Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Aug. 14 2003 10:43 AM

The Case Against Slumber Parties

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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 wonderful daughter will be 17 this fall. She is a good student and a gifted athlete. She is a beautiful girl, although in her words "not a Barbie doll type or a girlie girl." She loves makeup and jewelry and enjoys the admiring stares she receives from boys. She also seems to think she is "bi." We have talked about this, but I'm confused about the subject. My son, who is in his mid-20s, says that a lot of girls he knew in high school "fooled around." I don't know where to go for more information. Is it possible that she is actually a lesbian but afraid to admit it to me or to herself? She is a virgin but has "messed around" with boys and girls. The big question is: Should I allow her to have girls sleep over if I suspect that she is attracted to one of them? I am a 53-year-old woman with a fairly open mind, but this is a little over my head. Thank you.

—Questioning Mother

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Dear Quest,

"Fooling around" is now definitely a happening thing with girls—bordering on a fad—and it seems to go beyond what we used to call "experimenting." Prudie has some friends who've lived through this with their daughters, and the situations have resolved in college or a year or two after. Alas, they have resolved both ways, so there's no formulaic answer. Regarding sleeping over, barring your daughter's girlfriends from sleepovers will not alter her sexual inclination. You do raise an interesting point, however. A high-school girl would not be allowed to have a boyfriend sleep over, so it's a gray area where two girls are romantically inclined. Without direct knowledge, however, Prudie would not exclude sleepover company. In any case, count yourself lucky that your daughter is this open with you. For more information, try Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Their e-mail address is info@pflag.org, and their phone number is (202) 467-8180.

—Prudie, watchfully

Dear Prudence,

I know love is about more than just looks or a nice body, but something is bothering me. My wife and I have been married for almost two years now. A few months ago, we were talking about some friends and how they were discussing peoples' looks. Suddenly it hit me that my wife had never told me I was attractive or good-looking or handsome or anything, so I just thought I'd ask her. When I did, she floored me by telling me that I was "OK" and that I probably thought I was exceptionally good-looking but that I was just average. I know being honest is really nice, but isn't there such a thing as being too honest? Since then, she is always talking about how the guys on TV and in movies are real hunks. The other night we were watching a TV show, and there was a really good-looking guy (to her at least), and it turned out he was gay. My wife joked, "Darn, all the good-looking ones are gay." I said, "Well, I'm not gay," and she said, "Yeah, I know." And that was it. I don't mean to sound insecure, but all my life I have thought of myself as above average, and I feel one's wife should find him fairly attractive. When I asked her again, she still would not say I am attractive to her. She says that I am sweet. But I am concerned that she may find someone who's good-looking and then begin to find HIM "sweet."

—Lost in Looks Limbo

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Dear Lost,

There are two unfortunate things going on here. One is the need of Miss Tactful & Diplomatic to be "honest." The other is your homing in on this issue in the first place. It is a fact of life that even people who may not be objectively attractive seem so to the people who love them. And as anyone who's married a drop-dead gorgeous mate can attest, the looks aspect fades with time—as do the looks. Affection for someone is much more tied to personality. Prudie thinks your wife is either thoughtless or passive-aggressive and probably given to a fan-magazine mentality. Try to get past this subject because not being movie-star handsome is not yet grounds for divorce.

—Prudie, inconsequentially

Hi Prudie,

My boyfriend's mother is a nightmare. She is obsessed with him. If we don't answer the phone when she calls, she calls every 20 minutes until we do answer. That's on our home phone and both of our mobiles, one after the other. She actually confessed to getting jealous if we hug and kiss in front of her. She avoids her friends if she thinks they will interfere with her time with him. If I am going out for the day, she invites herself over while I'm gone. It is creepy. I get the impression she wants to give up her role as mother to be his girlfriend, and it is sick. Am I nuts?

—Halfway Out the Door

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Dear Half,

You're not nuts; she is. And one might wonder what's up with your boyfriend that he puts up with this. What you describe is an abnormal, unhealthy situation. Call off the romance now before you are arrested for homicide.

—Prudie, affirmatively

Dear Prudence,

My husband received an e-mail at our home e-mail address from an online dating service. I did a little snooping and found that my husband actually had a profile with a lot of personal information on it, including his job and his salary. His password was even the name of our dog. I confronted him about it, and he denied ever having anything to do with it. He said he had never heard of this site and never filled out a profile. When I asked him how they got all of this information, he said he didn't know and thought perhaps it was someone playing a joke. He even went as far as to name a few individuals who may have done this. The only problem is that these people would have no idea how much he makes or any of the other personal information. And they would have no reason to do this to him or to me. I'm still very upset about it. The profile indicated that he was interested in a physical relationship/fling, but our sex life is great. What do I do?

—Extremely Uneasy

Dear Ex,

Agreed, this does not look good for your husband. The dog's name as a password … maybe … but the salary and other personal information is unlikely to be known by friends. And this would be a prank very different in spirit from receiving a pizza you did not order. For whatever it's worth, you aren't the only one dealing with this situation. In your case, however, because you say your sex life is good and your husband has denied, denied, denied being on a cybersearch for sex, assume that your discussion has served as a warning, and continue as if nothing has happened. Until something does.

—Prudie, vigilantly