Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 9 1999 3:30 AM

Drawing upon her rich experience of life, Prudence (Prudie to her friends) responds to questions about manners, personal relations, politics, and other subjects. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. Queries should not exceed 200 words in length. Please indicate how you wish your letter to be signed, preferably including your location.

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Dear Prudence,

As 1998 has drawn to a close, I have found myself in evaluation mode and have felt ever increasingly blue and bluer.

Though I do long for a permanent relationship, I also have not been gathering moss till the right one comes along. The result is I have several ongoing, fairly long-term relationships that are basically sex and nothing more. All these gents are unavailable for reasons of geography, marital status, and/or neuroses. The problem is, even though there is no pressure for me to make any of these relationships permanent, none of these guys treats me very well. I'm not talking trinkets here, either. I just don't feel warm and fuzzy--more like cheap and tawdry!

Is a big housecleaning the answer?

--Confused in the Big City

Dear Con,

YES!! A big housecleaning is the answer. And Prudie knows you will succeed because you are so cleareyed about what's wrong. It is not everyone who can be her own Greek chorus.

Turn your blue to white: Become a born-again virgin. Get your self-respect back. Only truck with men you decide are worthwhile. It will be a new beginning. How insightful you are to use the word "unavailable." And how wise to want to bag relationships in which the other person is far away, married, or a filbert. The time has definitely come to say to all these chaps: Adios, yo-yo. (Translation: Farewell ... you're on your own.)

Do begin again, and Prudie predicts 1999 will be your year. Let us all know how things develop.