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Hi Tim

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


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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 woman, 27, falling madly in love with a cute, sweet guy. He’s a little on the “bad boy” side, quite different than what I’m used to, with a sleeve of tattoos and some very noticeable piercings. We’ve been dating for 10 months and we are so sexually compatible. He does have quirks, harmless like most of us have, and one is to bring a .45 automatic pistol to bed with us. Of course it’s not loaded, but he likes to do some role play with it, have me hold it to his head or vice versa and things like that. That’s all harmless fun that I don’t mind.  What bothers me is that he’s not supposed to have a gun at all. He’s on probation for his second conviction for aggravated assault and ended an 18 month sentence last year. Even though the gun is registered and belongs to his friend, just being around him with it makes me uncomfortable and not very excited. I just worry about him being caught with it. Now he’s interpreting this as rejection and not calling me for the last two weeks. Am I being too uptight?

- Gun Shy

Hi Gun Shy,

I am all for second chances. People can grow, and often with growth comes change, and outlooks improve and behavior becomes more manageable and acceptable, needs are satisfied in a healthy way, relationships flourish and the future becomes ever brighter. That said, your felon with the violent history is actually on his third chance, at least by the count of which we are aware, and he meets that challenge by possessing firearms illegally and getting off to holding them to his lover’s head while they have sex. You did not mention any children, thankfully, so maybe I can sleep tonight knowing that this affair is taking place only around two consenting adults.

I try my best never to kink shame, but this one is a deal-breaker. Folks on either side of that perennial political favorite, the gun control issue, can even agree on one thing. Guns are not toys, for sex or any other purpose, and I have to advise against bringing them to any kind of play date. A quick online search will yield for you plenty of fake props and endless other accessories to liven up whatever role play you get up to, so please just leave the real stuff locked up for basic safety. In this case, that would be back in the home of the owner and away from an ex-convict with a history of assault. But do not even waste the effort at this point. He is impulsively cutting off contact and he shows extremely poor judgment by flirting with probation violation, and his penchant for pistols does little to reassure me that, underneath all the felony assaults, he has a heart of gold. If you were ever less than 100% safe, please get tested. Literally or figuratively, you have dodged a bullet so never look back. If a “bad boy” is what you seek, you can find one that is edgy without going over the edge.

Mama Mensch

Hi Tim,

I’m a married woman in my 20’s with a 4 year old son. I recently accepted a good job that’ll really help us get back on our feet financially, but childcare is too expensive. The closest relatives we have are my in-laws who live nearby and my mother-in-law is retired. She’s offered to provide day care at no charge but I was reluctant because when she offered, she added, “I spank without apologies… my house, my rules.” She says similar things whenever the topic of her watching my son comes up. My son is very well behaved. She gets along well with him and is nice enough as a person, just a bit gruff and sometimes pushy. My husband and I never spank, and she knows this already. She’s been watching him for two weeks now without incident but I feel like we should have a talk about it. I’m getting the feeling that she will spank him eventually and then I will react strongly and we will find ourselves without childcare again. How do I keep my child safe without having to quit my great job and income?

- Mama Mensch

Hi Mama Mensch,

My child, my rules” trumps everything else. Feel free to examine and question your parenting techniques, get feedback and revise as needed, but do not let any person other than your co-parent overrule you.

Have that talk with Grandma as soon as possible. If your son’s behavior somehow becomes naughty one day, your mother-in-law is free to quit at any time. However, she cannot undermine your authority and introduce spanking simply because it is more familiar to her. If there were only one correct, effective way of doing things, especially parenting, then it would be core curriculum and everyone would be an expert. Instead, nearly everyone who is a parent thinks they are an expert, whether they studied every manual, copied their own parents or merely winged it. Keep an open mind but take your own path. She must hear this and agree to it, and she sounds reasonable enough. If for some reason she refuses to spare the rod, or cannot resist her impulses, take some of those new earnings and invest in day care or a nanny so you can go to work worry-free.

Innocent Bi-Stander

Hi Tim,

I recently came home from college for Easter and my brother did as well. I’m 23 and he’s 28. He brought a date, and I happen to know her. Well, sort of. I’m not a lesbian, but I hung out a lot at a women’s bar a couple of years ago with a lesbian couple I know. The place was so much fun, and of course we danced with each other and got crazy all over each other. So the girl in question got visibly intimate on a couple of occasions with girls in the bar, then started dating a female friend of my friend, so we were barely introduced but saw each other in passing a lot. My brother’s getting serious about her and he falls in love a bit too easily anyway. I feel like I should just give him a polite heads-up that his girlfriend likes to swing both ways. Wouldn’t that be harmless and the considerate thing to do?

- Innocent Bi-Stander

Hi Bi-Stander,

Okay I got it. You’re not a lesbian; duly noted. But you hung out in lesbian bars, ogling at girl on girl make-out sessions and bumping and grinding with salacious sensuality amid a swarm of Sapphic sisters. To another innocently heterosexual patron of that establishment, you probably looked like a lesbian. See what I did there? It is all about perception. Even if this woman might have dated another woman, that does not mean you know anything about how she identifies sexually, so mind your own business and drop the lurid suspicion.

It is a separate matter that your brother may have a history of capricious coupling, and that is a valid point for you to consider discussing with him. Rather than doubting his lady love personally, you are making your inquiry about his behavior. “Jasper, take things slow and if she is the one, she will stick around. Enjoy getting to know each other over time because when you are passionate about someone you can be really intense. Give her time to make up her own mind, too.” Forget what you know or think you know and take the time to find out why your brother is so smitten with her. You might even like her. I mean, just like her; not like like her.


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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