Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Nov. 15 2001 2:49 PM

Keep the Frog

Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click hereto sign up.Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

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Dear Prudence,

I have a dilemma. I've been dating this guy for a little over two years. For a while I thought I should marry him ... he's intelligent, ambitious, kind, and we don't fight or argue very often. But there are things about him that make me think we're not meant for each other. I've recently moved in with him, bringing with me all my belongings, as well as my two dogs and two cats. I love him, but I don't feel like this is even close to the fairy tale relationship I've always longed for. I guess what I need to know is, is there even such a thing as a fairy tale romance? I know I will always be loved and taken care of with him, but is that enough? Would I be settling if I agree to marry him? My last relationship lasted way too long (five years), and I knew we were never going to marry. I just don't want to waste five years with another man, only to decide it isn't meant to be. Do you think I should talk to him about it?

—Wondering

Dear Won,

Talk to him and say what? "Could you please be a little more like Prince Charming?" Unless you have a concrete idea of what he could do to help your fantasy along, like flowers every Friday or poems on your pillow, Prudie would not suggest you share with him your desire for a fairy tale romance. The qualities of his that you mention—intelligence, ambition, kindness, and a minimum of arguing, would certainly sound like Prince Charming to a boatload of women. And, my dear, he even welcomed your livestock when you moved in! As to your question—is there such a thing as a fairy tale romance?—Prudie would say yes, and in fact she has had one. Alas, they do not endure. Fairy tales are to romance what fireworks are to the night sky. They are transient states ... and while temporarily thrilling, not what one builds a life around.

—Prudie, historically

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Dear Prudence,

I need your help. I am totally in love with the biggest jerk on earth. I have been going out with this guy for almost a year, but he still "just wants to be friends." I don't want to let him have his cake and eat it, too. What suggestions can you give me so I can make him understand that he doesn't know what he has until it's gone?

—In Love

Dear In,

Regarding the cake, put it back on the shelf. As for how to make him understand that he doesn't know what he has until it's gone, that, alas, is a no-brainer. Be gone. Tell him you think he needs time to crystallize his thoughts and to see how life goes without you. This is what Prudie calls a fate bet. By taking this action, you will bring things to a head. If things go your way, you two will be together. If he fades off into the ether, you will know it was never going to be the way you wanted it.

—Prudie, ultimately

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Dear Prudence,

I am a foreign national living in the United States, and I really like it here. Obstructing my American dream, however, are emerging immigration and professional problems. Both problems are out of my hands to solve, except that I could get married to an American woman. I have, at best, six months to pull this off. I am 24, and I have a bourgeois salary. So what's the best approach? When making your recommendation, keep in mind that most of the woman around me are of the "country," "western," or "redneck" mind-set in regards to foreigners. Am I screwed?

—Foreigner in Trouble

Dear For,

Sheesh, what a day at Prudie's. One reader wants a guy from a fairy tale, another can't get her beau to commit, and you want to marry for a green card. It does sound as though you have limited options. Prudie is guessing your job prevents you from moving to a more cosmopolitan city, so let's work with what we have. Without sanctioning your search for a marriage of convenience (which most probably is fraudulent and illegal), here are the only possible avenues Prudie can think of. And she is only thinking out loud ... she is not suggesting. 1) Through carefully chosen organizations in town, you might meet someone who is more internationally minded than the other, uh, xenophobes. 2) Another possible candidate would be a lesbian who wishes to remain closeted. For you, this would be Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Touch. 3) Perhaps a wallflower type who is dying to be married. As a last-ditch measure, maybe you could find a nice older person in town who would adopt you. As an immigration matter, there are usually easier routes than marriage if one already has a work visa. (And yes, there is the possibility that, in terms of your American dream, you may be screwed.)

—Prudie, accommodatingly

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Dear Prudence,

I am a very busy, private person with awkward social skills. I so seldom get time alone that I look forward to flying on business trips ... time to think, read, draw, or stare vacantly into the distance. I have enough experience now to know that it never works out that way. I've begun to dread airplane flights because the person sitting next to me insists upon chatting. I've tried everything from polite disinterest to blunt disinterest to outright bad manners, but people do seem to think that if they persist, they will draw me out. I do not wish to be drawn out and don't know how to make my point forcefully. I would like a magic phrase that politely lets people know that I respectfully do not wish to converse. Not just that I don't wish to converse
right now, but that I don't wish to converse. Got one?

—Silent

Dear Si,

Prudie could not agree with you more. In fact, she has collected the following approaches from friends who've been pestered on planes ... and has used one or two of them herself. Since "what do you do?" is a favorite opener, an arcane or uninteresting occupation can be very effective. If you answer that you're in pest control, or a particle physicist, your seatmate most probably will be at a loss as to how to follow up. If the Welcome Wagon in the next seat does not take the hint, you can be more direct and explain that you have a serious problem you must mull over and solve by the time you land in XXXXX. Or you can say your poodle just died, and you are in no shape to have a conversation. Prudie actually knows a woman who learned to sign, "I am not a hearing person." This, of course, necessitates going to find the flight attendant to make your dinner selection—and using the headset is out of the question—but what a small price to pay for silence. In this particular instance, where there's a will, there is a way.

—Prudie, quietly