Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

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Advice on manners and morals.
Dec. 6 2001 1:49 PM

Just Jewelry?

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Dear Prudence,

My live-in BF of a few months and I have been having some ups and downs lately, often about bills. I have been really stressed out, so the other night I got drunk, thinking I would drown my sorrows ... but that only made things worse because, apparently, I went off with one of his friends and had sex with him! I came home around 3 a.m. My BF said he knew what happened, but I didn't!! I can't get my BF to realize that I don't remember a thing about that night. (To make matters worse, the guy told my BF that we did have sex.) Couldn't this be considered rape since I don't remember anything that happened?

—Stressfully Confused

Dear Stress,

Where to start? Prudie will try not to pile on, but there are so many things she hopes you've learned. The first, of course, is that sorrows can swim. When things go haywire, hiding in a gin bottle does not improve the situation. The second is that one must never imbibe so much liquid painkiller that one does not know with whom one is having the pleasure—or even if one has had the pleasure. And, dear girl, much as it would smooth things over with the BF, the definition of rape does not, Prudie believes, have to do with forgetfulness. (Prudie is not a lawyer, of course, so you might want to check.) Prudie hopes there can be forgiveness on the part of your beau, but in any case you must take this sorry episode as a hard-earned lesson that you cannot become blotto as a response to tough times. The price is too high.

—Prudie, soberly


Dear Prudence,

I met a guy online over a year ago. We got to the point where we were talking more and more online. He started sending me cards and poems telling me how much he loved me. He asked me to come and meet him, but due to one thing or another, I haven't been able to. We also talk on the phone quite a bit. I have sent gifts to his office for his birthday, etc., and he has loved them. The huge problem is that I found out he is planning to get married next spring. How do I handle this? Shouldn't the wife-to-be be advised of what he's doing? There's not a day that goes by that we don't talk. Not a day goes by that he doesn't tell me how much he has missed me. Please tell me how to handle this.

—So in Love With This Cheater

Dear So,

Your e-mail "relationship" is very much in sync with the times. These cyber flings make people feel quite powerful—but, of course, they're imaginary. They're all projection ... as in therapy, when a patient projects a lot of feelings onto the therapist whom s/he doesn't know as a real person. Prudie's favorite therapist, Dr. Shari Thurer, points out that what a patient is feeling in this situation has much more to do with himself/herself than the therapist. You, as this man's "pen pal," don't really know him except in the most limited way; you've invented him in your head according to your own blueprints. The seeds for this kind of freedom and deception are inherent in the medium: The shield of the computer promotes outpourings of emotion. (Not unlike the confessor and priest on different sides of a screen.) Prudie would recommend leaving the fiancee alone and asking your online lover for an explanation—with no apologies for finding out about his "real" life. With luck, his having to respond will allow your fever to break.

—Prudie, realistically


Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have been married for almost three months now. I am Asian, and he's an American, the WASP-y type (no offense, in case you are, too). I am wondering if this is a typical American male thing or just him: He only wore his wedding ring once when we had the wedding ceremony, then he took it off the following day, saying he's not used to wearing jewelry. I have seen a lot of married men wearing their wedding rings. He also argues that it makes it easier for him at work because he works in shipping and receiving and handles a lot of boxes, but I still think it's a lame excuse. I am quite offended and hurt by his refusal to wear his ring, but I told myself I am not gonna get mad, I'm gonna get even, so I stopped wearing my own ring. Your ideas?

—Annoyed in L.A.

Dear Ann,

You're safe, Prudie is not a WASP. As for your complaint, there may be an underlying bit of friction in this situation that is manifesting itself in the absence of the ring, which you might want to check into. As for custom and meaning, let's put it this way: Prudie's least favorite husband wore a wedding ring; her most favorite didn't. Many men who cat around are never without their little gold bands. (One such naughty boy told me it was useful to him as a wanderer—both as statement and silent reminder.) Some true-blue husbands do not wear rings because they really don't like jewelry. And Yo-Yo Ma, for example, has to wear his on the wrong hand (his right) because of his work. Prudie hopes you will not let this symbolic metal circle become full of meaning and suggests that you not let it become an issue of "if you love me, you'll wear it."

—Prudie, perspectively


Dear Prudie,

I have a question of etiquette. I have been married once, and we divorced four years ago, amicably. We are still friends, good friends, and talk regularly about things: her new husband, her family, my family, the usual news, weather, and sports. My question is this: I still have my wedding band from my first marriage, tucked away somewhere in a box. It is a simple, white-gold band with no special markings on it and no inscriptions. Although I am not planning on getting married anytime soon, I do know that one day I will return to the altar. Would it be bad form, or "contrary to etiquette," to reuse the ring? I, personally, do not get hung up over the symbolism of the band, who it was originally meant for, or the fact that it is not "new." To me, it is a piece of jewelry worn as a symbol that one is married. How it looks, where is came from, etc., etc., is of little importance to me. However, what say the brokers of good form?

—Curious in L.A.

Dear Cur,

From L.A., yet. Prudie wonders, because of the lady who wrote the letter before yours, what's with you Angelinos and wedding rings. Anyway, Prudie feels lucky she's had so much personal wedding ring experience so she can answer all these questions. How one relates to symbolism and the history of possessions is a very personal thing. Prudie still wears some weddings rings from long-gone donors; she regards them simply as jewelry. She has given one away to the mother of a grandchild. She has tossed one into a fishpond. So you see, there are myriad things one can do with wedding rings. Prudie has one suggestion for you, though. If you do choose to reuse the old wedding ring, do not tell the new recipient where it came from. This might introduce bad karma from which the marriage might never recover.

—Prudie, knowingly