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Hi Tim

Advice column by Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC.


Peepers Creepers

Woman closing curtains

Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and "unusual" social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.

Hi Tim,
I’m a single guy, mid 30’s, and I live in high-rise lofts with a courtyard but my unit is in a unique and awkward position. There’s a young girl, about 20, attractive and single college student who lives across the garden from me. We see each other in passing, at the mailboxes or laundry sometimes, or say hello but never any conversation. My unit is in a corner and so close to hers that I can never open a blind or look out a window without staring directly into her place! The large shower windows are directly across from each other, along with the patio/balcony doors in the bedrooms! I’ve seen her naked several times, quite by accident because I tend to leave my blinds open to let light in, or open a window for fresh air. Of course, I run away or close them once I see her.

A few nights ago I was relaxing on my patio. Her patio doors were wide open, and she came into her bedroom, flicking the lights on wearing nothing but panties. She saw me sitting there holding my beer, in shock, and ran out of the room. Now, when I have seen her around she goes out of her way to avoid even sharing the sidewalk with me. I tried to approach her to apologize once, but she just ran off. How do I patch things up between us so I can ease her suspicion that I am lurking around spying on her? — Peeping, Tim?

Hi Peeping,
Please do not invoke my name and drag me into this debacle. The only peepers in question belong 100% to you. Also, kindly refrain from saying "my unit" so often if you tell this story in the future; especially if you tell this story to a police officer. You may also have to explain to the officer how you even know this young lady is a student or especially that she is single? Or why you chased her in the parking lot just to declare, "I am so sorry I saw you naked!" I am already a bit creeped out myself but I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt since you are writing in to me. If these observations speak to an innocent attraction you had to this young lady in the past, let me officially alert you now; game over!

There is nothing to "patch up" as you put it because there has never been a relationship and you must never contact her again. Do not risk another of these alleged chance encounters. Invest in a dark, heavy patio curtain and also some blackout shades, which at only a few bucks are much more affordable than the average bail bond and/or fractured neighborship. You keep your awkward unit covered up from now on, no matter who your neighbor is, and wait for a more secluded loft to become available.

Backgrassward

Hi Tim,
My college student daughter is a self-appointed social justice warrior. Now she's claiming to be aligning herself with the Plants Rights Movement. Seriously? I tried to look this up and only came across lunatic vegan rantings. She wants me to stop mowing our grass, and "educating" people who walk on it in the park? I think she is going to end up living there. — Backgrassward

Hi Backgrassward,
As I have become fond of saying, “Yes, it is a thing!” We actually need young folks to be more socially and ecologically aware, so the social justice movement has it merits. Some movements, however, are a bit less practical than others. Even the greenest tree-huggers tend to scoff at the grass-dodgers.

A 2008 constitutional amendment in Switzerland introduced legal protection of the dignity of plants, making offenses such as cutting roadside flowers punishable. Non-human parties, such as bodies of water and research animals are closer than ever to achieving "personhood," whereby they would have protected rights similar to those we enjoy. This trend may have more to do with affecting the financing of research and agriculture than the dignity of non-human beings. And dignity seems to be the focus for your daughter. Unfortunately, the social "grass-huggers" do not seem to have developed grassroots, as in a solid movement. If I missed an organization, please accept my apologies and let me know.

All social justice warriors, like everyone else, will have to learn to pick their battles and your daughter will, too. Grass is not likely to win because there are so many other serious injustices in the world that preclude it. Unless there is a drought or water restrictions are in effect, you have to mow what you have to mow. She may want to police the turf at the park while you do it, to avoid the silent screaming of the sward.

The Messenger

Hi Tim,
I am a guy, mid 20s. My ex-girlfriend "Beth" and I had a rocky romance for a year and her family was always in our business. They are loud, usually drunk or high and sometimes break into arguments that turn into physical altercations. We could not seem to get away from Beth's mother, father and brother, and ultimately it caused our break-up which I know is for the best. I still love her but I couldn't live with her, family or not. We aren't good for each other and I see that now. My life is so much more calm and stable and normal. But there's a secret her mother told me while she was drunk and stoned one night. Beth had passed out and her mom confided in me that Beth was adopted! Even Beth doesn't know. It was an ugly break up and I never want to contact Beth again, but do I owe it to her to share what her mother told me? — The Messenger

Hi Messenger,
On the surface this might seem really complicated and something that could torment you for years to come. Trust me, it is not. You do not have to be The Messenger, and besides over at her place that might just be enough to get you shot. First, you do not even have confirmation that this dark secret is even true, rather than merely the crude manipulations of a severely dysfunctional family member. Second, you had to sit through the show in that house of horrors for a year. Do you really want to invite an encore? Third, it simply is not your life and is none of your business. That family needs help; you are not their social worker, nor are you Beth's savior. Mind your own business and continue taking great care of yourself. Ill-gotten and unconfirmed information is not yours to fret over.


Editor’s Note: The opinions offered in this blog are the author's alone. Tim White, and any experts he may consult and/or quote in responses to letters, will never provide medical or psychological advice, diagnoses, treatment, or counseling of any kind. General advice, opinions, and suggestions may be offered with no obligation on the part of readers to accept or act upon the content published within this column. Anyone in immediate crisis and/or mental/physical distress should call 911 or related resources of assistance.

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