Meet Dr. Andrea Bonior!

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Dr. Andrea Bonior, author of The Friendship Fix, who has very generously come to visit us on the website tonight.

Stealing the bio directly from Andrea’s website, “Originally from Virginia Beach, VA, Andrea Bonior (that’s BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She received her B.A. with distinction in psychology from Yale University, with an additional major in American Studies. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology at American University, with post-doctoral work at George Washington University, focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.”

Then, of course, there’s her super-cool column in the Washington Post, “Baggage Check”, which I must admit to reading when looking for procrastination– I mean, inspiration– in plumbing the emotional depths of my characters.

Having known her since we were wee college students, I can safely say that there’s not much Andrea doesn’t know about friendships and relationships– and we’re truly lucky to have her here with us tonight.

So here’s how it works. Andrea will be here from seven to eight, EST. It’s all happening in the Comments section below. So just open up that Comments section and ask whatever you feel like asking and Andrea will type back. I’ll moderate as needed, but otherwise, it’s all over to you!

Oh, and I nearly forgot! I’ll be giving away one copy of The Friendship Fix and one copy of The Orchid Affair, winners to be chosen at random at the end of the chat. Pop in with a question or a comment for a chance to win!

This is the first live chat I’ve done here on the website, so it’s something of an experiment. Please do let me know what you think and whether we should do something like this again….


  1. Tipsy Reader on May 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Andrea, I was just wondering why you decided to write your book?

  2. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Hey hey! Lauren, thank you so much for having me on here! I can’t wait to chat about friendship. If there’s a lull in the questions, I’m happy to spill some of the worst friendship dramas you’ve ever heard….(Yup, my book research was pretty fun.)

  3. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Hi, Andrea! Thanks so much for visiting us here tonight! And I second Tipsy Reader’s question– what made you decide to put your experiences in book form? And was it very different from doing the column?

  4. Tipsy Reader on May 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    LOL. Dish all your worst dramas! That actually kind of ties into my first question.

  5. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Oops- my timing needs work!
    Hi, Tipsy! Nice to “meet” you.
    I chose to write this book for a lot of reasons, but the main one was that I felt like relationship books for women all seemed to focus on finding a man, attracting a man, keeping a man, dumping a man, getting over a man… you get the picture. (I always joke that the only book I have yet to see in that arena is on embalming a man.) And yet I really felt like friend relationships are where so many of the highs and lows are in women’s lives. They are so vitally important to our well-being, and yet a lot of times we sort of fall into them without half of the attention that we give to dating. So I thought it would be great to address how to make friendships better! Throw in all the shenanigans with facebook and technology– like what we’re doing right here, right now– and there are so many interesting kinks to sort out in making the most of your friendships.

  6. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    That’s such a good point! This is something that always drove me nuts about Disney movies (until Pocahontas)– the heroines never seemed to have friends. And yet, friendships are such defining points in our lives.

  7. Céline on May 12, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Hi Lauren, Hi Andrea!!

    I think this live session is really great!

    So, I have a question… basic, but I’d like to know your opinion on this, Andrea :
    I’ve only read so far as The temptation of the Night Jasmine yet, so there might be some clues about this later in the series, but I was wondering… how come Geoffrey can’t forgive Miles for marrying his sister Henrietta, in The Masque of the Black Tulip? I would have thought he would be happy for them, what with seeing them so happy and so made for each other…

  8. Tipsy Reader on May 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    So what is you main advice — like do you have steps or whatnot? How did you pick to format your book?

  9. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Well, I admit how rather sad it was to hear some of the stories. I think there’s often a ‘women are horrible to each other’ myth out there in the media, that whole catfighting stereotype, and I don’t want to play into it too much…but some of the stuff I heard was pretty awful. Where to begin? 😉 Perhaps I can put a question out to you– have you ever felt betrayed by a friend? Or had a friendship break up in less than feel-good circumstances? (If it’s too personal, my apologies!)

  10. Pamela Price on May 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Interesting, Andrea, your “read” on relationship books targeting women. Spot on observations. And interesting too that you bring the social media sphere into the discussion.

    How do you think the connections fostered via Facebook and Twitter will change relationships for the upcoming generations of women? Do you think they will help or hurt?

    As a 40-something, FB et al have served to rekindle relationships with people that I lost touch with over time. And yet, in some ways, it was sort of healthy to lose touch, grow and reconnect as adults–having shed our baggage in our 30s that might have impeded honest connection.

  11. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Lauren, the Disney movie angle– how interesting! I never thought of that! It’s very true. The irony is, quality friendships and social support might be one of the greatest predictors of well-being and life satisfaction that there are. But if you ask a lot of women how they came across their closest friends, they kind of stumbled into them (which can work out beautifully, don’t get me wrong… but it can also be horrible!)

  12. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    (So, as background for the “Black Tulip” question– Miles and Richard are childhood best friends. Miles basically grows up over in Richard’s house. Richard has a major hissy fit when he finds out Miles has been pursuing– or rather been pursued by!– Richard’s little sister. Basically, it screws up their friendship. Five books later, Richard still isn’t really talking to Miles, even though Miles and Hen are very happily married.)

  13. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Celine– ah, the jealousy piece!!
    I would love to hear Lauren’s thoughts as well, obviously– if she’s willing to give them away! But you know, it’s so interesting. I think there might be some male/female differences here slightly, but not as much as you’d think. The truth is, the concept of forgiveness– for things large and small– is such a theme throughout so many relationships. On some level, part of any good friendship is learning to forgive the small annoyances (thank goodness for that!) but with the larger stumbles and jealousy and grudges, it gets much more difficult. I saw so many friendships break up because of the inability to forgive (whether justifiable or not.)

  14. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    I got ahead of myself here! A lot of the anecdotes about forgiveness tie into jealousy, too– and betrayal.
    Oh– thanks, Lauren! You know, that also sounds like a brother/sister dynamic as well. I really think there’s often a possessiveness there. (I speak as someone with two older brothers, who occasionally felt like I had three fathers. 😉 )

  15. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Jumping in on this, how do you deal with the intersection of romance and friendship? My inchoate sense with the Richard/Miles dispute is that there’s a “wait, but I was supposed to come first!” reaction from the best friend who’s been displaced for the romantic interest. My people are fictional, but I’ve definitely seen this among my friends as well– the weird shifts that occur when a single friend is suddenly coupled. Any advice on navigating those waters?

  16. Céline on May 12, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    So, basically, what you say is that Geoffrey kinda felt that Miles had betrayed him, falling in love with his sister? But why should he feel betrayed like that? This is what I find most puzzling. How strongly he reacted to their marrying… well, flirting first, but marring afterwards! 🙂
    It must have been such a shock to him!

    And, I would love to know your thoughts as well, Lauren, of course!

  17. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Seeing the earlier question. I found writing a book to be so different than writing a column– writing the advice column is always so reactive. I pick out questions that are sent to me, and I respond. Writing from scratch– staring at that totally blank screen with nothing to react to– that was very different! But I tried to use the same sort of style. I’ve always been told that what makes the column work is that I’ve got the psychologist background, but am willing to talk to people like a normal human being. (I hope!)

  18. Tipsy Reader on May 12, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Not too personal at all. I did have a best friend once when we were younger and by the time we hit our twenties she an I had veered in vastly separate directions. Lets just say she had begun hanging out with a VERY unsavory crowd, and so I hate to break it off. It was toxic. So that wasn’t pleasant.

    I guess my questions was more directed at the internet. I find that more and more I rarely chat with my girlfriends on the phone — it’s through text or e-mail or facebook. How do you propose to help balance the face-time with online in your book?

  19. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    It’s so interesting, isn’t it? I think there’s a huge divide in some of the implications of Facebook, among say early 20-somethings now, versus anyone older. For the older crowd, facebook is all about reconnecting with people from their past. For the younger crowd, they’re not reconnecting– because they’ve never been disconnected!! It worries me that it must be hard to turn over a new leaf in your identity or get a fresh start when you’ve basically grown up with an online audience, you know?

  20. Tipsy Reader on May 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    *HAD to break it off

  21. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    So funny, Tipsy! I was just about to type in saying how intrigued I was about Pamela’s question about Facebook and Twitter affecting friendships– which is just what you’re asking here, too!

  22. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I also feel like some friendships, especially ones that are a bit dysfunctional or lackluster, are sort of meant to fade away… and yet facebook can keep them on life support in a rather artificial way. And if both people aren’t on the same page, it can really be problematic when one person thinks that the friendship is still going strong and the other one has all but defriended them in their mind (even though they can’t bring themselves to actually pull the trigger.) Since friendships aren’t meant to be monogamous, a lot of times two people could have VERY different ideas about whether they’re “broken up” or not! I feel like that’s just one of the ways that sometimes friendships can sometimes be so much harder than dating!

  23. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Andrea, that’s such an interesting point about different identities with different people. I think so many of us are chameleons, showing different facets to different friend groups– does online media change that?

  24. Tipsy Reader on May 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Lol. I didn’t even see Pamela’s, woops! Thanks Pamela for asking an awesome q!

  25. Pamela Price on May 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Exactly re: new leaf. Exactly.

    As much press that is given to “be careful what you say on FB b/c of what may get back to a boss,” there’s less emphasis on the sanity of privacy in relationships.

    Having grown up in a small town, the refuge of a major university–and the anonymity, were a godsend. Liberating. Not that I did anything shameful, but to disconnect… it was golden. I could be absorbed in history and no one cared.

    As it happens, a couple of my friends went through that, too. And now we have this connection that is curious: a shared appreciation for the “break” we took.

    At the same time, I look at my late MIL who kept up with her classmates her entire life in her small town. No one needed FB to keep up because the grapevine was in place! =)

    Their response to her passing made me turn to reach out–through Facebook!–to the people that knew me long, long ago.

  26. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Yes, romance and friendship! We all seem to know “that girl” that all but disappears when she’s in a new romance. And it hurts, doesn’t it? And the jealousy can often be multi-dimensional– you’re jealous of your friend’s new partner because they’re getting more time and attention with your friend now, but you also might be jealous of your friend themselves because they’re so happy and excited in a new relationship and maybe you’re not in that stage. I think one of the first things I always recommend is just to be honest with yourself. I think we stigmatize jealousy so much, but pangs of envy are fairly common in relationships– it’s just a matter of how you’re able to move past them. And then, once you can level with yourself, you’ll be better able to level with your friend, like “Hey, I’m happy for you– I really am. But I must admit I’m feeling kind of pushed aside. I really value our friendship, and I’m a bit afraid that I’m losing you to so-and-so.”

  27. Christine on May 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Hi, Andrea! When do you think a friendship is irrevocably broken? How do you know when to give up or when to keep trying?

  28. Pamela Price on May 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    “I think we stigmatize jealousy so much…”

    Wow. That’s true.

    If we spent more time trying to understand the envy impulse, we might be able to find ways to work through it rather than swallowing rage or lashing out unproductively.

    Must run. Good stuff! Thanks for the chat.

  29. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Thanks for being here, Pamela!

  30. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Tipsy– so true re: the phone! In fact, I’ve read a lot recently about how little we use the phone to actually talk now (despite the fact that it seems that everyone’s always on it.) It almost seems rude and intrusive to just call someone out of the blue. Now, we text, and we facebook, and we “schedule” an actual phone call if we want to have one. It is indeed hard to balance!

    There are a lot of questions to ask yourself to see if you’re achieving the right kind of balance between quality and quantity. I think one of the first is how real and mindful your actual connections feel. I give an example in the book (it’s the only example in the whole thing where I use something that happened to me) of how one day I was wondering about this old dear high school friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in seven or eight years, thinking of her with such fondness, of how great it would be to reconnect, wondering what she was up to… and then I remembered we were friends on facebook!!! So embarrassing, but it just hadn’t registered!! It was just some sort of superficial reconnection– NOTHING like what would have happened if we even just bumped into each other on the street.

  31. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Pamela– thanks so much for your insights!! The whole small town angle is very interesting as well! Facebook sort of mimics a bunch of small towns, in certain ways…

  32. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Lauren, re: chameleons— totally! I was just talking to Self magazine today (fingers crossed they will plug the book! 😉 ) about this issue. How some people’s personas are so different online than in person… and how because some people might be much more dramatic, or political, or complaining, or inappropriate online than you’re used to seeing in person– therefore you might actually have some people who you might want to be friends with in real life but NOT online! (I think the majority of attention goes to the opposite situation.)

  33. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Tipsy—re: the unsavory crowd: yes, that is a huge issue! How long do you tolerate your friend going down a bad path? On the one hand, you sort of owe it to them to stick it out for a while if they’re getting into trouble, because that’s what friends do, right? But you have to be careful not to sacrifice your own health in the process of trying to “save” them. The book has a pretty harrowing story of someone finally having to cut off their best friend because of just plain old unhealthy behavior.

  34. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Fingers and toes crossed for “Self”!

    Okay, I have a rather random question for you. I’ve found that in my real life, my closest female friendships tend to cluster in groups of threes– and I’ve replicated this in my books (i.e. Henrietta, Charlotte and Penelope, or Lizzy, Agnes and Sally for my readers out there). Is this just a me thing or do friendships fall in threes for a reason?

  35. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Christine— in terms of knowing how hard to try to salvage a friendship, it’s really tough. I think a good question to ask yourself is just how realistic is it that there is a truly healthy foundation there somewhere within the relationship that you have a chance of returning to. Maybe it’s a bad phase but if some things are righted, you can get back on track. On the other hand, it might be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. There’s a big difference between a bad patch, and just a bad fit.

  36. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Lauren– that is really interesting! I have definitely seen clusters of three happen naturally. But the interesting thing is, I think they can be hard to maintain. Often, I see cracks start to happen in the triangle, or one side of the triangle being stronger than the other, and that imbalance leading to some difficulty. Perhaps it says something about your ability to be a good friend that you’re able to keep that going so well! 🙂

  37. Christine on May 12, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Thanks – that perfectly describes the situation I had in mind and why I ended it.

  38. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Do you mind if I ask how you ended it? That’s obviously one of the toughest parts!

  39. Sheila on May 12, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Hi Everyone. Coming from the much older, re-connecting generation, I am very grateful to FB for this opportunity. Altho I do use to connect qithfriends of all ages and durations I had the opportunity 19 years ago to re-connect with a once very dear friend whom I had lost touch with since high school. Lo and behold, it was like those many years had never happened. I have a theory that once compatible. usually always so, as long as nothing major like drugs, shared exes, etc, intervenes.

  40. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Have you read Emily Giffen’s “Something Borrowed” yet? There was a huge discussion about it recently on the All About Romance message boards that I found really fascinating– basically, it’s about childhood best friends and their love for the same man. It’s been billed as chick lit, but the thrust of the comments seemed to be that the real story is about the friendship and why the friendship fails, rather than the romance.

  41. Tipsy Reader on May 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Lol. I’ve had the same thing happen to me, although its more in twos!

  42. Christine on May 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Well, I contemplated doing the whole “break up” email, but I was told by people very familiar with the situation to just cut off contact. Because this “friend” was a very on-line person, I just stopped communicating with her via those methods. Not sure if that was the most mature way I could’ve done it, but she probably wouldn’t have reacted well to a “you suck as a friend” email.

  43. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I think that sounds totally appropriate! There are certain situations where I totally advise doing the “breakup” communication, but really only if more passive/subtle methods don’t work first. The truth is, the same type of people who are kind of prone to relationship-ending behaviors are the same ones who are going to respond poorly to the actual declaration of the relationship ending!

  44. Casey on May 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Andrea – I am meeting up with my best friend from childhood later this summer on the weekend her recently ex-husband is getting re-married. I feel really awkward dicussing anything regarding the break-up since her husband did the leaving for the other person (both also separate long-time friends of mine). Should I try to get her to talk about it at all during this weekend getaway? Or do I just ignore it like she probably would like to do?

  45. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    So interesting about “Something Borrowed!” I look forward to reading it! yes, SO many times I heard a friendship story from someone, they’d say “This was even worse than a divorce” or “This girl is more of a soul mate than my husband.” I think it’s so easy to overlook just how important a platonic relationship can be, emotionally!

  46. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Eeek! How is it eight o’clock already? Andrea, you are a rock star and I wish I could keep you here answering questions all night. (Evil laughter here….)

    Thanks so much for sharing your expertise! And there’s so much more of it in the book….

  47. Christine on May 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Amen! She had to be the victim all the time, so no doubt she would’ve twisted my words around to make it all my fault. This way, I had all the control.

  48. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Speaking of your book, would you like to do the honors and pick two names from the people who were here today? (I’m giving away one copy of “Orchid” and one of “Friendship Fix”, so you can pick what goes to who.)

  49. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Sheila– so interesting!! I’ve heard (and had) that experience a lot– getting together with someone you’ve been out of touch with, and yet it feeling like no time has past. One of my dearest friends who I totally feel closest too, we basically have no contact for 1-2 years at a time (due to the nature of her international travel and lifestyle)– and yet, I really feel that the moment we’re together, it’s like we’re immediately as close as ever.

  50. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Casey– I’m so sorry for your friend. I think you can sort of feel her out. I wouldn’t force anything, but you can try to make it clear (even subtly, like “It’s so good to catch up– I can’t wait to really get to talk”) that you’re ready to listen if she so chooses.

  51. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Oh my goodness– the time, indeed!!!! Wow, what a pleasure this was. Lauren, thank you SO much– and it’s been so awesome to meet some of her readers! Thanks to everyone who joined in!!

    Perhaps I will use the “close my eyes and point to computer screen” method for picking… one second!

  52. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks so much, everyone, for being here! And I apologize for the pokiness of my Comments section– sometimes it takes a while to load!

  53. Andrea Bonior on May 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Okay, after multiple attempts (with myself winning several times), I’ve got Christine, and Casey! Happy reading!

    Thank you so much, again. And have a wonderful night.

  54. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    And I repeat, Andrea, you are amazing! There are so many conversations here I wish we could have continued– as it is, you’ve given me a lot to think about!

  55. Christine on May 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Awesome! Thanks for the advice (and the free book)!

  56. Lauren on May 12, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks, Andrea! I’ve had that problem with the point and poke method, too….

    Congrats to Casey and Christine! (Email me and let me know where to send your prize.)

    Good night, all!

  57. Céline on May 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Sorry I had to leave so quickly! Thank you to you both, Andrea and Lauren, for this really interesting chat!

    Lauren, you absolutely have to do this more often!! 🙂

  58. Lauren Willig - News on May 23, 2011 at 8:43 am

    […] Mistletoe Mondays, here’s our first question. Last week, I hosted the first ever Pink website live chat, with Dr. Andrea Bonior, who very graciously consented to be my live chat guinea […]

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