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Ask Lori Gephart Your Own Question
Lori Gephart
Lori Gephart, Licensed Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist and Hypnotherapist 20 years of experience helping clients of all ages.
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We have a good friend of the family but we know he takes

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we have a good friend of the family but we know he takes stuff - anything - which at first was pretty hurtful. His last theft I let him know subtly that I knew it was him but blatantly covered up for him which I think he appreciated. We never talk about it, but I sometimes think it would help but feel it has to come from him. Although he's a great fun person to be around we also feel he doesnt have a very happy time. How do we best help him? We have learnt to overlook the thieving, even though its really annoying at times.

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I am sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult situation with your friend. It sounds as if you have been in the position of enabling his stealing and colluding with him in a subtle manner. This may in some ways may give him the message that you approve of this behavior, even though this may not be what you intend to convey to him. While you may be trying to spare your friend embarrassment, you are not doing him any favors. This behavior of stealing represents a serious issue that he needs to address. Avoiding the subject with him just allows him to deny for longer that he has a problem. The longer that this behavior goes on the more resentful you may become, which may damage your friendship as well. It may be helpful to get the help of a psychologist to assist you in setting these limits, communicating effectively with your friend, and perhaps even having an intervention with him in which you let him know how unacceptable his behaviors are and how new rules will need to be put in place for your friendship. In the meantime, it would be advisable to limit spending time with him to where you are able to have valuables locked up, or meeting him out of your home where he doesn't have access to stealing your possessions. Remember that you deserve respect and this means that there should be respect for your things, whether they are expensive items or not - they are yours and should not be taken without your permission. Your friend will not be happy until he confronts whatever demons are contributing to his thievery and enabling him to avoid the issue will not help him. I wish you luck with this. Please let me know if I can help further.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi Lori, thanks for your response. We have learnt to lock everything up when he's around and interestingly I have found quite a few things returned recently. He clearly does not want to be doing what he does and we think he would not want to actually admit to kleptomania although he displays many symptoms. I just wanted to know whether it would help to open up the subject with him or to keep quiet about it? He's a very intelligent guy struggling hard to keep everything normal on the surface. I would not want to be responsible for any kind of breakdown.

Thank you for the additional information. Living with secret and problems is much more difficult than dealing with reality. Confronting your friend in a private and caring way, should not cause a breakdown, but could give him the encouragement that he may need to seek professional help for his problem. Keeping things normal on the surface does nothing for his mental health. When we avoid facing problems or feeling feelings we end up with symptoms. I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if I can help further.
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