Dear Prudie: Advice on roommate masturbation, criminal relatives, and friendly affairs.

Help! My Dorm Mate Diddles Herself While I’m in the Room.

Help! My Dorm Mate Diddles Herself While I’m in the Room.

Advice on manners and morals.
April 2 2012 3:09 PM

The Wrong Touch

In a live chat, Dear Prudence offers advice on a frisky roommate, felonious family members, and friends who become lovers.

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Q. Surrogacy: Prudie: Maybe I'm missing something, but why would cousin require three months to recover from giving birth, particularly if she won't have a newborn or responsibilities related to having a new child to deal with?

A: Yes, the cousin may be milking the situation, especially since she won't be providing milk to the new infant. But three months of housekeeping is still going to be cheaper than the going rate for a surrogate, so the couple should shell out the cash.

Q. Re: Lights Out Happy Time: Since this chat is anonymous, I'll confess. I used to do this when my college roommate was in the room, wide awake, studying (with her back to me, but still)! I put my knee up with bathrobe over it to hide what I was doing, but it would have been hard to miss. Teenage hormones! She was great—didn't mention a thing!


A: Perhaps one of those times she was researching a paper for her Human Biology class.  I hope she got an A.

Q. In Response To Reveal an Affair: A few years ago, my husband had an affair and I found out about it. Turns out, the person he had the affair was a "friend" of mine. When I didn't know for certain what was going on, both of them were lying to me, saying I was imagining things. My husband and I have worked through things and are happy to this day. The friend deserves the truth. It is the only way to possibly salvage the friendship—it is up to her friend if she still wants to be around, not the husband of the writer.

A: I don't think the friendship is salvageable.  But you're right, knowing something is wrong and being treated as if you are the crazy one can actually make you feel crazy.  I do agree that the innocent friend is entitled to the truth, or at the very least an acknowledgment of the letter writer's strange behavior.

Q. Brother’s Children: The OP should also see if she can find some advice from a family law expert and their local social services office. It seems that if the brother is incapable of caring for his children, he can potentially be required to provide child support at some level. The OP could also find out if these children qualify for Medicaid or other assistance programs given their situation. It may be that the speech therapy and even some other services may be covered through some kind of assistance. The OP is doing a wonderful thing in supporting these kids, but may be able to reduce her family stress by tapping all the resources that may be available for these kids.

A: Agreed that the aunt needs to avail herself of all the financial and other assistance that's available and wherever the girls end up, there has to be some legal protection for them.  Another reader pointed out that if the mother is completely disabled, the children are likely eligible for Social Security benefits.

Q. Sister Cursed Out Other Woman in Front of Our Kids: My sister and I recently took our kids (all under 12) to a children's play. While there we had the misfortune to encounter the former friend with whom my sister's husband cheated on her. The other woman and her daughter had tickets in the row in front of us, and my sister began insulting her. My sister called the other woman a dumb whore and worse. I understood my sister's rage, but because we were all with our kids and surrounded by other children, urged her to calm down. Eventually security was involved, and my sister was escorted from the premises. I did not want her to be alone with her kids, so I chose to leave with my kids as well. Outside we argued about whether her behavior was appropriate. I pointed out that the other woman's daughter overheard the exchange, and she accused me of caring more about a random child than her. Now she won't talk to me until I apologize. I love my sister very much and know she's gone through an incredible amount of pain in the past year, but I can't see any justification for using the language she did around kids. Plus, the other woman's child is innocent. What should I do to mend our relationship?

A: Oh, married people with the hots for the spouses of your friends, please think first about the havoc you will wreak. Your sister was outrageously out of line, so much so that I think she needs professional help.  She's the one who should be apologizing, but go ahead and say you are sorry for what you said.  If this allows you to get to the more important point—that you sister needs help—that's a small price to pay. Tell her you're concerned about her and that a counselor, and maybe medication, will help her cope with what's she's been through.

Q. Brother-in-Law: My husband's sister's husband is facing three to five years in federal prison when he gets sentenced next week. We are kind of at a loss as to how to treat him. His crimes were financial, but they were predatory and show an amazing lack of moral character. My sister-in-law intends to stay married and wait out the prison sentence, but they have no children, and I'm not sure how her intentions will play out. A part of me feels sympathy for the predicament he is facing; he was the best man at our wedding and the godfather to our son. Another part of me is absolutely horrified at the greed and callousness of his behavior. My husband intends to visit him while he's away, which is fine, but I don't know whether I want to, and I am much more concerned that my husband has told him that he will try to bring our kids (9 and 6) to visit. I don't want to throw him away, but I'm just at a total loss as to how to handle this with both compassion and some sense of the fact that he is being punished for his crimes, and maybe he should be isolated. I just don't know, and as best I know, no one I know has been in this predicament, so my friends’ attitude of "screw him" is much more heart wrenching than they realize.

A: You and your husband are each free to make your own decision. If you find your brother-in-law beyond the pale, then don't visit.  But you understand that your husband feels it would be better not to isolate your brother-in-law, so it's good you understand and accept his decision. As for the kids, I think you should explain to them in a way they will understand that their uncle committed some serious crimes involving other people's money.  But this guy is their uncle, not their father, so I don't think they need to be exposed to the clanging bars. 

Q. My Adulteress Daughter Wants Advice: I recently found out my daughter is embroiled in an affair with a married man. She's been encouraging him to leave his wife and is despondent when he refuses. She confessed her relationship to me because we've always been close and she needs support. Even though I love her beyond all reason, I'm appalled at how my daughter has been conducting herself. She told me the other night she hates this man's wife and thinks the wife must be aware of the affair, just willfully ignoring it. I want to help my daughter, but I think she wants a free pass on her behavior. I cannot offer her that. Am I being too judgmental? She is an independent woman in her mid-twenties. What should I tell her? I know she's a good person but cannot bring myself to approve of an affair.

A: You tell her the truth. And that is that you love her but are dismayed to see her involved in such a tawdry situation. You say hearing her express a desire to hurt someone else doesn't sound like her, and you think this situation is terribly damaging. Then you say that having expressed your thoughts, you can't be her confidante as regards the affair.  Reiterate that you adore her, and you understand the power of a new love, but that you two will have to carve out  zone of silence around the affair.

Q. Earplugs: I sleep with earplugs every night and I feel much more refreshed in the morning. I asked an otolaryngologist and they said it is not a problem.

A: Thanks for the (second-hand) medical endorsement!

Emily Yoffe:  Thanks everyone.   Maybe this chat will convince someone on the verge of that affair to act more like the college roommate and save everyone a load of heartache.

Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.