Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 2 2003 11:16 AM

Flirting With Disaster

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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,

I am a 26-year-old woman, married with three kids. Life is good for the most part, and I am happy as a stay-at-home mom. My husband and I have a great relationship; we are best of friends, and when we're doing things together as a couple or a family, we have the best time. Our sex life is good, and we're very happy for the most part. Here's the problem: I don't find him attractive. I think I married him because we were such great friends. He finds me attractive and extremely sexy for a mom of three. I don't want to end the relationship, and I definitely don't want to cheat. But I find my self flirting and becoming attracted to very handsome men. Should I stay in a marriage where I'm not attracted to my partner, or should I try and find happiness with a man I AM attracted to? I don't want to lose my husband as a great friend. I do love him.

—Frazzled in -------

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Dear Fraz,

Prudie has redacted the city you live in to avert a stampede of women from moving there in hopes of finding your husband. To be in a marriage with a great friend, enjoying a good relationship, great times, a good sex life, and general happiness is pretty much all there is. TRY to remember when you did find him attractive and why. Take it from Prudie, the handsome thing wears thin. (Plus, low lights—or no lights—often set the scene in the bedroom.) If it takes a therapist to get your head back on straight, go! And give up the flirting with handsome men. If there is a simple mantra for you to repeat to yourself, it is this: The other lane always moves faster.

—Prudie, pleadingly

Dear Prudence,

I am a 28-year-old woman with a "healthy" sex drive. I enjoy the fun and intimacy of making love to someone I care deeply about. A few months ago, an acquaintance told me that one of my past boyfriends was telling people that he felt that something was wrong with me because sex was all I ever wanted—all the time. At first I was extremely hurt by this remark, then it made me angry. He never complained about it when we were together. He thought it was just great. Although some people will just ignore his remarks, others will think badly of me ... you know how the old double standard goes, "If a guy likes it, it's OK; if a girl likes it, she's a slut." Besides, why is he still talking about me? Our relationship ended over seven years ago. I want to be the bigger person and just laugh it off, but it's humiliating. How do I deal with this situation?

—Livid

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Dear Liv,

Seven years ago???!!! Whoever is dumb enough to repeat this to you deserves a big-eyed stare—and no response. But if you feel you must say something, try repeating the same three words Prudie used to begin her answer here. As for why Sir Galahad is shopping this information around at this late date, you are still on his mind, and he harbors anger toward you, for whatever reason. Maybe it's because he is missing ... well, never mind. And try to get your head around the truism that none of us can control what other people say. Don't give this big-mouth any more thought. It will be a good way to ring in the New Year.

—Prudie, rationally

Hi Prudence,

I've been with a young man who I decided was The One, and he likewise. His family is very religious while mine is not. He is not religious, though, and told me he wanted to be married by a justice of the peace. Well, the slippery slope revealed itself when we told that to his parents. They threw a fit. His father declared he wasn't going to the wedding, called me morally bankrupt, and told me my children would rot in hell. His mother cried and told me I was corrupting her son by turning him against God. He never stood up for me or himself. Since this has happened, I have received harassing phone calls from his mother and instant messages from his sister. Eventually I had to block their phone numbers. That didn't stop his parents, though, because they got hip to what I did and started calling on their cell phones. My beau got a cell phone to receive their calls just to alleviate the stress it was causing me. This prompted distress to
my mother and father and THEY threatened to get involved. My question is, how do I handle this? Do I handle it at all? I adore their son; he showers me with affection, gifts, and love, and has treated me better than anyone has treated me before. Can one deal with familial BS without losing one's mind, or is this just a losing battle?

—Troubled

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Dear Troub,

These people are nuts. Though it may sound harsh, because your young man hasn't done anything—except not stick up for you—you will have to tell him that if the marriage is to go forward, he must essentially ring off from his family ... which it sounds like he may just be overjoyed to do. If he won't do this, you will be living in what amounts to a witness protection program, only the outlaws chasing you down will be your in-laws. If your intended can allow you to be threatened with harassing calls, damnation, and similar claptrap, you really have to call it off. Prudie recommends that you tell him that, in addition to affection, gifts, and love, he needs to add a declaration of independence—his. Good luck.

—Prudie, liberatedly

Dear Prudence,

I'll be brief. Should a married woman confess her sexual affair to her husband after it has ended? If so, how should it be worded? With details? If not, what if something comes out sometime in the future? Please help.

—Scarlet A

Dear Scar,

The old saying "Confession is good for the soul" never does specify which one. The confessor's, maybe ... but hardly ever the listener's. Nothing is to be gained in the instance you mention, except mistrust, a boatload of hurt, and probably anger. There are, of course, times when confessing IS the right thing to do: If a couple is in counseling, for example ... or there are strong suspicions and getting back on track requires truth-telling. If your husband has no clue, however, the situation does not beg for clarification. If you concur with this opinion, then "suggested wording" becomes unnecessary, as do "details." And should your infidelity be discovered in the future, that becomes a different problem. Reading between the lines says that you want to make a stronger marriage, so try to make amends with renewed commitment. That way you will be able to work through your guilt, as opposed to just blurting out information about something you say is over.

—Prudie reparationally