Do Not Love Thy Neighbor

Advice on manners and morals.
Nov. 12 1999 3:30 AM

Do Not Love Thy Neighbor

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com.

Dear Pru,

I am a 21-year-old male living with my girlfriend. I have two kids with her, but I've been going out with my neighbor. The problem is that my neighbor knows about my girlfriend, and I don't know what to do. What's worse, I think I'm falling in love with my neighbor. Can you help?

--M.D.

Dear M.,

Help you what? Move? Get unattached? Prudie is fascinated that the problem you're concerned with is your neighbor's knowing about your girlfriend. Usually a man is spooked if his significant other knows about the neighbor! Prudie must tell you that a number of things seem less than optimal here. You have barely reached your majority, yet you have already fathered two offspring--while unmarried--and are being unfaithful to the woman to whom you've presumably made a commitment. It would really be lovely, for all concerned, if you were having a goof with Prudie. On the off chance that your letter is on the level, it could be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others. If you do call it a day with the mother of your children, you will be spared a divorce ... but will remain financially responsible for child support. If you do make an alliance with the neighbor, Prudie hopes you will move. And do try to stop being so horizontally accessible. Given your age, you could very well populate the whole neighborhood.

--Prudie, alarmedly

Prudie,

I have a problem, I hate my brother's wife. She has been cheating on him for the past year. (They have only been married a year.) She treats him terribly, and she tells me she hates my family. I have been trying to ignore her comments, but it's impossible. Do I tell my brother how I feel or continue to hold my tongue?

--Seething in Texas

Dear Seethe,

What do you think the chances are that your sister-in-law lives near the fellow who wrote the previous letter? Only kidding ... though all these loose people are really no laughing matter.

From your report of the timetable, your brother's wife started the marriage with no intention of being faithful. Chances are that if you know she's running around, it's likely your brother does, too. The fact that she treats him terribly, however, is definitely known to him, and it is for this reason that Prudie suggests you say nothing. He is either masochistically neurotic or is figuring out how to extricate himself. The only mechanistic thing you can do is make yourself scarce. And should your brother ask your opinion, give it to him.

--Prudie, pragmatically

Dear Prudence,

I'm a 27-year-old gay guy. My problem is that I've fallen for this guy I've been chatting with on the Internet for the past six months. "Seth" thinks of me as someone he can confide in, not as a potential boyfriend. He's a serious bodybuilder and says he's looking for muscular guys only. While I do have a toned bod, I am definitely not of the bodybuilder ilk. My question: How can I convince Seth that we would be perfect together (even though I'm not a bodybuilder)? He doesn't seem interested in meeting. The only thing he does seem interested in is pouring his heart out to me about how difficult it is to find a muscular mate. Please advise.

--Looking for Love

Dear Look,

Take a deep breath and face the facts. You are interested in a partner, this chap is interested in pecs and lats. Your cybercrush sounds like a muscle-bound moron, and you would not be perfect together. Where is the commonality of interests? You might try to figure out why you are attracted, even electronically, to someone who is whining to you about his inability to find another bodybuilder. For whatever reason, you want what you can't have. Prudie hopes you will refocus, consider yourself lucky, and move on to another chat room. Or better yet, start going out.

--Prudie, sociably

Dear Prudie,

I accepted a new job a couple of months ago and relocated to another city, which is away from my grown children. The new job has been fantastic, and I felt I made the right decision in moving. Until a few weeks ago, anyway. My manager was moved laterally within the department, and the person they hired is an ex-manager of mine and the cause of my leaving my old company! He totally disrespects women and anyone not in his field. The management knows that I cannot and will not work for him. I have requested an inter-company transfer so I would not be his subordinate. I have another job offer, in yet another state, which I rejected to accept this position--but they still want me to work for them.

I am getting ready to sign a lease for my housing but am unsure if I want to stay here if I'm forced to keep this position. What do you think I should do?

--Haunted

Dear Haunt,

Move quickly. That is, get a commitment from a superior that you will be given a different job where you're not reporting to the chauvinist pig, er, former manager. Don't be shy about mentioning the other offer. You say that your current management understands your aversion to this man. If you can get an ironclad guarantee of another position, sign the lease and get on with your life.

If you feel there is any dilly-dallying on the part of your new employer, having already left the area where your children live would make one more move merely a temporary inconvenience. If you do not get a firm promise of an inter-company transfer, by all means go to the company that still wants you. If that happens, and if what's-his-name winds up working for them it should be Ripley you write to, not Prudie.

--Prudie, hopefully