Q. I Was A Mistress: My fiancé's ex-wife cheated on him throughout their marriage. As a result, he holds adulterers in very low esteem. When we started dating, I hid from him the fact that I have had two long-term relationships with married men. Both relationships lasted for more than a year, and I knew at the time that my boyfriends were married. While I am not proud of dating married men, I am not apologetic about my past romances. Not many people knew about my infidelities, so I haven't done much to actively hide them from my fiancé. But now that we're engaged, I am terrified he will find out after we're married and think I trapped him into marriage. My fear is that if I tell my fiancé about the married men I dated he will see me as a completely new person. I was in my late teens and early 20s when I dated married men, and I have grown into such a different person since then, the person he knows now. I don't know how to tell him to show him I'm so much more than my mistakes.
A: My alarm bells are going off when you say at the time of the first affair you were still a teenager. Was this a teacher or someone else exploiting you? If so, that puts a different gloss on your behavior and this is something you need to explore psychologically. I think people are entitled to their pasts and do not have to reveal all. But they should reveal things they know would be highly germane to their beloved, and you're now acknowledging you've been hiding something he would find relevant. Since these were long-term relationships and presumably other people know, you do not want to be afraid one of your friends might slip and say something. So tell him. If he doesn't understand you were very young and would never make that choice again, then it's better to know that about him now.
Q . Neighborhood Watch: We moved to our rather "nice" neighborhood last year. I'm a person of color and was taking my young daughters (2 ½ and 3 months) for a stroll early this evening to look for ducks by the lake. As we were heading home, my older daughter asked if we could walk back to the lakefront to see the sailboats. So I made a loop back and that's when I noticed heavy traffic on an otherwise quiet street. It’s only when I saw the same cars over and over that I realized that these cars were following us (and of course the elderly couple that pointed at us in their white Jaguar). Next thing I know, our neighborhood watch "lead" is zooming by us. I guess he recognized me and called off the hounds. Prudie, I am really disappointed in my neighbors that someone would call us out for "suspicious behavior." I felt really sad about the whole affair and now I wonder if I should bring it up with the neighborhood watch lead and if so what should I say? My husband thinks I should rise above the bigotry.
A: There is something almost comical about the image of two old white people in a white Jaguar tracking the movements of a young mother of dark complexion strolling with her two highly suspicious babies. Except if you're that mother. I don't blame you for being distressed, but I agree with your husband that you should handle this with aplomb. Call the watch leader, describe what happened, and say that you know you're new in the neighborhood, but you hope the word goes out that you do not wish to be tailed when you, or your husband, takes your children out to enjoy their new surroundings.
Q. Crazy Sister-in-Law: My sister-in-law has created Facebook personalities for her two dogs and her cat. Her "animals" repeatedly friend request my son and my daughter, who are in their late teens. My kids don’t want to friend their aunt’s pets because when they have, in the past, she floods their walls with unintelligible "animal speak" posts about embarrassing childhood moments. My sister-in-law becomes upset when they won't accept her friend requests and sends them several unhappy "animal speak" messages a day. My husband thinks our kids should humor his sister, but given her odd behavior, I don't blame them for not wanting to accept her pets’ friend requests. I even feel the need to intervene on their behalf and explain to my sister-in-law that she's alienating her niece and her nephew. What say you?
A: Your sister-in-law sounds a little off, so she needs sympathy. However, that should not mean that she's allowed to harass her relatives. The kids may be tempted to send her an email that says, "Iz no accept puppies and kitty fwends." But it would be best if your husband—or you if he won't—just sent her an email explaining the kids limit their friends to their contemporaries and you all would appreciate if her "babies" stopped sending Facebook requests.
In a new approach, we’re publishing the chat transcript in shorter, more digestible pieces. You will still be getting all the questions and answers, and we may even publish bonus letters Emily Yoffe didn’t get to address during the chat hour.