Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Aug. 8 2002 12:04 PM

Stop This Relationship! I Wanna Get Off

9_dearprudence_01

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.)

Dear Prudie,

I met a wonderful man, and within a month he asked me to marry him. I told him yes but it would have to be a long engagement. We have planned to be engaged for at least a year. After two more weeks, he suggested we move in together. He pays one-half of all the expenses; has a great job, is a very loving person. What scares me is that things seem too smooth. He has accepted everything about me, has joined committees that I am on, and wants me to share in his trust fund. All my friends and his tell me he is "head over heels." I really feel like I'm being smothered. I've insisted that he join other committees on his own and have blocked out two nights a week to work out. The best part is he brought his dog! The dog is messy and very demanding. When we are being intimate, she sits in the corner of the room with her head down and whines. If we are trying to have some quiet time, she is pushy in getting his attention. I would like for him to get rid of the dog, but I don't want to be a demanding witch. HELP!

—E.D.

Advertisement

Dear E.,

Are there guards keeping you in this situation? You sound as though you're being held against your will. This whole thing was awful fast. After a month the "wonderful man" proposed; two weeks after that, the moving van pulled up. There's the trust fund ... but then there's the dog. This chap certainly sounds agreeable, if clingy. Prudie suggests you work out the kinks and see how you feel in six months. You ought to discuss with him, in depth, your wish that the two of you function as autonomous beings. And while you're at it, request that Fido watch an old movie (in another room) while the two of you are getting cozy ... but don't suggest de-accessioning the dog. If she were mistaking the piano legs for trees ... maybe, but wanting his attention is not a good enough reason. There are clearly things to work out—the usual result of things moving quickly—but do try not to be neurotic and say, "Things are too good, he is too amenable, something must be wrong."

—Prudie, developmentally

Dear Prudie,

I had a colleague in her 20s who had just finished her master's degree. This was her third job. She was horrible at it. She was an entry level sales associate who would roll her eyes when I instructed her to learn more about our products because you cannot sell what you do not understand. She has the mentality of a 12-year-old (and not a very bright one—I have a 12-year-old and I am a scout leader, so I speak with some modicum of experience). I am sure I looked like a complete failure as a supervisor; I can only work with what they give me—but I digress. This girl found another job and put in her notice but then, from her new job, started e-mailing her work to our offices, asking me how to do it! Now she is e-mailing me AND calling me on the phone to ask me how to do her work at her new job. I have told her that I cannot help her because I am busy at my job. She persists, then pouts! How blunt do I need to be? I think her new employer will eat her for lunch soon.

—Supervisor

Advertisement

Dear Supe,

It's a close call as to which quality has dominance: this girl's chutzpah or her Dutch elm disease. You really do get to cut her off—with as much bluntness as it takes. Tell her you are no longer "co-workers," you have too much work of your own to do, and you wish her all the best. Over and out. (And Prudie guesses you are right about her employer and lunch.)

—Prudie, finally

Dear Prudence,

My boss is retiring, and I'm the one making preparations for his retirement party. I unknowingly extended an invitation to someone that he does not want to attend. Any tips on how to rescind an invitation from someone without telling them the truth (that the guest of honor just doesn't want you there)? PLEASE HELP!!!!

—Whoops-a-Daisy

Advertisement

Dear Whoops,

An invitation, once proffered, cannot be withdrawn without great embarrassment for everyone involved—in this case, you, the recipient, and the honoree. I would come clean with your boss, admit the mistake, and ask him to try to pretend that what's-his-name is invisible on the night of the party. If the boss is a decent person, he'll understand. And if he isn't, well ... he'll be gone ... so you need not worry too much.

—Prudie, correctly

Dear Prudence,

I was recently asked by my brother-in-law to stand up in his wedding. His sister (my wife) knows that I can't stand the guy. My wife tells me that he is aware of how I feel about him, but he asked me to be in his wedding anyway. I hesitated but said yes. I felt that it was "political" move to stay in good relations with my father-in-law and mother-in-law, as well as my wife, who feels that I was correct in agreeing to be in the wedding. Is there a "good" way of saying "No"?

—Joe

Dear Joe,

Not when you've already said yes. (See above.)

—Prudie, repetitiously