Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
June 27 2002 12:19 PM

All in the Family

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.)

Note: A word of thanks to the countless readers who took time to send warm words of condolence upon learning of the death of Prudie's mother. All the kind words were most appreciated.

Dear Prudie,

I am having a serious problem with my family. My best friend of half my life (I am only in my early 20s) is now dating my dad. My mother just passed away a year ago, and my best friend used to date my younger brother. I have so much hatred for the both of them. I pick and choose my friends, and she will never be my friend again, but my dad, on the other hand, will always be my father. Right now I hate him. He is letting her move in, and they have only been dating two and a half weeks. I'm not sure if he is grieving or just thinking with the wrong head. Please help me.

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—Dizzy

Dear Diz,

The help you want, Prudie can't deliver; that is, to miraculously have your father behave with decorum and dignity. Any fairly recently widowed man who, not three weeks after starting a romance, begins living with a girlfriend the age of his daughter (who formerly went with his son!) is beyond help. Just try to hold your head high because your dad's rotten judgment is no reflection on you. All you can do is hope that, at some point, he wakes up, wises up, or grows up. Unfortunately, your father, right now, sounds so nuts and thoughtless there's a possibility your former buddy could become your stepmother. Steel yourself, my dear, and perhaps prepare for an estrangement. Some behavior need not be supported.

—Prudie, sympathetically

Dear Prudence,

I am a single 35-year-old female with no children. I am a college graduate with a fairly nice job. My problem is, I attract men who are too needy. A few days ago, I wrote down the names of three men I dated and described their qualities. It amazed me to discover that they were all men going through difficult situations at the time I met them. I dated these men while they were down, yet when they got back on their feet, they broke it off. And they have all told me that the women they found to marry are all just like me—except they all have children with somebody else! The last guy I dated actually wanted me to introduce him to some women because of his chronic shyness and inability to communicate. (Actually, this is why I dated him. I felt sorry for the guy.) Can you please advise me on how I can become more bum-repellant? I need help!

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—Idiot Magnet

Dear Id,

What you need to do is make your list BEFORE the romance gets started ... not after it falls apart. Some women are almost magnetized to find guys with baggage, and you are apparently one of them. Something in your personality makes you responsive to problem-laden, injured souls. You may need to put in some time with a therapist to find out where this comes from ... but in the meantime, make it a rule not to date men who are in crisis, in debt, or in a funk. Prudie predicts that when you select a man who is more put together than the ones you've been picking, things will not blow apart, and you will be able to kick the habit of being a rehabilitation institute. Then, as if by magic, the neon lights on your forehead that say "Walk on me" will go off.

—Prudie, correctively

Dear Prudence,

I am sending out a "just got married" mass e-mail to all my friends in the world, along with a picture showing me and the noticeably pregnant love of my life in the midst of doing the deed. Getting married, that is, not the other thing. Anyway, I am hesitating as to whether to send this e-mail to a significant ex-girlfriend. I figure she'll get the news through friends anyway, and the mass e-mail would come off as a sort of screw-you message. On the other hand, if she is deliberately left off the list and does hear through friends,
that might come off as a screw-you message. Or perhaps I am just using the latter notion as a rationalization because secretly I would actually like to send her a screw-you message. What do you think?

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—Old Grudgy

Dear Old,

Prudie thinks you should take the high road, be a mensch, and send the significant ex a handwritten note letting her know you've tied the knot. She doesn't need to see a picture of Mrs. Grudgy—who's preggers yet—at least from you. (But rest assured, some "good friend" will show it to her.) Now that you are blissfully happy, why would you want to stick it to her? Trust Prudie—you will feel better about it, as time goes on, if you do it the classy way.  

—Prudie, graciously

Dear Prudence,

I'm a younger girl, just getting into college, and I had this affair for a few months with an older man (30 years old to be exact) who just happened to be married. This was really bad of me, I know, but I can't change the past, and the problem is that, if given the chance, I would do the same thing over AGAIN. I know that all it was to him was sex (and it was pretty damn good), even though he made it feel like it was so much more than that. I find myself e-mailing him daily, looking for his car while I'm out and about driving ... sometimes I even drive by his house. Now I am not emotionally satisfied with relationships with guys my age. I keep wanting him ... or someone just like him. I feel like such a freak! I have tried to get over it. No luck so far, even though I do realize that nothing will come of the relationship.

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—Confused, Freaky Person

Dear Con,

Ah, but something will come of it. Time will make you increasingly more fixated and disgusted with yourself. You are already coming close to being a stalker. Prudie knows it is hard to talk to oneself, but give it a try. Say, "Self, there's a reason an army of women say they wish to heaven they'd never gone down that path." The reason you find guys your age uninteresting is because you are obsessing about this unattainable man. Perhaps, as a support group, you might try www.gloryb.com. It's for the been-there-done-that crowd ... women who know from extramarital affairs.

—Prudie, historically   

A little note to everyone about the letter from "Expecting More Trouble": A few readers wrote to point out that Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas wedding chapels are usually not Catholic priests ... therefore, the couple is not considered to be married by the church ... therefore, a divorce would have no bearing on their religious situation.