Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
March 7 2002 2:13 PM

The World According to Males

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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For all the people who think Prudie is a man, the following feedback will disprove that theory. The answer to "Curious but Wary" drew an avalanche of letters disagreeing—every single one from men. In the interest of fairness, here, in the following two letters, is the unanimous male point of view:

Prudie,

Regarding your letter-writer who wants to date his good friend's ex-girlfriend, I would suggest that the Rules of Guys demand that he talk to his pal before busting any serious moves. Certainly his friend has no claim to his ex, but certainly, given that jealous feelings are inevitable, common courtesy requires a conversation.

—Julian, courteously

Dear Prudie,

Here's a little tip for your male readers: NEVER go out with your buddy's ex-wife or girlfriend. That is the unwritten gentlemen's code. There are plenty of other women out there, so move on. Everyone I know who has ever done this (myself included) has lost a good friend for life. And in my experience, every time this has happened, the girl has done it to get back at the former love interest.

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—Wiser Now

Dear Prudence,

My boyfriend of two and a half years and I have a problem. He has a "pal" that I call a trouble-maker. In the several occasions I have met her, she has never once spoken to me or acknowledged my existence, except when my boyfriend is actually present and can hear how nice she is to me. She has shown up at his home at 3 a.m. "looking to party," and the latest is that she actually slept over on his couch. I honestly do not think he is doing anything except being very naive about this girl's intentions. In his words, he "can't believe" I'm upset about this, insists they are just friends, and says if I trusted him, it wouldn't be a problem. Now Prudence, I was married for almost 10 years and thus out of the dating pool. Have things changed this much, or am I just once again playing the fool by believing him? How can I get him to understand that it's not so much a trust issue as a respect issue? Thank you!

—Silly or Not?

Dear Sil,

The "pal" is definitely on the prowl, and if your dim bulb, I mean, boyfriend, can't see it, you will have to put your foot down. It is, indeed, an issue of respect, both for your feelings and the relationship. Tell what's-his-name that he's never been a woman, and therefore, in this case, he has to take your word for what's going on. If he insists on the "pal" having free rein, tell him he can move her from the couch to the bedroom because you are not sticking around. And the more Prudie thinks about this babe showing up at 3 a.m. "to party" without your boyfriend connecting the dots, the more she thinks you should probably unload him just on general principle.

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—Prudie, huffily

Dear Prudence,

Recently, while working on the computer at my wife's parents' house, I peeked into the history section of the Internet access portal. There I was shocked to see evidence of repeated visits to not only some very cheesy porn sites, but to several Holocaust-denier sites. Now, my father-in-law, who is the primary user of the computer, is the most strait-laced man I know. The visits to the porn areas elicited from me little more than a chuckle, yet I found the Holocaust-denier business quite troubling. In light of the fact that I was "snooping," I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to discuss this matter with my wife or my mother-in-law.

—Perplexed

Dear Perp,

In light of the fact that you were "snooping," it would not be a good idea to discuss this matter with your wife, and certainly not your mother-in-law. What might be interesting, if you can manage to be subtle, would be to weave the general subject of the Holocaust into a future conversation ... and the more future, the better. Should your father-in-law make a connection between your using his computer and your interest in discussing Hitler, he would be perfectly within his rights to lay you low for looking for information that is none of your business.

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—Prudie, privately

Dear Prudie,

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost five years. He spends most of his time at my house, going to his every few days to check mail, mow the yard, etc. He adores my kids and makes sure they have everything they need. He is, in fact, a surrogate father. (Their biological father does not see them of his own accord.) My boyfriend buys the groceries, and I am never out any money, thanks to him. Basically, we are like a married couple with kids. My family and friends like him, and his family and friends like me. The problem is that people are always asking when we are going to get married or why we haven't already. Our relationship works for us, and someday we will get married ... but when WE are ready, not when others think we should. (I am in my late 30s, and he is almost 50, and after bad marriages for both of us, we are gun-shy, so to speak.) How should we respond to people who continue to ask us about our plans without appearing rude?

—Puzzled

Dear Puzz,

Sigh. When will people learn to mind their own business? (Excepting, of course, those of us who are employed to mind everybody's business.) In this instance, the next best thing to saying "Mind your own business" would be to say something light—with just the tiniest barbed edge. Perhaps, "We're not fixing it, because it ain't broke."

—Prudie, pointedly