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Ask Lisi: How can I help sister see her boyfriend is a jerk?

He pretends they’re not together when he’s out with his friends from university but parades her around at his new job like a trophy.
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Lisi Tesher

Dear Lisi: My sister’s boyfriend is the biggest jerk out there. He treats her like garbage. He pretends they’re not together when he’s out with his friends from university but parades her around at his new job like a trophy. My sister is magazine pretty — honey brown hair and green eyes, tall and slim, with an hourglass figure that she accentuates with her clothing.

She doesn’t know that he pretends not to have a girlfriend when with his buddies. I found out because one of my friends just started dating one of his friends. It’s totally ridiculous because my friend knows the truth. They’ve been together for four months! She told her new boyfriend, and they had an argument about it because he said it wasn’t true.

How can I help my sister see that her guy is undeserving?

Secret Sister

Yuck! He does sound like a jerk. And it doesn’t make sense to me why he would be proud of being with your sister at work but not with his friends. Your sister needs to know this about him and pointedly ask him why. It would help if you and your friend were nearby, so he doesn’t try to gaslight her. If this were a TV show, I’d direct the friend’s boyfriend to happen on the scene just at the right moment to force the truth out of the boyfriend.

I can’t think of any good excuse for his behaviour, but it’s always good to hear people out and give them the chance to explain themselves. But if he doesn’t have a good reason (other than some false bravado/machismo), I suggest she dumps him and finds someone who is proud to be her partner anywhere and everywhere.

Dear Lisi: I live in the core of downtown Toronto; I’m privileged enough to have my own apartment. I know our city lacks affordable housing and more people than ever are being pushed into precarious living situations. I work in harm reduction and am comfortable with street outreach.

For the past few months, I have observed someone living from their vehicle near my home and I have struggled with whether to approach them to see if there is anything I can offer them such as basic needs like food, water, Kleenex, a hot drink or even a new blanket.

They arrive at the same time every evening and always leave again very early in the morning. From time to time, we see each other outside of the vehicle. It’s clear the person has a day job they are going to.

The place they are parking in seems to be safe and off the radar. If I approach them and tell them I have noticed they stay in their car all night, I worry they would be too scared to return to the space they clearly feel safe parking and sleeping in every night.

It’s getting colder, and it’s hard to watch this person turn their car on periodically through the night for a bit of heat. Especially since I’m in my safe, cosy and warm apartment, watching pretty snowflakes fall as I type this. Snow must be scary to deal with when homeless. Humans are not meant to be exposed to the elements like that.

How can I help this fellow human in need? What’s best? To check in and see, or live and let be?

Observant Neighbour

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being neighbourly. You can bring them a care package and then ask if they need anything specific. You can call 311 and ask the city’s advice. You can also call the police and ask them to do a well-being check. But just know that you can’t control how the city or the police will respond.

FEEDBACK Regarding the man feeling lost and lonely after divorce (Jan. 4):

Reader – “This person will never find happiness unless he understands what went wrong in his marriage that caused his divorce. Marriage isn’t easy. Compromise and respecting each other’s differences. Understanding your anger, the subsequent reaction and how to remedy it.

“There’s an obligation to one’s children, one’s spouse and oneself to try to reconcile those differences. This person needs to talk to a professional about what happened and why, or he will repeat the same mistakes over and over.

“It just made me feel so sad that he felt so lost. No one loses their family completely unless they allow it to happen. His children will always be his children and his relationship with them will influence them all their life. Time won’t heal all without guidance. He needs to be told to get help.”

Lisi Tesher is an advice columnist based in Toronto. Send your questions to lisi@thestar.ca