Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
July 31 2003 11:29 AM

Kiss, But Don'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've known a guy for three months now. He lives in Seattle, and I am in New England. Over my spring break, he came to visit me. We had a wonderful time together. We kissed a couple times. Imagine, it was the first time I kissed a guy, and I am 25! When the break ended, he went back to Seattle. Just recently he told me that I am a terrible kisser—that I did not know how to reply to a kiss. I really love this guy. Because I do not know how to kiss properly, he wants to break up with me. He said, "Either you take some sort of kissing class, or this relationship is over." What should I do? I do not want to lose him. Any ideas on how to kiss a guy?

—Terrible Kisser

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Dear Ter,

Prudie does have some ideas, but they are not easily communicated via the written word. Alas, some things are easier done than said. It is also unclear what this person meant by "reply." He might have meant kissing him back … or something else. To Prudie's knowledge, there are no "kissing classes." The technique is just something one picks up along the way. Looking at the big picture, however, Prudie does not care for the way this chap stuck it to you. In addition, you two would have quite a commute. Perhaps the wise thing to do, given the circumstances, is to write him off. You and he had an unpleasant beginning, and it seems unlikely the two of you could … well, kiss and make up. Onward.

—Prudie, regretfully

Dear Prudence,

I am having a very small wedding, and I am not inviting "and guest"s. My fiance's brother has been seeing "Sandy" for over a year. He has told us they are "taking it one day at a time" and that he is seeing three or four other women. Based on this, I chose not to invite Sandy. When he found out, he said I was being rude. I relented and agreed to send an invitation to her at her home. He responded that I could not do that because her husband might see it and ask questions. Yes, that's right. Apparently Sandy is married. Now I'm really against having her. I feel that someone who does not believe in marriage (as witnessed by her yearlong affair) would spoil the ceremony. Also, I don't want everyone spending the day pointing at her and whispering. (This will be the first family event since her marriage came to light.) How can I politely tell my brother-in-law-to-be all of this, or at the very least not invite Sandy?

—Not Amused

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Dear Not,

Prudie empathizes with you and shares your outlook on the situation, but the married girlfriend reflects on your future brother-in-law, not on you. The fact that "Sandy" "does not believe in marriage" is a non-starter. If the private lives and beliefs of wedding guests determined whether or not they were invited, there would be a scarcity of fannies in those little folding chairs. You are, alas, stuck with Sandy, and the answer to your actual question—how to invite her? —is this: Have Romeo … the one with three or four other girlfriends, hand-deliver the invitation. Now, forget about Sandy, have a lovely day, and mazel-ton, which, of course, means tons of luck.

—Prudie, matrimonially

Dear Prudence,

My girlfriend and I often disagree about how to say no to our 3-year-old son—e.g., when he wants us to buy yet another toy car. Whereas she prefers to be strict ("He has to learn he cannot have everything"), I always try to find a compromise, which upsets her. It seems so important to me to let him know that his wishes do matter. Sometimes I say that I don't have enough money with me. Admittedly this may be called a lie, but it is a little deception intended to help him. Most people seem to agree that a father and mother have to demonstrate unity, but I really have difficulty with this. It seems like a ridiculous power struggle to me. And isn't that a lie, too? Any advice on how to reach a family consensus?

—Thank you,

Unsure

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Dear Un,

Parental agreement, with both parents saying the same thing, is simply less confusing for a child. This, alas, is not always achievable and should not be seen as a struggle for dominance. The child's mother is on the right track, however, in that every whim does not have to be indulged. Your approach is to cave in to keep the peace, which is taking the path of least resistance. As for the convenient lie, there is no need to skirt the truth. A child old enough to talk—and to ask for things—is old enough to become familiar with the concept of "No." It is really all right to tell a 3-year-old that now is not the time for another toy car … that when you get home, he can play with the ones he already has. A child's wishes do matter, but you can communicate this by hearing him out. Some kids never wish to go to bed, either, but the bottom line is: Who is really in charge?

—Prudie, authoritatively

Dear Prudence,

I am a 25-year-old single father with custody of my 5-year-old son. He has lived with me since my divorce several years ago. My friends and co-workers call me "Mr. Mom" because I've raised him on my own, even while I was married. His mother (my ex-wife) has a habit of coming back into our lives every eight to 10 months. She claims to have "changed" and is ready to be the mom and wife she never was. All is good for two weeks, until she turns into her old self again (staying out all night, disappearing on weekends, slacking financially). Then I become so outraged at her behavior I have no choice but to tell her to take a hike. She's done this three times in the past three years. I love her, my son loves her, and it's so hard for us to say no when she does try to come back. My parents dislike her with a passion for doing this, but I keep giving in. What do you recommend?

—Sincerely,

Confused

Dear Con,

You need to stop giving in, and you must learn from "history," lest you spend your life repeating it. Something akin to tough love is required here. This girl needs the kind of help, i.e., therapy, that you are not equipped to provide. Because you are legally divorced and have custody, simply tell her, the next time she shows up, that it's better for your son if she is not continually coming in and going out of his life. Put your foot down and really mean it when you tell her that she chose, by her behavior, to live outside the family, and that is the way it must be. And Prudie is certain you will tell the little boy that his mother loves him a great deal; she is just not well or able to look after him.

—Prudie, wistfully