Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to email@example.com. (Questions may be edited.)
Twenty years ago a friend of mine married her childhood sweetheart, who was obviously, to all, gay. They came to NYC from the Midwest to work here. Even my 8-year-old knew something was amiss, no pun intended. I moved, lost touch. Recently saw her. Divorced. In her 50s. Never remarried. Bitter. Now I am seeing the same event transpire with a young friend. Everyone knows he's seeing men on the side when she's out of town on business. People have hinted and beaten around the bush about it, but they don't want to hurt her, so they don't tell her. She is a smart gal. They're getting married soon. Please help me understand why smart, beautiful, creative women marry men who are gay. She has never been tested for HIV and says she doesn't need to be because she and her fiance have been faithful for many years. Help! I am not going to her wedding because I can't pretend she is going to live happily ever after. I am not alone. What is she going to think when some of her friends don't show up? I desperately need some advice.
Boycotting the nuptials doesn't solve anything. Attending a wedding is not a statement that you believe the couple will live happily ever after; it is to celebrate what the couple is feeling now. Your dilemma has several components, hence several answers. As to why desirable women marry gay men, sometimes there's a tremendous fondness and no particular interest in sex. Sometimes it's a stepping stone to something he has that she wants. Sometimes it's a cover for two gay people. And sometimes, as is your fear, the woman doesn't know. Your friend's circumstances sound as though her fiance is bisexual, since she says they are faithful to each other, ergo, they have a sexual relationship. While Prudie generally does not believe in blowing the whistle on people in romantic situations—because they are usually ignored—AIDS is a wild card. You can't worry about hurting her when AIDS could kill her. At the risk of being disinvited to the wedding (there's an irony for you) tell your young friend that there's quite a bit of talk about her gentleman seeing men on the side. Tell her you have no way of knowing that this is true. Tell her you believe it to be your responsibility, one friend to another, to suggest that both of them get AIDS tests. How she deals with this, or him, is not your business. You will have done all that is possible, and your conscience will be clear.
I go to a college that borders a small town. I get my hair cut at a local "mom and pop" barbershop, which not only does an excellent job but makes me feel like I am supporting the community. The alternative is a nearby city mall and chain store. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I've been told by a friend that the barber who cuts my hair is, or was, a member of the KKK, a group that I naturally despise. Apparently, my friend overheard him talking about it to someone else. I trust him, but it is possible that he misheard. I would like to avoid a confrontation with the barber, which would be ugly, no matter what. Should I cease my business relationship?
Oh, my. Prudie would like to tell you there's another well-known group with the initials KKK, but there isn't one. Because you are questioning your friend's report of what he thinks he overheard, a nonconfrontational, anxiety-free way to determine things for yourself would be to casually bring up the subject of African-Americans and listen to what your barber has to say. That most likely will offer you a good idea of his feelings on the subject. You will never be able to know for a certainty, however, whether or not he dresses up in a sheet on weekends. Your instincts will have to lead you through this one.
I am a young wife, married for three years. Since before our marriage, my in-laws have had the habit of sharing unsolicited advice. Recently this problem has become more significant. My husband and I decided to move across the country in order for me to pursue a graduate degree. My in-laws, upon hearing this news, decided that it was incumbent upon them to share with us their disagreement with this decision. Not only did they do this, but they polled other relatives and reported that the whole family was unanimously in agreement with them. I have not spoken to them since this happened. My poor husband has been trying to deal with the situation. My feeling is this: A married couple's decisions are not an appropriate subject for family debate. Since we have married, I have heard their opinions on all manner of our decisions. I am growing more concerned. I worry that in the future, when my husband and I decide to have children, buy a house, or make any of the numerous decisions couples make, I will have to hear my in-laws weigh in. What is a wife to do? Sometimes I think of divorcing my husband so that I can have my life back.
It sounds as though you and your husband agree about the mutual decisions that affect your life, so you've got what is important. Prudie knows it's difficult to tune out annoying people who are emotionally tone-deaf, but you really have to do this. Just pretend they are the Family Opinion Network and decide not to listen. You must start speaking to them, however ... just ignore any unwanted advice. If you feel, at some point, that you must say something, sweetly tell them that you and their son are like a banana republic, and you and he are the bananas who rule.
You've saved me from myself in the past ... hope you can help now! I did the big "no-no" with my boyfriend: snooped into his business with an ex-girlfriend, partially because he kept hinting to me about it, and partially because I'm a snoop. I confronted him about it in order to offer advice about how to handle the problem. We can all guess his reaction. I'm upset because I had good intentions, and I don't care about what happened; I care that his issues are properly taken care of so they don't come back to bite us in the future. Now what do I do? He won't accept an apology. I know I should move on, but I really love him. He is clearly cutting off his nose to spite his face. Why can't men just talk/argue things out? Why are their egos so big and at the same time so fragile? My father always said, "Get mad and get over it." Why don't today's men have such attitudes?
—Distraught and in love
Some of today's men do have the attitude you desire. Unfortunately, your boyfriend is not one of them. (Also too bad the victim of your nosing around wasn't your forgiving father, but onward.) You could make a last-ditch try and tell this man you've learned a painful lesson and you will never, ever, snoop into his business again. Prudie's hunch, however, is that the breach of trust did irreparable damage. Of course there's always the chance that his face will miss its nose and decide to patch things up.