Here's the situation. I have a wonderful, amazing, almost perfect boyfriend whom I've been with for about a year and a half. We've got a fantastic relationship. There's just one itsy-bitsy problem. Actually, I don't even know if it's a problem, but other people SAY it is. My wonderful boyfriend purchases the occasional Playboy. And I don't care. I even read them. (For the articles. Really!) He kind of makes a half-assed (no pun intended) attempt to hide them. If it's from me or from innocent bystanders, I don't really know. Regardless, I usually manage to stumble across them with no snooping involved. He never gets defensive about it when I find them. It's a nonissue with us. With my friends, however, it's a different story. When I have told them in the past about the Playboys, they are appalled and question how I can allow my boyfriend to disrespect me in such a manner. Doesn't it bother me that he's looking at other women like that? And the Playboys are just a "gateway drug" so to speak. Next thing he's going to be cheating on me with hookers or lap dancers. It's difficult to be indignant when I'm voraciously consuming that which I'm supposed to be railing against. I guess my question is: Is this disrespectful?
—Feminist Who May Have Lost Her Way
Oh, please. It's a magazine ... and on the tame side, at that, from what Prudie understands "lad" magazines to be these days. Why are you even telling people his reading habits? In any case, don't let your girlfriends get on your case. Respect—or lack of it—is shown by how a man treats you, not by what he reads. Plus, Prudie once wrote for them (when ice covered the earth), so how bad could it be?
I dated a guy for a few months, and it turned out he was a real control freak. He hacked into my e-mail accounts and read all my mail, new and old. In his quest for information, he happened across some incriminating e-mails between me and my old boss, who is still a good friend. Now that I have stopped seeing the control freak, he keeps trying (successfully, usually) to blackmail me into spending time with him by threatening to tell my ex-boss's wife what he found out. He is driving me crazy, and if I owned a gun, I'm afraid I am just p.o.'d enough to use it. Luckily for him, I do not. I cannot live in fear of his using this information against me, but having him tell the wife is out of the question, as that would definitely end their marriage. I don't know what to do. I have a job I couldn't get anywhere else; moving away is not an option. How do I get rid of this creep and get my life back????
—Dressed To Kill
The following thoughts are the result of mentioning your situation to a few lawyer chums. What is going on is actually an odd sort of stalking rather than blackmail. Going to law enforcement would not work for you in this case because they do not often get involved in personal matters without threats of physical harm. Your best bet is to play poker and bluff (and hope the jerk is not a Prudie reader). You must go to the boss and explain the situation and then, together, either in the company of a lawyer or a private investigator, meet with the jerk, tell him what he is doing is against the law, and hope he scares easily. You will just have to hope you can fake him out.
My husband (we'll call him "Chris") and I have been separated for a few months, and I've filed for a divorce. Chris has his own apartment while I live in our house with our children. The problem is that my father-in-law calls every weekend not knowing that Chris no longer lives here. His parents have never liked me very much. In fact, I get the impression that they don't like him very much, either. His mother is always putting him down and making him feel less than adequate. Therefore, Chris doesn't have any desire to talk to his parents at this point. In the past, it's been like pulling teeth just to get him to call them on holidays, etc. I don't really feel like it's my place to be the one to tell them that we're getting a divorce, but I'm tired of his dad calling every weekend and leaving messages. I keep telling Chris that he needs to call them, but he refuses. He doesn't even have a phone in his apartment; he only has a cell phone in case of emergency. I don't know what to do. Should I tell his parents that he has moved out? Should I just let my son tell them? Please help.
—Impatient With the In-Laws
You are being impatient with the wrong party. It's Chris who is trying your patience. Tell him he has one week to either call or write his folks, informing them you two are living apart—and that he doesn't have a phone. Tell him that should he not abide by your timetable, you will be forced to tell his father that the phone calls to your house are futile. Do NOT make your little boy the messenger. And do enjoy the positive aspect of separation and divorce: You don't have to "remind" your husband to call his folks, and it is no longer incumbent upon you to deal with the in-laws if you never liked them in the first place. Don't ask how Prudie knows this.
My boyfriend and I have a wonderful relationship. We have lived together now for a little more than a year and plan to marry as soon as we can pay for the wedding and reception that we both want. (This will be a second marriage for both.) Our (my) problem is his mother. While she can be a very sweet lady, she drives me insane. Some days she is bouncing off the walls because she took too many pills; the next all she can do is complain because she took too few. She is a hypochondriac. She tries getting sympathy from her 4-year-old grandson because "Grandma hurts today. Grandma needs a hug. Grandma is going to take some pills." She also compares me to her ex-daughter-in-law. "She could do this and that and the other thing. But that's OK, sweetheart, you can do x, y, and z." And she loves to gossip. If we discuss family, she finds a way to put one of them down. So what can I expect her to say about me? My boyfriend simply doesn't listen to her anymore. He actually tunes out the sound of her voice when she is talking. The woman is nuts. Please, any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Prudie's advice would be to deal with the nutty mother the same way her son does: Tune her out. This is an excellent approach because there is no way you can change her, and it doesn't sound as though she is going anywhere. So make your peace with it: You will have a pill-popping, gossipy, hypochondriacal m-i-l. Believe it or not, things could be worse. Don't ask how Prudie knows this, either.