Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Nov. 7 2002 12:01 PM

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

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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,

My wife and I, both in our mid-20s, have been married now for a little over a year. There are no kids. We have a lifestyle difference that is of major concern to my wife. She is a vegetarian, and I am not. Before we married, we agreed we would not give each other a hard time based on dietary preferences. I am happy with the vegetarian wife I married and would not try to change her. A couple months after we were married, however, my wife attended an animal rights activist conference and was "enlightened." Since the conference, she feels she cannot achieve her goals in life being married to someone who eats animal products. She has stated that she needs to be married to someone who has the same views about animals and who is willing to organize rallies and speak to the public about her cause. I love my wife dearly and told her I support her in what she is doing; however, I don't feel comfortable joining her. She tells me that my respect and support for her aren't good enough. She is getting more radical as time progresses. This issue has created such friction in our marriage that she has asked for a divorce on a few occasions. She has apologized to me that her views have become more radical and says she still loves me but states that the animals are more important than our marriage. Is this marriage salvageable?   

Thank you so much,

—Disturbed

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Dear Dis,

Prudie is afraid the handwriting is on the veal. The good news, though, is that you're really young, the marriage is but a year old, and there are no children. Any girl who agrees to disagree about what you both eat, then decides that "animals are more important than our marriage" and insists you help organize rallies deserves her freedom ... and Prudie hopes she and Bambi will be very happy. (If you are getting the idea there is not a lot of sympathy in this corner for her going overboard for this particular cause, you are correct.)

—Prudie, carnivorously

Prudie,

My mom passed away a year ago, and that prompted my ex and me to talk. He sent his best wishes to me and my family. We have been divorced for over 24 years. We shared a son who passed away after only a few months. As we were talking, we started to talk about why we split up, and that brought up old feelings. He is so easy to talk to now. I would like to be available to him, but I am married ... though one wouldn't say it's a happy marriage. I've been married for 20 years and would find it hard to walk away. I am not being mistreated, exactly, just ignored and taken for granted. So I am writing to you for words of wisdom. Should I just see where things go with the ex or break it off now? 

—Unhappy and Confused

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Dear Un,

You don't say if your wasband is currently married or single, which would change the equation somewhat. Should he be on the loose, it would be easier to "see where things go" before making any decisions. If he is married, however, which would then involve four people, Prudie would suggest you not even throw the dice. And do bear in mind that it is easy to assign miraculous "improvement" to someone you've not been dealing with in nearly a quarter of a century.

—Prudie, numerically

Dear Prudence,

I recently moved back to Australia, where I went to high school, and decided to share a house with an old school friend. After we had moved in, I discovered we were incompatible, to say the least. She is clingy, rude to my friends, and extremely high-maintenance. It's gotten to the point where none of my friends wants to visit my house or attend any social gatherings at which she'll be present. None of this ever showed in her personality before, and I was quite startled to see this side of her. Unfortunately, she appears to have become very attached to me, has decided we'll be best friends forever, and is constantly making plans for the future—involving me. Needless to say, I find this rather unsettling and am not looking forward to announcing my decision to move out on my own when our lease expires in two months. How do I break this to her gently? I have a feeling that telling her that I'm leaving because I simply can't stand living with her anymore might not be the most tactful thing to do. Help!!!

—Freaked-Out Friend

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Dear Freak,

Of course you don't say, dear, that you can't stand it anymore. You tell her that you've learned, from your recent joint experience, that living with another person is something you've decided doesn't work for you, and you need to go it alone. Be vague about any new arrangements—especially if they involve another roommate. If this woman absolutely pushes, then tell her you have no wish to hurt her feelings, but you find your personalities "incompatible" on a daily basis. Good luck—and stick to your guns about what's best for YOU. (There's a slight hint that she might be gay, but if you knew this, then it's certainly a non-issue.)

—Prudie, domestically

Dear Prudence,

I've been at my current job for over two years. During that time, I've become good friends with one of my co-workers, and I think I've fallen in love with him. I'm pretty sure he doesn't feel the same way, as he is currently pining over someone else. I know the logical thing to do is forget him; however, all my attempts to do so have failed. I think about him all the time. I even dream about him. We truly enjoy each other's company, so I don't want us to stop being friends. But I'm afraid if I keep this up, I might become a stalker or something. Please let me know how I can start moving on with my life.   

—Concerned in Cleveland

Dear Con,

You seem to know the words but not the music. The rational part of you realizes the romantic interest is not returned, but you say you can't tear yourself away. It would be in your best interest to get the upper hand on what sounds like an obsession in the making. Probably the best way to do this would be to talk it out with a behavioral or cognitive therapist. With a little good karma (and who knows ... maybe an anti-depressant), you will become strong enough not to weave fantasies where no encouragement exists. Real life is better when it's real life.

—Prudie, realistically