Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 29 2004 11:57 AM

Alcohol-Induced Emotions

Booze + co-workers = trouble.

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Dear Prudie,

Two days ago I hooked up with a co-worker after I had had a lot to drink. The problem is that he has a new girlfriend who also happens to be a co-worker of mine. While we are not really friends, she is a sweet girl, and I see her almost every day. I feel awful for the way I behaved. I have no feelings for this man, and there had been no previous flirting. My instincts tell me to leave matters as they are, but then again it was my instincts (or failure to control them) that got me into this mess to begin with. I do not think it my place to confess to this girl, nor do I think it necessary to break up what seems to be a happy relationship because of a five–minute, alcohol-induced make-out session. Am I wrong? She has even expressed concern for the "worried" and "troubled" look on my face. I am having such a hard time deciding what is the right thing to do. What do you think Prudie?

—Repenting at Leisure

Dear Re,

It's a good thing Prudie just spoke to a twentysomething who confirmed that "hooking up" is the newest replacement for the euphemistic "dating." In any case, the first thing to do is lose the "worried and troubled" expression. Not that this necessarily applies to you, but facial cues are sometimes unconscious bids to have people ask, "What's wrong?" And why are you in such turmoil? It's not all that hard to keep something to yourself. Prudie's feeling about confessing is that the transgressor may feel relieved, but the injured party receiving the information feels only betrayal and angst. Instead of laying this hurtful information on your co-worker, let your penance be to feel guilty in silence and, of course, go and hook up no more ... particularly if you've had a snootful.

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—Prudie, soberly

Dear Prudence,

I am in a seven-year relationship (married five years). I have two wonderful little girls. Recently an old boyfriend contacted my parents looking for me. It has been 15 years since I have seen him. He continued to call my parents' home, asking for my number, even though my mom told him I was married. I finally had to call him and ask him to stop calling them. He was my first love and the love of my life. He's recently fallen on hard times and has also been ill. He and I now speak almost every day when my husband is at work. He calls me; I do not call him. I don't have many friends and enjoy speaking with him. We do not discuss anything sexual or make plans to meet. I have no wish to cheat on my husband, but he doesn't give me the time of day sometimes. He would rather be on the computer than spend time with me and/or the children. I admit I feel neglected. We rarely sit down and talk about things anymore, though we do have a good sex life. I don't know if I should stop speaking with my old boyfriend or not. If my husband ever found out, he would have a cow, as he knows how I felt about him. What do you think???

—Confused in Pennsylvania

Dear Con,

This is certainly a tangled state of affairs. You are not cheating, in the way that word is understood, and state you have no intention of doing so. However, your daily phone chats are something you do not want your husband to know about; ergo, you feel the need to be secretive—as though you were doing something illicit. This is probably a case of your guilty feelings providing the answer to whether or not you're doing something "wrong." You probably should decide if you want to fix what's wrong with your marriage as a separate issue from talking on the phone to Mr. First Love. And husbands having cows is never good, even if what you're up to would only warrant a calf.

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—Prudie, directionally

Dear Prudence,

I am in a relationship (for the last three years) with a wonderful man. We live in a beautiful home, have his and his cars, one of which I have kindly been allowed to use. He is quite wealthy, and I am not. I am given "wages," and in return I do everything. I am secretary, partner, nurse, cleaner—all quite normal I suppose. I attend all business meetings; I give him my input, which I believe to be quite helpful. All the power in the relationship, however, is on his side. He says to me he regards me as his wife, except I don't have the privileges of a wife. I feel quite empty. I understand that he made his wealth long before he met me—but I don't see why this means he automatically gets to have all the power. I am not allowed to turn on the air conditioning in 30-plus degree weather without "discussing it" and him agreeing. We work from home, and I feel resentful about being giving instructions all the time. Am I out of line?

—Wondering

Dear Won,

There's a lot Prudie doesn't know about your situation, but one thing she does know, because of your use of Celsius degrees, is that you are most likely not in the United States. What this means is that a cultural difference may be at work here, but whatever arrangement you have does not sound like a marriage. You may very well be regarded as a wife—by him—but the perception is not mutual, and whatever is taking place is clearly unsatisfactory to you. What you describe is really an employer-employee relationship, albeit a live-in one, with all that implies. You call him "wonderful," but you do not state the nature of the business or the level of the "wages." Whereas he sounds content with the way things are, you state that the imbalance of power leaves you resentful and empty. You really only have two choices. Talk openly about your unhappiness, and see if the situation is alterable. If he is willing to make things more comfortable and equitable for you, fine. If not, then the decision is yours whether to go or stay.

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—Prudie, decisively

Dear Prudence,

HELP ME!!! I am 16 years old, and I'm having boyfriend problems. When we just started going out, things were going great, and he always told me he loved me, and he would always just say those little things like, "You're pretty," or, "I love you" like every five seconds, and now it's just down to saying, "What are you doing?" and then complete silence till one of us says something, but now I am the one having to say, "I love you" when we get off the phone with each other. What should I do?

Sincerely,

—Ashley

Dear Ash,

Prudie supposes there could be two answers to your dilemma. One would be to say that many grown-up romances follow this pattern ... or that you are too young (or at least one of you is) for what is happening. Prudie will go with the second answer in this case. Obviously the two of you are not on the same page, and the relationship is unsatisfactory for you, so cool it with this particular fellow and wait for a time when the words spoken have a little more meaning. When people do not exactly know what the words mean, they are ... well, meaningless.

—Prudie, patiently