Woman weighs the 'ick' factor with boyfriend

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Chicago Tribune columnist Amy Dickinson and reporter Jenniffer Weigel help a caller deal with an unclear platonic relationship. Recorded live from the Chicago Tribune newsroom. March 7, 2013

Dear Amy: I recently entered into a relationship with a married man. At first I was OK with it because I believed his explanation of why he's still married — immigration purposes.

We have had some great times that are filled with activities we enjoy, including intimate relations.

As time has passed, I have learned that his marriage isn't as he described it to me. It's not so much a marriage of convenience as he said it was.

I'm worried that our relationship is icky, especially when I think about it afterward. I spend a lot of time in his home eating meals his wife has cooked for him.

I want to ask him about this point-blank, but I don't want to risk losing this guy, who happens to be very caring and attentive.

Should I walk away, ignore his texts and find someone else?

— The Other Woman

Dear Other Woman: If you can spend time at the house this man shares with his wife and eat meals she has cooked — and it only occurs to you later how "icky" this is — then I'd say you need to adjust your ick-o-meter. The idea is to be icked out by things in advance of doing them.

Your guy is a liar and a cheat. Walking away sounds like a good idea.

Dear Amy: I hate to work and always have. I have a responsible professional position, dealing with an issue I care deeply about. I work with truly wonderful people. I fulfill all of my responsibilities, but I have to force myself to do everything. The same is true for work around the house, etc.

I get it done, but I can only think of how fast I can get it over with, and how, if possible, I can avoid it. I resent expending effort. I know I must work; I feel strongly that I need to pull my own weight and contribute more, but I just hate every minute of it.

My question is: Does everyone feel this way? Does everyone have to take a deep breath and force their way through every minute of every day? I see other people who seem to enjoy what they do or at least do not resent it. What advice do you have?

— Don't Like Being Lazy

Dear Lazy: You know the saying, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life"? People (like me) who truly love their work generally look forward to doing it, even if we have to take a deep breath before starting a task. Most people don't need to deep-breathe their way through every single effort, the way you report you do just to get through the day.

My first suggestion is for you to get a full medical checkup to see if you have a thyroid (or other medical) problem that might cause you to simply have low energy. You should also be evaluated for depression. If so, treatment would literally lift the veil, give you more energy and improve your outlook.

Otherwise, thinking of tasks in small bites might help you to get started — and will also create a satisfying sense of accomplishment ("I made that phone call! Yay!"). You don't say if there is anything in the world for which you do enjoy expending effort. If so, you can use activities you enjoy (even if your activity is actually inactivity) as motivators to get through the day.

I'll run additional suggestions from readers.

Dear Amy: I loved your response to "Heartbroken Dad," a single parent raising his adopted 14-year-old son.

I especially related to the lines, "Do not expect him to express gratitude to you. His sole job is to grow up well (and that is a tough job for any child)."

I am the stepmom of a challenging 13-year-old — she has autism as well as other disorders. While parenting has many rewards, in a small part of my heart I've been hoping for a "thanks for being the mother my own mother isn't."

What you wrote put it all in perspective.

— Stepmom

Dear Stepmom: I often note that stepparents can be the real unsung heroes in a child's life. It sounds like your teen hit the jackpot.

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