Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Questions may be edited.)
I am a recently widowed 32-year-old mother of three young boys. My husband was killed four months ago in a motorcycle accident. My concern is that my family and friends keep trying to push me to start dating, saying that it will help me get on with my life. I loved my husband very much, and I feel I would be cheating on him or tarnishing his memory for his boys if I started dating this soon. I do miss having someone to talk to, and I'm sure in time I will miss the intimate part of life, but I don't want to jump into the dating scene this soon. My question is: When is it an "appropriate" time to start dating again, and how do I explain it to our boys so they don't think I don't love their dad any longer?
—Lost in Indiana
An appropriate time to start dating, for a widow or a widower, is when it feels comfortable and you are no longer grieving. People in your situation should ignore people who both tell you it's too soon to start dating or why don't you hurry up already and get back into the scene? When you do feel as though you are ready, you are in no way "cheating" or tarnishing your husband's memory. The old saying is true: Life is for the living. And as for your boys, simply tell them you will always love their father, and he would want all of you to continue having a full life. And for what it's worth, Prudie shares your feeling that four months is not enough time to have recovered sufficiently to begin dating.
I am 18 years old, in my first year of college. Before I explain my dilemma, I admit I'm an only child and unaccustomed to having a roommate and everything that comes with it. I have known the girl I am rooming with for quite a while but have never been particularly close to her. Since we've gotten to school, I've learned a lot about her: mainly that she likes to use anything and everything that belongs to me. She uses my $120 hair goop daily, my hair dryer, dishes, silverware, calculator, etc. I'm not stingy; if she asks, I usually don't mind letting her borrow my things. It's when she uses them without asking or telling me, however, that I become upset. She also uses things that have to be replaced often, such as toothpaste and deodorant. It seems that she doesn't buy these things because she knows I have them. Another issue that has recently come up is food. I came back from a visit home to find that she'd eaten my last frozen pizza, half of a bag of pepperoni, my last tortilla, and she had drunk my chocolate milk. I've never mentioned any of this because we get along really well and I don't want to cause any awkwardness. I just wanted to hear your view and see if you had any suggestions.
—No Longer an "Only"
The problem is not that you are an only child; it is that this girl is helping herself without asking … sometimes using the last of whatever it is and not buying her own necessities because it's easier (and cheaper) to use yours. To spare yourself an ulcer, you should tell her that some rules of the road are necessary to continue your friendly relationship. Say you'd prefer that she'd ask to use (or eat) whatever it is and not just help herself. Do add that you'd appreciate it if she bought toothpaste, etc., because you cannot think of a reason why she shouldn't. Even if money is in short supply for your roomie and you are functioning as Goodwill Industries, she still needs to understand the propriety of asking you.
I am an emergency medical technician, and after dating a doctor from the ER for three years, we married this year. I could not ask for a better husband. The problem? I could definitely ask for a better mother-in-law. His family is very well-to–do, and all of their socializing takes places with others who have wealth and positions of status. His decision to be a doctor did not sit well with them because he could have at least been a governor or a senator, right? Anyway, from the time we informed his parents of our engagement, his mother has been asking me when I plan to become a doctor. I have informed her (as has my husband) that I enjoy my job, it is perfect for me, and I wouldn't consider trading it for the world. I actually thought we had gotten her to understand the situation until we attended one of her parties and a guest asked me when I was to start medical school. I told her she must have misunderstood what my m-i-l had said, but she was adamant that she'd been told that I was to become a doctor. I was approached by two more guests that evening with the same question and finally went to my husband's mother to ask about the misinformation she was giving out. She informed me that she was just "giving me a little nudge." I am at a total loss as to how to handle this situation.
Aren't these social-mountaineer types a pain? When the next friend of your m-i-l's inquires about your start date for med school, just laugh and say that the old girl needs to have her hearing checked, that you have a job you wouldn't trade for the world. And should the m-i-l, herself, ask you again when you are to begin med school, tell her, "When hell freezes over."
I am writing because I am stuck in a friendship that I'm not sure I should be in. My husband and I have been friends with this couple for the last two years. They both have really good jobs and nice in–laws, so they have always been able to get what they want. Recently, they refinanced their home to pay off all their debt. But it seems like they are creating even more now. I know this is not my business, but they seem to have made it everyone's. So far they have "invested" in a new diamond ring, computer software, furniture, a new truck, and very expensive luggage. She continues to call me only to tell me what they have purchased. I am torn because while I do value the friendship that we had, not everything has to be about money, and I feel like she is trying to make our friendship a competition. How do I nicely tell her that I am happy for them, but it doesn't make me like them anymore than I already did?
—Torn in Two
This girl is a showoff with a shopping addiction. You are clearly uncomfortable with the continuous bragging about acquisitions, and the sense that she is competitive has to make things quite awkward. The things you are told they've "invested in" are not investments, at all, but rather things that will all depreciate—not the definition of an investment. From the sound of things, your values have started to diverge from theirs, and unless you feel able to mention your lack of interest in hearing about their purchases, Prudie suspects the friendship will peter out.