Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.
June 7 2007 7:14 AM

Aww, Moooomm

My boyfriend is bonding with his mother over our sex life. What should I do?

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Dear Prudie,
My boyfriend and I are both college-bound seniors who recently started having sex. There are no problems with our relationship and we have been together for quite some time, but I'm getting a little perturbed. His mother, who is a public-health educator at a local university, is a bit too involved in our sex life. I have always gotten along well with her and would consider her more like a friend than my boyfriend's mother. Still, there are certain things a mother should never know. For example, she is fully aware of the type of condoms my boyfriend prefers and makes sure to keep his nightstand fully stocked with them. I feel like my boyfriend and his mother are bonding over our sex life. Although I doubt their conversations ever get graphic, I don't want my intimate experiences to be dinner conversation. I recently found out that his mother usually plans to run errands when she knows we'll be having sex in his room. This means that he must inform her ahead of time when he plans to have sex, right? Is it too presumptuous to ask that the woman who provides me with valuable information and a house to have sex in butt out? Or should I tough out the next two months until we go off to school, where he will be responsible for obtaining his own favorite type of condom?

—Exposed

Dear Exposed,
Thank you for the reminder of why I plan to lock my daughter in her room for her high-school years. OK, you're all grown up now and ready to have sex—in your boyfriend's bedroom, where he still hasn't gotten around to taking down the ribbon he won in the sixth-grade spelling bee. His mom is worried that even though you're sexually active young adults, you're also sexually active adolescent ding-dongs who might run out of rubbers one time and decide to improvise, thus causing her to take a supporting-actress role in your own version of Knocked Up. So, after she puts his folded underwear in his drawer, she checks the nightstand and makes sure he's covered. Then when the two of you disappear into his room, she leaves the house instead of, what, sitting outside the door knitting? Or working on the computer down the hall and wearing earplugs? Yes, the whole thing is icky—for everyone. Don't bring up your sex life with Mom, enjoy the summer, and keep using protection.

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—Prudie

Dear Prudie,
I have a smart and beautiful little girl with a rare genetic eye condition that causes a need for a prosthetic eye. It's something we are very open about with her, and with most people who ask questions. We want our daughter to know that it's nothing to be ashamed of and that she has a chance to educate genuinely caring people. Periodically, though, there are people who are just plain rude. These people (who often don't know us) have asked questions like, "Which parent did it come from?" or "Did you do something while you were pregnant to cause it?" How do we respond to these people while still teaching our daughter that although there is nothing to be ashamed of, there are limits to what is polite? Is there a polite way to say "None of your damn business"?

—Fed Up

Dear Fed,
Sometimes you just wish there were a prosthetic leg handy to apply to the head of people who would ask such questions. Yes, one is tempted to ask in return, "Is your behavior caused by a genetic condition?" but why risk further engagement with clods? If you feel the situation calls for you to speak, you could say, "I don't discuss such personal matters," or "I don't talk about my family with strangers." Also feel free to give a stunned stare and walk away.

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—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
My parents fight constantly. I am 22 years old (employed and don't live at home), and I have never seen them go more than a few hours without getting into an argument. Neither of them is perfect. My father has a tremendously short temper, and my mother nags all the time, which has proven to be quite a volatile combination. I don't think they love (or even like) each other. I've never seen them kiss or say "I love you." But here's the kicker: They've been married for 30 years. Why won't they get a divorce? Should I recommend a divorce? I think the dating scene would be awkward for them. Are they just staying together out of desperation? What can I do? I love them both, but I hate to see them miserable.

—The Reverse Cupid

Dear Reverse,
If your parents got a divorce, your mother would have to find someone else to nag, and your father would have to find someone else to blow up at. Early in their marriage, they may have been acting out destructive, unexamined behavior patterns that stemmed from their own upbringing (and that meshed so well!). But 30 years later, it sounds as if they are so habituated to their constant conflict, they have no interest in trying to live another way. Now that you don't live at home, you could say that when you visit, it would mean a lot if they could be civil to each other while you're there. I expect that will result in your mother saying to your father, "What does it take for you to act civil for a few hours!" and your father replying, "If you could keep a civil tongue in your head, that might be a good start!" You can't fix their marriage, but fortunately you have a clear-eyed view of how they have both contributed to an awful way to go through life. What you want to do is to not repeat this pattern in your own relationships. It's possible to be raised by people in a miserable marriage and have a good one of your own (I found that getting therapy first helped).

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—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
I am one of five women at my office. Roughly three out of five mornings, the one man we work with spends the first 10 to 15 minutes of the day in the (single, shared) bathroom. We work in a small office where we need to be available to any current or potential clients who call or drop in, so it does affect the rest of us if someone disappears mysteriously since, obviously, he doesn't announce that he's heading off to the can. I feel that if something is happening on such a regular basis, he should be able to take care of it at home before he comes to work. (He has only a half-hour commute.) My two-part question for you is: Is it worth saying something to him about it? And, presumably this would be a job for our manager, but what would be the best way of going about this? She usually hasn't arrived by that point in the morning, and so is not aware of this tendency.

—Waiting for the Can

Dear Waiting,
How would you approach this with your manager? "Sue, I believe Dick starts his day with a bowel movement at the office. Could you please tell him to coordinate his bodily functions better so we don't have to cover for him for the first 10 minutes of work?" Maybe you could talk to Dick and tell him that if he's going to be doing something beside No. 1, he should announce it so the rest of you can plan your morning accordingly. Or maybe Dick is in the bathroom checking his insulin, maybe he has irritable bowel syndrome, or maybe it's hard to imagine that there is anything more inappropriate for you to say anything to anyone about.

—Prudie