Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 6 2005 8:00 AM

Can I Come In?

Answers for pushy relatives banging on the delivery room door.

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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,

I am at a loss. My husband and I are currently expecting our first child, due in January. While we are very excited about the arrival of our little girl, we are beginning to fear the delivery room for a different reason than the usual worries about pain, safety, etc. What concerns us is the guest list. Seeing the event as a very private one, and being perhaps shy about my body in this personal context, we prefer to have those present limited to my husband, myself, and necessary medical personnel. Lately, however, friends and family have been talking about the day as if they plan to be in the delivery room with us. We have other friends who have invited people to their children's births, but we never invited anyone. Suddenly people are clearing their schedules and making plans to get there on time! While we are happy that everyone is so excited to meet our child, we are a bit unsure how to say that we are keeping this moment to ourselves. Please help!

—Private Parent

Dear Prive,

THE GUEST LIST? People are inviting themselves to the delivery room? Prudie is stunned—and, you will be interested to know, she has never heard of this before. Giving birth is neither a party nor a social occasion, and while there are instances where a mother or mother-in-law or sibling have been asked to be present, that is entirely at the discretion of the parents-to-be. Prudie does not wish to impugn your friends, but they sound out of their minds. Do not be put on the defensive for one minute. Just tell anyone and everyone that you will not be entertaining on the day the baby is born. In fact, it would probably be a good idea to leave word with the nurse on the floor that no one is to be granted entry to the delivery room.

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—Prudie, aghastly

Prudie,

I need some help, ASAP. A wonderful family friend had gastric bypass surgery and has lost 130 pounds. I am so happy for her, but I don't know what to say when I see her after the first of the year. If I say she looks soooo fabulous, will she think I thought her horrible before? She's a beautiful person, and I don't want to hurt her by saying the wrong thing. What's the best way to let her know that I'm glad that she is healthier and happier, but that she was just as gorgeous before?

—Thanks,

Practically Her Niece

Dear Prac,

Prudie has a chum who's had the surgery, so she ran it by this "expert." The thrust of the response was this: Anyone who has lost a lot of weight is happy to hear the compliments. "You look great!" is an admiring comment without a downside. Prudie's pal added that "Anyone who would go through gastric bypass probably thought they looked worse at the old weight than you did." And c'mon … anyone who qualifies for this surgery couldn't really have looked just as "gorgeous" before, at least not physically. So celebrate with your newly svelte friend with all the praise you can think of.

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—Prudie, admiringly

Dear Prudence,

I am a faithful reader of your column and trust your advice. I really hope you can assist me with my not-so-unique but entirely stressful problem. I have been involved with a man for two years. He is loving, kind, gentle, and has never done anything except be his wonderful self. The problem? As much as I love him (or perhaps because of how much I love him), I cannot trust him. I check up on him constantly, get horrible feelings in my stomach when we have been apart for more than a day, and I always think he is flirting with other women. I've never found anything out, by the way, to support any of this. He has proven himself trustworthy time and time again. I do have old baggage from an ex-boyfriend who I dated right before I met this man, and I most likely am taking it out on him. He has told me that he can no longer live this way and that we are never going to be able to make it unless I learn to trust. It has come to an ultimatum: trust him and stay, or accept that I can't and go. I do not want to lose this man, but I have never dealt with this issue before (although I should have) and am now at a loss as to where to begin. How do I begin to heal myself so that I can trust him and his love?

—Trying Desperately

Dear Try,

The answer is simple; implementing it will be hard. You know rationally that the problem is yours, yet you are unable to let this man's behavior count for anything. What you need to salvage this love affair is a behavioral therapist who can find a way to help you to unload the old baggage and deal with what is real, now. It would be a shame to let your neurosis louse up what sounds like something wonderful. The pattern of jealousy is hard to break, but it can be done with professional guidance.

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—Prudie, optimistically

Dear Prudence,

I've had a problem for a solid year. I made a fantastic friendship when I only knew three people in the city and was in search of new friends. Fortunately people at my job were around my same age, so I formed bonds with some, but one in particular. The kind of work I do is very intense and requires working closely with some of these people for long periods of time. I ended up spending 12 hours a day, two days a week, with the same guy—and only him. We started talking about the things we had in common—psychology, school, family, friends, life in New York, etc. I worked closely with him for nearly four and a half months. I noticed I was developing more than platonic feelings for him. I figured as time passed, they would dissipate, but this is not what happened. I tried taking classes, thinking they might curb my thoughts and feelings, but to no avail. We now no longer work together; we've gone from "co-workers" to "friends." Sadly though, the feelings I have for him have only grown. I'm deeply afraid of pushing what some would say is a good friendship any further than it already is. I've tried dropping hints with no success. I'm wondering if he'd be able to handle the truth, that I have intense feelings for him. I'm reaching that point where I have to do something or I'm going to lose my mind. Any suggestions, Prudence?

—Utterly Infatuated

Dear Ut,

You don't say whether this man is married or single, but we will assume he is single. (Prudie does not offer advice about how to reel in married men.) You say you have dropped hints with no results, so that may be your answer. Prudie is betting, because of your feelings, that a plain vanilla friendship would be painful, so here's a two-part "solution." First, have a heart-to-heart, and reveal your deeper feelings. If there is no positive response, then suggest that, for your mental health, it's better for you to cool whatever "relationship" you have. Wondering and not knowing is as painful as being rejected.

—Prudie, realistically