaster rides I smile and say I'll catch up with them later. But on the ride home they lay into me and say I put a damper on their fun by not riding roller coasters with them the entire time. Am I in the wrong for bowing out early? We're supposed to go to an amusement park soon and I want to ask if we can just spend hours at the park instead of the entire day—but is this unreasonable?
Some people are thrill seekers. For them, feeling pressed in their seats or thrown in the air from the positive and negative G-forces induces ecstasy. In others it just causes upchucking. G-forces cause stress and strain on an object, just the way having a spouse who orders you to do things you loathe does on a person. If a roller coaster is the perfect metaphor for your marriage, your marriage is in trouble. Marriage is not supposed to be a decades-long season of Fear Factor. You are brow-beaten by your wife and her sister to do things they like, but you haven’t mentioned if your wife is willing to do any loop-the-loops to please you. You need to escape from constantly being with this tag team, and establish that for the sake of you rmarriage there are limits to how much her sister can come along for the ride. It’s not unreasonable for you to bow out entirely from a day at the park with this bullying twosome. Just give them one of your smiles and explain your idea of a thrill is a day alone with a good book.
More Dear Prudence Columns
“Cat Got Your Tongue?: A woman involved in the mysterious disappearance of a feline doesn't know whether to cover up or confess.” Posted July 21, 2011.
“Almost Famous: My rock-star ex wants his sexy photos back. Should I relent or play hardball?” Posted July 14, 2011.
“An Innocent Man: An ex-girlfriend falsely claimed I raped her. How do I reveal this hurtful incident to future love interests?” Posted July 7, 2011.
“A View to a Thrill: Neighbor boys peep at my scantily clad daughters. Should I have them cover up?” Posted June 30, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“Confronting the Queen Bees: Dear Prudence advises a teen who longs to stand up to her cruel classmates but fears retaliation.” Posted July 25, 2011.
“Bozo Boyfriend's Nose-Job Nightmare: Dear Prudence advises a man who convinced his girlfriend to have plastic surgery that left her disfigured.” Posted July 18, 2011.
“Should a Former Hottie Burn the Evidence?: Dear Prudence advises a woman whose ex-husband took nudie pictures of her and still has them.” Posted July 11, 2011.
“Boyfriend Is Thick as a Brick: Dear Prudence advises a woman who is reluctant to wed her dim-bulb suitor.” Posted July 5, 2011.