Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of this week's chat is below. ( Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie's Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
A: Then that also says her husband has no respect for their relationship, which I don't think is the case. At a certain point the wife can "win" and make it too painful for her husband to see his friend. But that seems like a pyrrhic victory.
Another person wrote that it might help if the husband included the wife in dinners or whatever with the friend, which is a good idea if all of them are able to expand the friendship.
Q. "Platonic" Friend: It's also important to remember that while the one-night stand is old news to the husband and the friend, it's brand new to the wife. Might take a bit of time to adjust and move past it. Asking the husband to back off the friendship a little while the wife processes (maybe short term counseling?) isn't unreasonable.
A: Good point. That's why the husband has to be really upfront with the wife about this and apologize for not telling her previously. Lots of readers are saying the husband cheated on the wife while they were dating. Maybe they were in an exclusive relationship and it was a violation. But maybe there was no declared exclusivity. Again, the wife can "win" this. But how much more powerful it would make her if she could be confident about her marriage and let the friendship continue.
Q. Wedding Guests RSVP: I'm getting married this weekend and I'm going crazy with guest RSVPs. I had to turn in my final number already, but there are still six people that haven't replied to any of my calls or emails. Is it OK to not include them in the seating chart and just consider them a "no"? I'm afraid that they will show up and I will have to be looking around the ceremony for guests so that I can notify the venue.
A: Ah, the guestzilla problem. The inability of people to let you know whether you will have the privilege of plying them with food and drink is a continuing one. You're getting married in less than a week, and these goons have been treating you as if you are a collection agency. Their silence means no. If they show up, they'll quickly realize that in the game of musical guests, they're lacking seats.
Q. Relationships: I have been in a relationship with an older man (23 years difference) for almost a year and a half. We have a great, fun, loving relationship; I never notice our age difference when we are alone but am very uncomfortable when I am mistaken for his daughter in public, or when my friends are shocked (appalled?) when I tell them the age difference. Over time, I have met and spent time with several of his friends (he has no issues with me meeting them). I'm still very uncomfortable with him meeting my friends because of the "taboo-ness" of our relationship—he has only met a couple even now. It upsets him sometimes and he accuses me of "hiding him" and being "embarrassed" ... and I suppose on some level, I am. It's not that I think my friends wouldn't like him; I do think once they got to know him, they'd see what I see in him—but I just think it would be very awkward to invite him to hang out with a group of mid-20-year-olds. Not to mention, I hate the initial shocked reaction. I'd rather just spend time with him alone, where I can be happy and relaxed, rather than feel like I need to prove something to someone else. Am I wrong about this?
A: At least you're all adults here. Whether you want to keep your boyfriend stashed depends on what this relationship is about. If it's a temporary stop with a more experienced, mature man, then it makes somewhat more sense that you don't want to try to integrate him into your social circle. But if you see this as a possibly long-term relationship, then you have to confront the fact that you are embarrassed to be seen in public with him, or have him spend time with your friends. That doesn't sound promising. He apparently sees this relationship as something more than you do, since he's hurt by your keeping him hidden. But it tells you something important that you'd prefer to be alone with him, so you don't have to explain to anyone why you're holding hands with your dad.
Q. Loud Co-Worker: We have a co-worker who talks 24/7 really loudly about personal, non-work-related stuff all the time. Vacations, cats, food, etc. She knows she bothers everyone, but she doesn't care. She also complains about how overworked she is although she never seems to work. She is combative and people are intimidated by her. She is gone a lot on trips and vacations and when that happens, it is bliss. Her supervisor doesn't seem to be doing anything. Meanwhile, she is ruining the environment for everyone. What do you suggest?
A: First of all people have to deal with her directly. "Lucy, sorry, I don't have time to talk about Fluffy." "Lucy, can you lower the volume, we're trying to work over here." When that does nothing, several of you need to sit down with her supervisor and say you've tried to address this directly, but Lucy is a constant distraction—as well as being hostile—and her behavior needs to be addressed. I really fail to understand how in a world in which millions of hardworking people can't find employment, the loud-mouth slackers continue to be allowed to haunt the office.
Q. Wedding Gift for Stingy Cousin: My cousin, a successful real estate agent, is a miser. I can't believe she's lived this long in life without being turned into a Disney character who puts Ebenezer Scrooge to shame. She's never paid for family dinners (we generally take turns paying) but hordes all the leftovers, and even tries to sneak a plate or two to sell on eBay. When I used her onion she made me drive over the next day and replace it. Even if I use her eraser she will make a point of borrowing mine to use it herself. For my wedding she gave us two pairs of matching socks, wrapped in newspaper (I wish I was kidding). Oddly enough, aside from being a cheapskate, she's an affectionate and thoughtful person who worries about my mother's health and encourages us with (free) kind words. She is getting married soon and family tradition dictates that I get a gift for her separate from my parents, as I am now a married woman. I love giving gifts and usually go all out for weddings, but this time I'm sorely tempted to go as cheap as I can. My mom says I shouldn't stoop to her level, and to be generous. But I don't want my cousin to think she can be a selfish miser and expect the rest of the family to remain generous with her. What should I do?
A: Who is marrying this lunatic? Your cousin sounds sick, and I feel sorry for her potential children, dressed in flip flops in the winter because boots are so expensive. You are not going to teach her any lessons no matter if you give her an onion for a wedding gift or a silver place setting. Simply get her something nice (picture frame, salad bowl) that you can afford.
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