Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.
Aug. 2 2007 7:20 AM

I'll Take Bachelor Number Two

How can I choose between the different guys I'm attracted to?

1_123125_122976_2131188_dearprudence_ey

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 in love with two men. I'm 25, and they are both 30. I met each of them three years ago, and dated both before choosing the one who is my current partner. Maybe I didn't really choose, but my boyfriend was a little more forceful, and the other guy more reserved. I love my boyfriend. He is happy, gorgeous, intelligent, ambitious, and caring. When I was diagnosed with a serious illness, he nurtured me back to health. At the same time, we have always been one of those couples who go to a restaurant and have nothing to talk about. His two interests are basketball and making money, and I often go to the theater alone because he finds my type of entertainment boring. Additionally, he keeps wanting to change me. He would like me to wear more makeup, buy flashier clothes, and visit the spa more often. Then there's the other guy. We recently rekindled our friendship, seeing each other every two months or so and having the best conversations of our lives. He's intelligent, intellectual, and caring, and I'm incredibly attracted to him. I can't be sure if our relationship would be good if we had one, but I would really like to try. I wish my boyfriend would break up with me, so I don't have to feel guilty about this. He's truly a nice guy, and nice guys don't deserve to be dumped. I want to do the right thing, but I don't know what that is.

—Lucky

Dear Lucky,
Apart from the appearance of a potential Mr. Wonderful No. 2, it sounds as if there are serious problems with Mr. Wonderful No. 1. He may be a good earner, but he bores you silly. And are his attempts to "improve" you his way of sending the message that he finds you plain and dumpy, or his way of saying you're a great-looking woman who could do more with what she's got? Since you're already being emotionally unfaithful, at this point you should have a frank discussion with No. 2 about your feelings. If he shares them, then do the decent, difficult thing and leave your current relationship before embarking on a new one. Even if he doesn't, I doubt you'll find yourself happily working up an interest in the NBA or red lipstick. Don't stay out of guilt. At 25, you're too young to contemplate decades of having nothing to say to your beloved. And if you break up, he will probably have minutes of loneliness before hordes of flashier-dressing women descend on him.

—Prudie

Watch Prudence's latest video letter here.

Dear Prudence,
When I was 19, I got pregnant. My boyfriend and I mutually decided that adoption was the best plan for us and the new baby. Throughout the pregnancy, we became increasingly distant from each other and I figured it was probably never going to work out. We did an open adoption; the adoptive parents are a very loving couple and I adored them. After the baby was born, and for about five years afterward, I received letters about her development and photos of her. However, things did end up working out with my boyfriend, who is now my husband. It has been 11 years since we gave the baby up, and we now have two children of our own. Do you think I have a duty to inform the couple who adopted my baby that she has two blood siblings? I have been fighting myself over this for a couple of years and I just can't make up my mind. On the one hand, I feel that if/when they decide to tell the child about the adoption, she may want to know about her brother and sister. On the other hand, I don't know if they would consider this as intruding in their lives if they have moved on and don't think about me. I just want them all to be happy. Should I wait until some day when she might try to contact us, or should I just write them a letter to let them know?

—Torn

Dear Torn,
Write the letter and enclose photos. Then it's up to the adoptive parents to decide what to do with the information. I don't know what your long-term agreement with them was concerning updates, but they chose an open adoption, and surely it would be better for everyone to have more information about each other, even as you respect their family boundaries. And it's hard to believe that people who choose open adoption have kept it secret from their child that she is adopted. Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, told me that on reunion registries, adoptees are as interested in finding their siblings as their birth parents. He himself is the adoptive parent of a daughter who has full and half siblings by her birth mother, and has always known about them. You can't control what the adoptive parents reveal, but Pertman says that unless there are strong extenuating circumstances, more openness is better for everyone, and it also avoids the awful question, "Why didn't you tell me sooner?" Interestingly, mogul Steve Jobs was put up for adoption by his young, unmarried parents, who went on to marry, give birth to novelist Mona Simpson, and divorce. The siblings found each other as adults, but Jobs always considered his adoptive parents his only parents.

—Prudie

Advertisement

Dear Prudence,
My daughter just turned 10. She has developed so very young. When she turned 9, she started developing breasts, and then three months before her 10th birthday, she started to menstruate. She also has armpit hair and pubic hair, all the signs that are normal for a girl to develop when they are 11 or 12, or even 13. I think that she is very young to go through these changes, because most girls in her class haven't even started to develop at all, let alone begin their menstrual cycle. A girl she knows made fun of her armpit hair. Do you think she's too young to shave or remove the hair, or should I just tell her not to pay attention to this nasty girl's remarks? Do you think she's too young to go through these changes? Or is it normal for her age?

—Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned,
Your daughter is young for puberty, but not too young for it to be considered abnormal. But you need to make an appointment with your pediatrician right away to make sure that this is normal and healthy for her. Assuming it is, if she's old enough to be self-conscious about her underarm hair, she's old enough for you to show her how to shave it. Reassure her that in the next few years, all her friends will be going through the same changes, and the ones who will feel most awkward will be the ones who are late to develop. In the meantime, find some books you two can read together that will help her understand what's going on. Because puberty is happening so young to so many girls these days, you have many to choose from aimed at younger children. Here are two from the American Girl library that explain the physical and mental changes she is going through: The Care and Keeping of You and The Feelings Book.

—Prudie

Advertisement

Dear Prudence,
I am an attractive, married, thirtysomething woman who works as a restaurant manager. Because we get a lot of the same regulars who stop in to eat every day, I chat with many of them when they place their orders or pay their bills. Most are exceedingly polite and friendly, but there are some older gentlemen who are, to say the least, overfriendly. Their teasing does not run in the jovial vein of, say, "Are you married? Really? Well, your husband is a lucky fella," but rather to more derogatory remarks such as, "Hey, are you wearing underwear today, or did you leave them at my house last night?" I've tried to put them in their places with a firm, "Excuse me, I don't appreciate comments like that," but this doesn't stop the commentary—in fact, it seems to encourage it. To be fair, there are only a certain few older gentlemen who have fun with their ribald senses of humor at my expense. My question is, what would be the appropriate response to stop this? Is there a way to put them in their places without losing their business, or should I blatantly offend them and write them off as patrons of my establishment?

—Not Amused

Dear Not,
The next time one of them makes the underwear remark, I would be tempted to pull out a box containing a truss, a package of Depends, and the ever popular bunion shield from Dr. Leonard and say, "Actually, if you remember, you were at my house, and you left these items behind!" OK, forget the gift box. Good-natured teasing is one thing, explicit remarks that make you uncomfortable are another. Obviously, showing them that they bother you has only encouraged the coots. Try the non sequitur approach. Whenever one of them says something over the line, respond neutrally, "Good to see you again. Excuse me, I have to clear a table." If this doesn't work, then take your complaint to the restaurant owner. Let him or her pull the customers aside and ask them to tone it down.

—Prudie