What Are You Thinking?: Bonnie
Dr. Phil speaks with guests who are concerned about the actions of someone they love.
"I don't know what my mom is thinking," says Sarah, age 25. "She's nearing 50 years old and she's dating a guy that's only a few years older than me. It's disgusting."


Sarah's mother, Bonnie, 48, met Justin, 29, two years ago and their friendship developed into a relationship that Sarah did not approve of. After many arguments with her mother, Bonnie asked her daughter to move out. "She kicked me out of the house and Justin moved in two days later. I felt neglected. I felt abandoned. I want to see her in a healthy relationship and I don't see this as being a healthy relationship," says Sarah.


Recently, Bonnie moved to another state to live with Justin. "My mother, for the first time, had a good, stable job, she bought a home, and she has basically given all of this up for this young guy. If he leaves her, then she has nothing," Sarah says.


When they first started dating, Bonnie was concerned about their age difference. Now, she says, "it just seems so right." She says everyone else in the their family has accepted Justin, except for her daughter. Bonnie's biggest concern is that Sarah may get married and have children someday, but won't want them to be involved with Bonnie if she's still with Justin.
Bonnie says her relationship with Justin is healthy, and she believes he's her soul mate — the first one she's ever had in her life. Dr. Phil asks Bonnie how many times she's been married.


"Couple times," says Bonnie.


"How many?" persists Dr. Phil.


"Three," says Bonnie.


"Three times before and those weren't soul mates? You married them because they were just handy?" He asks Bonnie if she looks at this as a long-term relationship. Bonnie agrees she does see it that way.


Sarah sees it as repeating history. "What's different with him?" she asks. "I see this as a way for her to feel youthful again and maybe that's the bottom line. I don't understand when she says he's her soul mate. What is so great about him that makes you love him so much? I don't know."

Dr. Phil questions Sarah's point of view: "At what point did your understanding why she's in love with someone become a criteria for her mate selection? Is there something I've missed about now that kids are running their parents' lives?" Sarah says she is not trying to control her mother, that she just wants her to be happy. "You want what's best for her," says Dr. Phil, "but you see something you think she's doing to her peril and so you think you should say so. But does it end there or do you expect her to do what you tell her?"


Sarah admits, "In this situation, it would be nice."


Dr. Phil asks Justin, who's sitting in the audience, how he feels about this situation. "It's always upsetting Bonnie that Sarah feels the way she does. I do look at this as a long-term relationship, but it's hard to move forward," he says.
"I'll tell you what I think," Dr. Phil tells Sarah. "I think you have the right to say exactly what you think and express your thoughts and feelings, and you've done that. And I think once you've done that, then you need to mind your own business. You can't run somebody else's life and certainly not your mom's."


"But how can I be out of line for caring about her so much and worrying about her?" asks Sarah.


"You're not out of line for caring so much," says Dr. Phil. "You're out of line for expecting your mother to do exactly what you tell her whenever you tell her to do it. Can you care? Yes. Can you hurt? Yes. Can you be there to catch her when she falls, if she does? I hope so. But it's her life. She's a grown woman."


Dr. Phil addresses Bonnie and Justin: "You guys just need to do what you're doing with an open mind and an eye toward the future. If you're looking at this as a long-term relationship, here's the problem. Between 30 and 50 there is not a lot of difference in terms of health and energy and vitality and the ability to share and have camaraderie. But the difference between 50 and 70, which is still just 20 years chronologically, is dramatic. The aging process accelerates dramatically."

Dr. Phil joins a 69-year-old woman, Lorraine, whom he met before the show. "We're 20 years apart," says Dr. Phil. "Now, you don't want to have anything to do with me, do you?" he asks Lorraine.


"Not really," she admits.


"She's got a lot more energy than I do," Dr. Phil jokes with the audience. Turning back to Bonnie, Dr. Phil says, "This is you and someone 20 years younger, in 20 years. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with aging and I'm not saying you wouldn't gracefully age, but those differences become pronounced so you need to think about that going forward."


To Sarah: "You said what you had to say. She's weighed that maybe more than you realize. You are 25 and one of the things you'll learn as you move forward is that the only life you run is your own."