Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Sept. 5 2002 12:24 PM

Snap Out of It!

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 Prudence,

I have a very good female friend who I see maybe once a month for a meal or shopping or a movie. I love her dearly as she is a lovely woman ... but my one pet peeve with her is something I am afraid other women also find annoying and that may drive some of them to not want to spend time with her. When saying goodbye, instead of a hug, or a wave, or a hand shake, or any other kind of friendly gesture, she always reaches around her friends' backs and snaps their bras. She will even grope around for a while to find the band. I have seen her do this with close friends and not-so-close friends. It's not like we're 12 years old; we are well into our 20s. Am I mistaken to think that even though this would be wildly inappropriate behavior from a man that it's passable behavior for a woman? Should I say something to her?

—36 B

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Dear 36,

This girl sounds nuts ... or at best like a case of arrested development. Prudie doesn't know what a "nice" way to say this would be, but the message is this: Keep your hands to yourself because nobody appreciates having their brassieres snapped. Nobody has to put up with this. Tell her a simple "goodbye" will do nicely.

—Prudie, uncomprehendingly

Dear Prudie,

Is there any polite way to tell a friend that the clothes she wears are unsuitable for her? She is a size 24. Over the years she has put on about 130 pounds but still dresses as if she were a sylph. Sometimes the clothes are so tight you can see the cellulite underneath. It's made worse because mutual friends keep telling me how horrid she looks and "why don't I talk to her?" I don't want to hurt her feelings, but I don't want her to be the laughingstock, either. What do you advise?

—Up in Arms

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Dear Up,

Prudie is of two minds about this. One instinct is to say, well, she can see in the mirror; she knows about the articulated cellulite. The other instinct goes to a few lines of a Robert Burns poem (paraphrased, obviously): Oh, if God the giftie gie us/ to see ourselves as others see us. Perhaps a good friend would say, "Until you go down a few dress sizes, perhaps you should consider things that are a little more flattering than what you've been choosing." This may fall under the category of, "Friends don't let friends wear Speedos. Ever." You could even offer to go shopping with her. Yes, now that Prudie is through thinking out loud, she thinks the answer is to clue her in, kindly and supportively. Do not mention the cellulite or the other friends weighing in, pardon the expression.

—Prudie, amicably

Dear Prudence,

I honestly think it may be time to end my relationship ... but I don't know why I'm having a hard time doing it. I don't trust my boyfriend, I don't believe a word he says, and I honestly believe he is cheating on me. I got his voice mail password and have sunk to the lowest of the low by checking his voice mail messages. Some girl keeps leaving him messages saying she's "crazy about him" and she can still "smell his scent on her pillow." I try subtly to bring this girl up, but he denies even knowing her. (I can't tell him I check his messages.) I really do believe in my heart that I love him and would do anything for him. But when he stays out all night and I don't see him until the next evening, or he disappears for hours and doesn't answer his cell phone, I want him gone. He keeps wanting to stay and promises that things will change, but they don't, and it's gotten to a very sad point. Please tell me if this relationship is worth saving.

—Anonymous

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Dear An,

To quote one of the greats, wake up and smell the coffee. You say you "would do anything for him." Unless that includes tolerating a faithless lover and girls phoning up, the answer is clear. You must call it a day, and Prudie hopes with no explanations. He will know that you know. One might make the rationalization that a nut job is leaving the messages, but ... the staying out all night, disappearing, and promising to change suggests that, alas, his scent is on her pillow.

—Prudie, sympathetically

Dear Prudence,

I loved your answer to "
Idiot Magnet." I myself spent decades in the serial company of losers, burn victims, and sociopaths, despite my own education, talent, and success. Why? Who knows? But in my 40s, I decided I needed to firm up my criteria. Based on extensive experience, this boiled down to three requirements, all of which have to be present (not two out of three). I call it the Triple S standard, and it trumps any other illusory charm a suitor might possess. A guy has to be Single, Solvent, and Straight. Women will find this a great and useful qualifier. Once I adopted it, I saved myself a lot of time and trouble. And since I was hell-bent on finding a mate, I let the Triple S be my only criteria for six months. As a consequence, I dated a lot of guys I wouldn't have considered before (i.e., not that great-looking, dorky, eccentric, liked stupid music, etc.) To my great surprise, I fetched a lifelong bachelor, an accomplished scientist with a brilliant sense of humor who was also ready to stop dating losers and find a lifelong mate. We adore each other and married two years ago.

—Michele K. in Seattle

Dear Mich,

Prudie is printing your letter as a public service. May it prove useful to those women with "Walk on me" signs glued to their foreheads.

—Prudie, correctively