Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
March 13 2003 10:51 AM

The When Harry Met Sally Principle

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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 first boyfriend and I recently broke up after three happy years together. The breakup was amiable, and we are still on talking terms. Since we've been together for so long, we both wish to remain friends, even good friends. Yet we are still attracted to each other, and every time we get together, one thing always leads to another. He sees no problem with this, but I have no intention of continuing in this manner. I also don't want to lose him as a friend. After all, I care deeply for him. Can't two exes just be friends?

—Sincerely,

Tina

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Dear Sin,

Well, they can, but your situation is complicated by the fact that your ex wants to be friends with benefits, and you don't—but you go along with it for old time's sake, shall we say. It doesn't seem like a terribly good basis for a friendship to keep the sex going when the romantic relationship is no more. If this arrangement were acceptable to both of you, that would be another story, but because you are not comfortable with the situation, it is within your power to stop it. If your ex cannot honor the friendship part—all by itself—then there certainly should be no, uh, benefits.

—Prudie, amicably

Dear Prudence,

My half-brother is engaged to be married this spring and has asked me to be the best man. It has recently come to my attention, from several different family members, that he is less than enthusiastic about being married. He has said to other relatives that he's doing it mostly for his fiancee and not because it's what he wants. I have heard about and seen many instances in which she exerts great control over what he eats, watches, sees, and what functions he attends and when he leaves. I believe that the other family members are bringing these things to my attention in hopes that I (the only family member experienced with divorce) will talk to him about it, and one has said as much. I speculate that part of the reason they think I am the person to do it stems from the fact that I'm only peripherally attached to the family. I am reluctant to do so, but if my marriage experience with a very controlling person can prevent him from going through a difficult marriage, shouldn't I try?

—Half in the Family

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Dear Half,

Prudie thinks yes. And if we give best-man status the broadest interpretation, it may in fact be your duty to speak up. Your own prior experience with a clinker marriage does count for something, and the fact that you were asked to perform this function means the prospective groom has high regard for you. If you couch your advice about not going through with the marriage in gentle, supportive terms, you will have done what you think is the right thing. Should he become angry and "disinvite" you, well, "que sera, sera."

—Prudie, courageously

Dear Prudence,

My wife and I were recently invited to a formal wedding at the church we regularly attend. The registry was enclosed with the invitation, indicating where gifts could be bought, yet there was no mention about a reception following the wedding. After the ceremony, my wife inquired about it and was told that the reception was private and that unless we had received a notice in our invitation, we were not invited. This seems rather odd—to ask for gifts from everyone but have a closed and limited reception for only some of the wedding guests. Are we out of the loop, or is this proper etiquette for the new millennium?

—Static Reception

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Dear Stat,

ODD? How about disgraceful? This would surely be on anyone's top-10 list of tasteless, tacky behavior and social missteps. Prudie hopes you have no further contact with these people, unless you have need of clueless, grasping, rude people in your life.

—Prudie, harumphingly

Dear Prudie,

This may sound a tad insecure, but, being a newlywed, one can't help but have my concern. I've been hearing rumors that my husband of three months might not be wearing his ring. He was seen going to the movies, and one of my friends said that he wasn't wearing his ring, which bothered her since she was one of the people at our wedding. How would you suggest I go about asking him if this is true, and, if it is, telling him that since we took our vows, at least respect them enough to wear the ring? If I'm wearing his, he definitely should be wearing mine. I mean, a girl has to watch out for others; if they don't see a ring, they instantly think a guy is available. I know how shifty some women can be. Can you give me some advice, before I have to choke some bimbo out here?

—Watchdog Wife

Dear Watch,

To wear or not to wear a wedding ring is usually agreed to before the wedding. Many men choose not to. Prudie has heard from men in different professions, for example, where any ring is dangerous at work. And just FYI, many players wear wedding rings, and for whatever loony reason, they attract women. If, however, you think your newish hubby is ditching his ring for nefarious reasons, by all means ask him what it means when he goes to the movies and takes his ring off. This is certainly something that falls under the category of discussable. And P.S.: Prudie is not sure what she thinks of your girlfriend, the wedding ring policeman.

—Prudie, talkatively