Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Nov. 24 2004 9:29 AM

Don't Kiss, Don't Tell

What to do when the cheating damage is done.

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Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Pru,

I have a moral dilemma, and I know you'll give it to me straight. I've been with my boyfriend "Fred" for a year and lived with him for about six months. We get along beautifully and agree that we are each other's best friend. A few months ago I accepted a ride home from a male co-worker after a night of heavy drinking, and (much to my regret) I gave in to his advances and let him kiss me. I didn't forgive myself for it but decided that living with my guilt was better than telling Fred, especially because it truly was a kiss and nothing more. Last week I was out with friends/co-workers, and all of us had entirely too much to drink. A friend's roommate starting showing obvious interest in me early on in the night, and he was unrelenting and homed in for a kiss. Had I been anywhere near sobriety, I never would have let him, but I did and feel worse than horrible about it. My dilemma is that I can't forget about it, I'm overwhelmed with guilt, and have had extreme difficulty eating and sleeping. I know it would break Fred's heart to know of these two instances when I was unfaithful. I just need to know, in your wise opinion, if this is the kind of dishonesty that warrants a confession or if it's small enough to keep to myself.

—Lots of Gratitude,

Guilt-Stricken

Dear Guilt,

Forget about confessing to Fred. It may help you feel less guilty, but it won't do a thing for him. Also, though perhaps technically "unfaithful" to the relationship, a couple kisses is not the ultimate misstep that many girls write to Prudie about. Which brings us to the booze. Because you seem to act against your better judgment when you're tanked up, it might be useful for your future if you forget about branding yourself with a scarlet A and instead check out plain old AA. Good luck.

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—Prudie, abstemiously

Dear Prudence,

I have written to you before and am writing again for some advice. I have been with a man for over a year, and we are getting married next year. The problem I am having is his childish ex-wife. The woman is unbearable. She calls at 4 a.m. to nag and harass. She is rude and obnoxious to me. I have taken to hanging up on her, but I would rather try to get along with her. I love my fiance, and I don't want his ex-wife to ruin everything. I could "put up with it" for the rest of our lives, but I would rather find a solution. I have even talked to her about her harassment only to get screamed at, and my guy has asked her to stop. Yes, they do have a child together, but she isn't even raising the child. My fiance is trying to obtain custody because the b---- doesn't even want their daughter and has pawned her off on her parents. There is NO reason for her to even call, but she continues. What can I do to calm my rage that is bringing me closer to telling this moron where to stick it?

—Sincerely,

Seeing RED!

Dear See,

The solution you seek is actually in your hands. It is the phone. Because the ex responds to neither you nor your fiance telling her to knock it off, you are in the position of training her, as it were. Middle-of-the night phone calls, for one thing, are punitive and nuts (Does this woman drink?), and you don't have to be at her mercy. You should turn off the phone when you go to bed, and during the day, if you pick up the phone and hear her voice, gently put the phone in its cradle. There is nothing you need to hear from her, so when she can't get through to you—literally—she will stop. (Or if you have caller ID, do not pick up when she is calling.) Prudie has never believed in being hostage to a head case.

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—Prudie, determinedly

Hi Prudie,

Here is my story with names changed. My sister's 6-year-old son, "Jason," is my godson. I moved from our home state to the West Coast when he was 1 year old. I always send birthday and Christmas gifts and ask about him in e-mails and on the phone. I have visited twice since I moved and both times noticed he was uninterested in me but just figured he did not know me well. Recently we were all together at a family wedding, and my husband said to me, "I think Jason is autistic!" I realize now that my sister has always known he is autistic (she is in medicine) but obviously told no one, including me. My mother played dumb when I asked her about it as well. My family has always been very secretive, and my mother always said, "Don't ever tell anyone what goes on in our home!" Am I wrong to feel hurt that this was kept from me? Is it none of my business? I have always expressed an interest in Jason. The whole thing seems strange to me, and I am puzzled by it. What do you think?

—Perplexed

Dear Per,

Although it is, shall we say, odd to never mention to family members that a child is afflicted with a serious malady, try not to take it personally. IF your husband's "diagnosis" is correct, your sister has apparently been well-indoctrinated by your mother regarding secrecy, and she may, as well, be under the misapprehension that no one will "notice" the child's symptoms. If she wishes to be in denial or to imagine that no one recognizes the difficulty, Prudie sees no reason for you to insist on a discussion.

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—Prudie, confidentially

Dear Prudie,

I have a few really odd questions for you. I've been with my boyfriend for many years now (since I was 14). We've had our problems, but they've all worked out, and we're happy and are starting to think about marriage. I'm not a "Goth" or anything like that. I'm in fact pretty normal, but I've always wanted a black wedding dress. Weird, eh? My dad used to swear that he would never go to my wedding if my dress was black. I'm also not sure what my boyfriend's family will think. But I've gotten to the point where it's their problem, it's my wedding, and I will have it the way I want. My boyfriend doesn't have a problem with it. In fact, his favorite color is black. My first question is: What is the significance of nonwhite dresses? Second: How would it be looked upon by a church?

—Shannon

Dear Shan,

Black has always been a very chic color and has now become fashionable for bridesmaids' dresses. There is no reason it shouldn't advance to a bridal dress. The only two people whose opinions should matter are that of the bride and the groom. (Prudie is quite certain your father will come around.) Churches, to the best of Prudie's knowledge, do not have color rules, and there is really no significance to color choice. (White is mistakenly thought to signify purity.) And these days, my dear, when brides are pregnant and wearing any number of styles and colors, black should hardly cause a ripple.

—Prudie, imaginatively