Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
June 12 2003 11:14 AM

Not Asked, Shouldn't Tell

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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 have recently learned some secondhand information that is tearing me up. Apparently, my brother's teenage son (my nephew), told my son that he is gay. My son became disturbed by this information and confided this to my boyfriend. As the information trail continued, my boyfriend told me, making me promise to not say anything. Now I'm torn between keeping my promise to withhold this knowledge or informing my brother and his wife of their son's situation. One side of me feels that I should keep my big mouth shut, and the other side feels that if this boy is confused about his sexuality, maybe he might be able to get some help early on. Adding to my stress is the fact that I was the one to inform my brother about his oldest son being involved with drugs. (After which my brother and his wife did get help for that boy, and he appears to be on the right path now.) This is a touchy situation that will affect my younger nephew the rest of his life, and I don't know what I should do.

—Torn About What To Do

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Dear Torn,

Prudie hopes you will go along with the side of you that thinks you should keep your mouth shut. You cannot betray the young man to his parents. If he was ready to tell them, he would have done so already. And please do not lump drug-taking and homosexuality together. Drug taking is illegal, debilitating, mind-altering, and harmful to one's studies or career. Being gay is a sexual instinct. Whereas you alerted your brother to the substance-abuse problem, there is no clinic or program or methadone for homosexuality. Because the young man confided in your son, you might ask him to suggest to his cousin that if he's feeling confusion, or wants information, he should go the school psychologist about where and how to work out his feelings on the subject. Having brought the information to his cousin, it would be perfectly natural for his cousin to follow up with a useful suggestion.

—Prudie, informationally

Dear Prudence,

I'm having a problem at work with the man I sit next to. He is constantly looking over my shoulder and telling me that I'm doing things wrong and he can do them better. I've talked to my boss about it, who tries to keep us working on separate projects to make him less interested. However, he goes behind my back after I've gone for the day and changes stuff that I've been working on. I try to do what the Good Book says and "turn the other cheek," but I'm not sure how much more I can take. I'm starting to feel like a doormat. The other day, he again attacked me with how I was doing something "wrong," and I thanked him for his idea and told him I'd let him know if I had any questions, later, about it. Then he went on to call me some pretty colorful names. I just don't know how to handle him. I've asked if I could be moved away from him, but there is really nowhere else to go. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

—Trying To Work in Peace

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Dear Try,

These are unacceptable working conditions. If you don't have an HR department, which sounds as though that might be the case, you need to have another talk with your boss and tell him this man has made the workplace an unfriendly place for you and that you regard his interplay with you as harassment. Tell him the man needs to drastically alter his behavior or be terminated. Prudie thinks your boss will get the message this time. It would be much more in his interest to solve your problem rather than defend a harassment suit.

—Prudie, functionally

Dear Prudie,

Several months ago, my friend ended a two-year friendship with a guy she was in love with, though he claims he was never romantically interested in her. Per my friend, their time together alternated between drinking, making out, and fighting. They were never dating or a "couple." The problem is this: Even though she claims to be over this guy, she seems to have many unresolved issues and is taking it out on her friends. She gets angry if any of us say "hi" to the guy if we see him. She was furious because she found out he's been dating an acquaintance of ours and no one rushed to the phone to advise her of it. She used to be friends with the girl he's dating but now can't stand to be in the same room with her and tries to force the rest of us to leave if we see the girl at a party. My friend thinks we are traitors and sulks and snaps at us if we don't react to situations the same way she does. My friend is an adult in her 20s and has been carrying on in this manner for almost two years! Short of slapping her and screaming, "Get the hell over it," what can a friend do?

—Frustrated Beyond Belief

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Dear Frus,

A friend can become an ex-friend. Why should anyone put up with sulking, snapping, denying, and blaming? And for two years, no less. This girl sounds like she's not wrapped real tight, and it's perfectly fitting for your group to take themselves out of the line of fire. If, for old time's sake, you want to be helpful, suggest therapy as a means for her to deal with her angry obsession. There is clearly a lot she doesn't understand.

—Prudie, finally

Dear Pru,

Two Saturdays ago, my husband went to a party, with my blessing. It was a business party, so I figured everything would be fine. Boy, was I wrong. My husband came home the next morning. He insisted he slept in his truck because he'd had too much to drink and didn't want to get a ticket if he was stopped. Well, of course I couldn't prove any wrongdoing. We made up a couple of days later. Approximately three days after our makeup session, I developed a burning and itching—I need not tell you where—and he's got it, too. My doctor is treating me for an infection (chlamydia), but my lab results won't get back till next week. He went to his doctor because he says he wanted to prove my doctor wrong. According to him, his doc says he's got a yeast infection. Can that be possible? Am I being stupid for wanting to believe him? If my results come back and I do have chlamydia, what do I do? I know he's going to deny it. I love him, and I don't want to leave him, but I can't stand not trusting him. 

—Distraught

Dear Dis,

Prudie is not going to begin practicing gynecology at this late date, but the good news is that your doctor can answer your questions. As for the relationship part, there is nothing like being drunk in a truck to cause friction at home, not to mention burning and itching. It is tempting to put his excuse for your ailment in the same category as the dog eating the homework. You will have to weigh the history between you and whether or not your trust in anything he says is totally shot. And no, you are not stupid for wanting to believe him. You are just hoping against hope that what he says is true.

—Prudie, apprehensively