Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Oct. 30 2003 8:33 AM

Liar, Liar

Taking a lie detector test to save a relationship.

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Dear Prudence,

My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over a year and a half. He is absolutely my best friend, and I am his. I think because we live in different states and aren't together all the time, he's prone to thinking I sometimes do things and don't tell him. He has issues with trusting me and is oftentimes suspicious when we are apart. Recently he asked me about taking a lie detector test. I told him I would do it if this were really the proof he needed, not believing he was serious. Well, apparently he was because he told me two days ago that he'd made an appointment. (His father is an attorney and has people who conduct polygraph tests for him.) It literally made me sick to my stomach when he told me. After watching my reaction, he felt bad and told me that I didn't have to take it. Honestly, I am not angry that he wants me to do this. I am more hurt than anything. But I feel that if I don't do it, he will think I am hiding something ... and if I do take it, I'm scared to death I will freak out and fail the test. I'm feeling a lot of anxiety over the whole thing. What am I supposed to do?

—Torn

Dear Tor,

Get ready for him to ask for a food-taster and someone to dust for fingerprints. Prudie does not offer diagnoses to her correspondents, but she will admit that the word "paranoia" is foremost in her mind right now. You do not say why this chap mistrusts you, but if there is no reason you can think of, then you need a new best friend, and he needs a shrink. It doesn't seem like a good idea to get more involved with a man for whom your word is less reliable than hooking you up to a machine. His approach to a romantic partnership is insulting and is most likely a preview of coming attractions should you stick around.

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—Prudie, skeptically

Dear Prudence,

Here is my question. What is the smartest way to respond when a total stranger asks me if the 3-year-old boy next to me is my grandchild? I am a 37-year-old woman. I look great for my age. I exercise, take care of my skin, and I'm not overweight. I have been approached by two different men on two different occasions who have asked me, in front of my son, "The boy, is he your grandchild?" I perceive the intention of embarrassing us by asking the question.

—Marie

Dear Mar,

Prudie has no idea what to make of this; she also wonders why these people are even asking the question. It is in the same danger zone as asking a woman who is overweight if she's pregnant. Because you seem to feel that this inquiry will be repeated, perhaps be prepared to counter with, "Why do you ask?" In other words, throw the uncomfortable question back at the questioner. And then perhaps don't stick around for the answer.

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—Prudie, reactively

Dear Prudence,

Much to my delight, I am marrying a wonderful man next year. I have a very dear male friend whom we want to be in the ceremony. The problem is that he is dating a woman who refuses to speak to me because she is convinced I am going to jump her boyfriend. (She feels the same about all his female friends, most of whom are no longer his friends because of her.) Although I try to make an effort to be kind to her to reassure her that her jealousy is unfounded, she constantly rebuffs my efforts. I realize I cannot get my friend to stop dating this psychotic woman, but do I have to invite a person who isn't speaking to me to my wedding? I do not want my small wedding invaded by this nastiness. My friend is aware of the situation and does not condone her behavior but puts up with it. So must I ask this wretched woman to come?

—Bride (Fit) To Be (Tied)

Dear Bride,

In a word, yes. If you want your dear friend to come, the green-eyed head case comes, too. Short of excluding your friend, you are stuck. And you're not technically inviting her, if that makes you feel better. She very neatly fits into the category of "and guest." The upside is the fact that you say this woman refuses to speak to you. Given the situation, this is definitely a plus. Silent hostility is much easier to ignore than the vocal kind. Just don't make eye contact, and that way you can privately "disappear" her from your group of guests. And a small strategic suggestion: Try to imagine the agita suffered by a woman who thinks every female within radar range is after her boyfriend. The poor girl will probably be wishing the champagne were Mylanta.

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—Prudie, festively

Dear Prudence,

I have been married for 28 years to a wonderful man but have also been involved with another man for 20 years ... someone I can't seem to give up. My husband has never been very sexual, and lately he has been having health problems, so our sex life is almost nonexistent. On the other hand, the "other guy" is attentive and a tiger in bed. We see each other as often as possible, but he will not tell me that he loves me. (He did a couple of times but hasn't in a long time.) Still, he shows his love for me in other ways, and even when I'm unavailable to him, he's always there. He shows concern and patience in so many ways. He, too, is married. Although we both know it's wrong, we can't give each other up. Do you think this man genuinely cares for me but won't commit (e.g., say "I love you") because he knows I can't leave my marriage? Please advise—this is driving me crazy!

—LB

Dear L,

The "I love you" business is an unambiguous sign that the guy is a withholding type. It's his not all that subtle (or conscious) way of letting you know that this is an illicit affair and nothing more. You have settled—for 20 years, yet—for a bed partner who cannot bring himself to tell you he loves you, even though he knows it matters to you. This man gets off on keeping you in a supplicant's position. But interestingly, it's not a deal-breaker because even without the declaration, you are still there. His game is power and control, my dear. One could rationalize that loving actions bespeak his true feelings, but more likely they fit into his fantasy of how a romantic affair is supposed to go. As for your hypothesis, sorry. No man ever withheld a declaration of love because he knew the woman couldn't leave her marriage. For some men, this would make it even easier to say whatever she wanted to hear.

—Prudie, historically