From malaise to laziness

Joey Garcia

While we were dating, my girlfriend had a well-paying job. I work in a job I love but earn little money, so she generously paid for everything. Cool, right? Fast-forward to us living together. She hit a wall in her career, got depressed, realized she was burned out and quit her job. She decided to take two weeks off before looking for a new job. But it’s been two months without any movement. I’m drowning in bills, and she’s binge-watching Netflix in her pajamas all day. I love her, the old her, anyway, and wonder how to get that person to return.

When reality became too much, your girlfriend gave up on it and opted to immerse herself in fantasy. Does she have family or close friends she’s known a long time? If so, do they know she’s stuck in a stagnant stage in her life? It would be helpful to ask whether she’s struggled like this in the past. Her family and friends might have insights about how she was previously able to launch herself out of the abyss and into something new. Or whether she needed assistance from a medical doctor or psychologist to find her freedom.

In the meantime, continue to be the understanding partner that you are. Yes, she’s depressed, likely from overdoing. Don’t join in that suffering with your own worry. What she needs is permission to take time off. Without permission from herself, she will continue moving through days like the walking dead. Part of the problem is that we live in a culture that doesn’t value sabbaticals. And yet our souls need the freedom of extended unscheduled time off to renew, replenish and restore, without the weight of work and its relentless intensity.

You must take care of yourself during this difficult time. Start cutting back on expenses. Stay connected to supportive friends. Get outside and exercise. Don’t make the same mistake your girlfriend did—overdoing until there’s nothing left to give.

I have a friend who is always falling apart, mostly from her choices in men. Personality-wise, she’s always dating the same guy, but she never sees it and gets defensive if I point it out. Mostly I listen, make sympathetic noises and try to distract her into talking about something else. What else can I do? She doesn’t have many friends, and I don’t want to abandon her. Suggestions?

Listening is enough. You can’t save her from her habit of choosing men who fit a particular pattern. Until she no longer needs the distress of heartbreak, she will choose men who cannot love her in the way she imagines she should be loved. But by listening you will learn how people delude themselves. That means you can gain valuable skills for use in cleaning out your own house.

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year. He has never said “I love you.” Is that bad? My friends think so. But I know he loves me, he just has a hard time expressing emotions.

It’s not bad, or good. It’s just the way he is, and you’ve accepted it. Since your friends’ attitude about those three little words bothers you more than your boyfriend’s lack of using them, have some fun. Sass your friends in a sweet way the next time they use “love” casually, by claiming how much they love JacksGap or Etsy or whatever it is they fancy.

Meditation of the week
“We must learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. This is the great issue facing us today,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Can you afford to spend even one day as a fool?

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