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Ask Amy: Hospital worker’s drinking cause for alarm

Amy Dickinson
Tribune News Service

Dear Amy: My wife and I are in our mid-30s. We have been married for 10 years.

Within the past year she has begun to hang out with an entirely new group of co-workers, who are in their 20s.

I don’t have a problem with that, but I do have a problem when these co-workers regularly bounce from one relationship to the next, and openly talk about cheating with whoever the newest doctor or resident is at the hospital where they all work.

I also have a problem with my wife coming home drunk enough to pass out on the floor two or three days a week, every single week.

She thinks I’m being unreasonable and doesn’t care to talk about any of this. I don’t know how else to approach this. Can you help? — Worried Spouse

Dear Worried: You don’t say where you live, but I’m going to assume that (between the time you wrote this and its publication) your wife’s bar-hopping has been interrupted by the pandemic.

Your wife doesn’t want to talk about this because, well, it’s human nature to avoid being confronted with your own risky behavior. And her behavior is very risky. Even without the additional factor raised by the pandemic, she is risking her health, her career, and her marriage.

Drinking to unconsciousness is a very serious danger sign. Health care workers have extremely high paced and stressful jobs. A paper published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings noted that approximately 10 percent to 12 percent of physicians are estimated to have an addiction disorder (alcoholism would be one example).

These days, many health care workers are undoubtedly feeling even more stress, and yet, their patients need and deserve to be treated by people who show up for work healthy: with adequate sleep, not hung over, and not jonesing for their next after-work drink. You should do everything possible to intervene and get your wife some desperately needed help.

Dear Amy: My boyfriend of three years has made friends with a woman in Europe (online).

They sing together on an app created to share music. That’s where they met. The songs sometimes feel intimate. It bothers me. To be fair, the songs are out there for others to join in, so it’s not as if it is entirely private.

She has now become part of his daily life. They exchange Facebook messages so often that when he clicks on “messages” she is the first person who pops up, even before me.

He says I’m overreacting, and that my thoughts “seem psycho” since she lives in Europe and is married, and we are in California.

My problem is with the constant daily interactions. She’s up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. local time in her home country, listening to his new recordings and commenting on them.

Who does that? She gets up at the crack of dawn and the first thing she does is listen to my boyfriend’s recordings, commenting on how beautiful/lovely his voice is? (Which it is, by the way.)

He says she admires his talents. I say it’s a bit more. Am I overreacting?

He says they talk about art. I trust him, but I don’t like their interactions and how all over him she is.

Help. Am I being paranoid? — Confused

Dear Confused: Your boyfriend seems to have a super-fan.

If he was performing live and the same woman came to his show, night after night — excessively fangirling him — you would both notice it, and, rather than calling you “psycho,” he would handle the fan-friendship by behaving in a way that encourages her enthusiasm but discourages an emotional involvement that is threatening to you.

Fans are centrally important to a performer, but they belong in a category where the artist encourages their enthusiasm, while discouraging an exclusive or predatory sort of relationship that would interfere with their home lives, as well as the work.

No, I don’t think you’re being paranoid. I think this fan-relationship bothers you because it has become very time consuming, seems to be growing, and because your boyfriend is encouraging it, while at the same time blaming you for following your instincts and honestly expressing your concern.

Dear Amy: “Hanging On” had a longtime partner who had terrible hygiene and lazy household habits. You focused on their unhealthy relationship, but this person needs to see a doctor! — Upset

Dear Upset: “Hanging On” has a partner who seems to have an array of problems, which had been percolating for the entire length of their 30-year relationship. I agree that she needs help.