Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Dec. 2 2004 7:09 AM

The Elephant in the Room

Can angry Democrats get along with Bush supporters?

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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.)

Dear Prudie,

George W. Bush has won re-election, and I think he's a scumbag. His decision to go into an unjustified war that resulted in over 1,300 soldier deaths (at the time of this writing) and somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 civilian deaths is unconscionable. I've already decided that I do not want to date or be friends with anyone who voted for Bush in 2004. This isn't a problem. The problem is what to do with two very close friends (a couple) that were Bush supporters. I still care about them and would have no problem helping them out if they were in a jam, but I no longer wish to spend any time with them. My question is: What is the right way to drop them? My current plan involves phasing them out. I no longer call them. When they call, I'm friendly, but I decline all invitations. I figure they will get the hint. Is this the best strategy, or should I just tell them the truth?

—Trying To Stay Away From Bush Supporters

Dear Try,

Your position may soften with time, but if it does not, Prudie suggests volunteering an explanation for the big chill only if asked. It is interesting that you say you could see your way clear to helping this couple, were they in a jam, but you no longer wish to socialize. This reminded Prudie of a long-ago conversation on TheTonight Show: A celebrity from New Delhi was explaining about the "untouchables": It wasn't that people didn't LIKE them, he said ... just that they couldn't TOUCH them. Prudie will not try to convince you to change your mind but does want you to know that she, herself, plans to continue to see her Bush-voter friends … but only for 49 percent of an evening.

—Prudie, procedurally

Dear Prudence,

I am in a committed relationship with a man I met several years ago whom I love very much. The problem is that he is a cop and always very suspicious of everything, including me and whether I am telling him the truth about something. Recently, I had to take my car to have an inspection. I forgot about it until the morning of the inspection, so I gave him no advance notice. When I called on my way home, he basically accused me of not being where I said I was. We were in that town this past weekend, and out of the blue he insisted that I take him by the place I had the inspection done. I was so put out by this and hurt by his suspicions that I argued with him and eventually put him out in a parking lot and left him there. I love him and miss him but am not sure I can live with this type of treatment. Is love enough to conquer this, or should I start the long task of getting over him?

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—Torn

Dear Torn,

The problem is not that he is a cop but that he's a control freak for whom trust is totally lacking. A healthy future can be secured either without him or with him agreeing to see a therapist. This personality trait is deeply ingrained, and do not buy it if he promises he will "do better." People need professional help to break this pattern; love doesn't do it.

—Prudie, factually

Dear Prudie,

I have a predicament. I am a mom to an amazing 7-year-old boy. He was blessed with the gift of natural empathy and is a deeply feeling individual. This year my husband, who is also wonderful, adopted him. Our son calls him his real dad, so all transition is over and lovely. My ex lost custody and decided rather than have visitation and risk paying child support, he would walk away and give up all parental rights. This is for the best as my ex is a practicing addict with severe anger issues, and now he has a new baby, born this year. My predicament I this: My little guy is old enough to remember the bad and the good and has questions about why his dad doesn't want to see him. As his mother, I feel protective and racked by telling the truth and causing emotional distress with the real information. Also, as a 7-year-old, he has a million questions and isn't often satisfied with, "That's just the way it is" or, "You'll understand when you're older." How do I answer what happened with his biological father, how we fell out of love, and why he chose not to see his son?

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—Well-Blended in Washington

Dear Well,

Have you heard this one? A little boy asked his mother where he came from. She got into quite a detailed answer involving fallopian tubes, the uterus, and all the technical information. The little boy listened to all this and then said: "No, I mean where did I come from? Johnny, next door, came from Cleveland." Tell a young child the bare minimum to satisfy his curiosity. In your case, the point to stress is that the natural father's absence has nothing to do with the little boy, but rather the absent father's own problems and unfortunate life. When he's a little older and better able to understand, if he's still asking questions, then you can fill in a little more detail, and do it honestly.

—Prudie, frankly

Dear Prudence,

I've got an etiquette question because I can't decide if I'm being cheap and greedy or thoroughly modern. Here's the deal. I have found the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with. We are very much in love and committed to each other, but we don't want to get married. It's just not important to us. We are, however, buying a home together. For me, it's a huge step and a statement of our relationship. It's a major commitment ceremony all its own. To mark and celebrate the occasion, I would like to host an elaborate housewarming party, with cocktails, supper, and formal dress. And I want all my friends and family to buy us gifts. My reasoning is that this is as close to a wedding as I will ever have. My sister and brother both got married and got to register for gifts. My grandparents gave each of them a substantial sum of money, which each used as a down payment on a house. Am I not entitled to the same, or do I get penalized because I'm not actually walking down an aisle? Would I be able to register and communicate to people that I want gifts? I'd appreciate your advice, as one modern woman to another.

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—Never the Bride To Be

Dear Nev,

Well, one modern woman to another, buying a house together means that you wish to live together, not that you're married. Wedding gifts are for … weddings. A housewarming party will certainly incline some guests to bring gifts, but they most likely will not be of the place-setting variety. It is perfectly fine with Prudie if you wish to forgo marriage, but by the same token, do not expect people to treat you like a bride. As for the grandparents, you could give it a shot by going to them and saying that this is your marriage equivalent. Life is choices, cupcake, and the one you've made comes with its own rituals—but no wedding registry.

—Prudie, factually