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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018
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Dear Fifi: I snooped in my new beau's glove box... and I didn't like what I found

The first advice column from DailyEdge.ie’s new resident agony aunt, Dear Fifi.

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NO PROBLEM TOO small, no question too big.

My name is Fiona Hyde and that’s my motto. Welcome to Dear Fifi, DailyEdge.ie’s new weekly advice column.

Sometimes we’re simply too close to our own stories to get perspective. That’s where I come in. As resident advice columnist, I’ll endeavour to give you new insight into your issues while also (fingers crossed) entertaining you along the way.

I can promise you a new set of eyes and ears on your issues, but I can’t promise you’ll always agree with me. That’s what the comments and social media are for. That said, please keep it respectful and constructive. Remember that the letter-writer may be reading. Be sound or sling your hook.

The old adage goes that a problem shared is a problem halved. So imagine how small your problems will be once they’re broadcast all over my column… Let’s get started!

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Dear Fifi,

I’m seeing a guy and the last night I was with him, we stopped off to get petrol. When he went into pay, I had a snoop around and looked in the glove compartment. I found some tablets with his name on them and wrote the name down on my phone. The next day I googled ‘What does Nalorex treat?’ I got such a shock… I don’t know what to do. A part of me wants to help him but a part of me wants to run as we’re not that close yet.

I feel I’ll say this more than once during Dear Fifi’s run: Never go looking, because you won’t like what you find.

What I find most troubling about your letter, first and foremost, is the casual references to a major invasion of privacy – seemingly without any self-awareness. Not only did you deliberately snoop in this man’s glove box the moment he left you unattended, but you wrote down the details of his prescription medication – even taking the time to ensure it was indeed filled out for him – for some light at-home follow-up snooping.

That’s snooping on a frankly unprecedented level! We’re talking big kahuna snooping. Please take off your Jessica Fletcher cosplay outfit long enough to unpack what that could mean.

This isn’t rifling through his fridge or flicking through his magazine rack. It was a wilful invasion and investigation into something private. Why didn’t you just ask him when he got back into the car what the meds were for? Why did you decide to don your Sherlock deerstalker instead? Is this kind of behaviour, presumably based in insecurity or destructive curiosity, a pattern for you in past relationships? You have some questions to answer yourself here, I reckon.

For those of you who think I’m burying the lede here on what exactly the medication is for… Well, I guess I am. It treats addiction issues.

With this in mind, I got in touch with the Rutland Centre for an expert perspective. (Although they don’t prescribe anything themselves, being an abstinence-based treatment facility, they were kind enough to pool the knowledge of their counsellors and give me a dig-out here.) They told me:

Being open and honest is an important part of any relationship, but even more so when a person is in recovery. Understand that recovery has to be their priority and that it is a lifelong commitment, without a fixed end date.

They said that support and understanding are vital in broaching a new relationship where recovery is involved, but also that you shouldn’t feel you have to make dramatic lifestyle changes to make it fit either. Educating yourself on recovery (and on resources to help if you need a hand in future, like Al-Anon) is a good place to start.

One thing that stuck out in your letter was your use of the phrase “help him”. It struck me as a bit loaded. You cannot take on the mantle of responsibility here – all you should or can do is offer encouragement and understanding. “It’s not your job to monitor or control,” a Rutland spokesperson advised. “You are not responsible for the choices they make, so try not to take on this role.”

(And for anyone in early recovery reading this – Rutland echoed that recovery must always be top of your agenda. New relationships are emotionally challenging, and addiction can often be a way to manage emotions. Make sure you’re putting yourself first and are resilient enough for a relationship. The end of a new relationship could set you back to old and bad coping strategies.)

Snooper, you got off on the wrong foot here by accessing this delicate information through less-than-ideal means.

But this situation is still salvageable if you start communicating honestly – and stick to that long-term no matter what. And whether or not you decide to stay with this particular guy? It’s still something to bear in mind the next time the siren call of a forbidden glove box calls your name…

Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

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