Dear Prudence: I’d like to give my deceased wife’s vibrator to my new girlfriend.

Help! My Wife Hardly Used Her Vibrator Before She Died. Can I Give It to My New Girlfriend?

Help! My Wife Hardly Used Her Vibrator Before She Died. Can I Give It to My New Girlfriend?

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Advice on manners and morals.
March 14 2013 6:15 AM

Things That Make You Go Hmmm …

I’d like to give my new love the hardly used vibrator of my deceased wife. That cool?

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

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Dear Prudence,
In the summer of 2011 my wife and I purchased a top-of-the-line Jopen vibrator. We used it a few times and were just beginning to really integrate it into our sex lives when my wife died suddenly of a heart attack. (The vibrator had nothing to do with that.) Now, more than a year later, I've begun to date again. I've met a woman with an open mind, and I'm thinking she might be interested in using the vibrator. But I'm not sure how, or whether, to suggest it. Is it creepy to offer a dead woman's vibrator to someone else? And if so what else can I do with it? Sell it on Craigslist? It's an expensive piece of equipment, barely used, and it should be employed (and loved) once again. All of my wife's other major possessions found wonderful new homes with dear friends of hers. But then again, a vibrator's got a different—well, vibe about it. Sell it, toss it, or share it?



Dear Oscillating,
Talk about a buzz kill. I can’t even imagine raising the idea of asking your new squeeze to party with a vibrator “loved” by your late wife. Even if you’ve cleaned it off with Antibacterial Toy Cleaning Spray, this suggestion is going to cause unnecessary friction. I understand there is a piece of equipment, one permanently attached to you, that has been washed and used again with your new love. But paradoxically, intimate inanimate objects can feel more personal, and sharing certain ones would likely make anyone shudder. If just before her death your wife had bought a $140 Philips Sonicare HX6932/10 electric toothbrush, offering it to your girlfriend would make her gag. The Vanity by Jopen is also $140, comes in magenta, and its motor is apparently so powerful that when the user comes she’s probably magenta herself. But imagine trying to explain to your girlfriend that your wife only had a short time to enjoy her Jopen before her heart gave out—unrelated to the use of this equipment. There’s the rub: you don’t actually want to have that conversation. As for selling it on Craigslist, yes it’s possible that could find the vibrator a new home. But I would not want to meet the kind of person who would ring my bell in order to get a used vibrator. I understand you consider your Jopen investment-grade, but sometimes expenses just can’t be recouped.


Dear Prudence: Young White Supremacist

Dear Prudence,
I have been married for 16 years and can count on one hand the number of times my husband and I have had sex. For the first five months of our relationship sex was frequent and passionate. Then I got the engagement ring and the excuses started. I married him because he was the love of my life and hoped things would get better after the stress of planning a wedding was behind us. I was also in my mid-30s and wanted children. The honeymoon was a huge disappointment. Our two children were conceived through IVF. We have been in counseling, but at this point, I’m not attracted to him anymore. He is kind, smart, funny, and a great provider. He is a fabulous father and he and our young teenage twins would be devastated if we divorced. In five years, the twins will be in college. Do I leave him after the kids go and try to find someone else? Or stay and live in a comfortable but platonic marriage?


—Too Good to Go, Too Bad to Stay

Dear Bad,
On your way to the fertility clinic to mix up your gametes in the laboratory because your physically capable husband is so phobic and twisted about sex that he won’t do the deed with you, I wonder if an inner voice said, “This is completely crazy.” Yes, you were eager to have children, but when your husband insisted on a celibate honeymoon, that was the time to recognize the extent of his pathology. If you have a normal sex drive, I don’t know how you can consider continuing your monastic existence (actually, I’m betting a lot more sex has taken place at monasteries than in your marriage) once the kids have gone. Frankly, I don’t know why you should condemn yourself to another five years of this. If for the sake of your children’s stability that sacrifice seems worth it to you, that’s your choice. But I’d suggest you go back into couples therapy and discuss the possibilities of divorce or open marriage. Your husband has reneged on one of the basic principles of your union, and you’re entitled to seek a physical connection elsewhere. Since you must be incredibly sexually frustrated, I know a place where you get a fancy Jopen vibrator, cheap.


Dear Prudie,
I'm a single mother and my ex-husband has stopped paying child support (I'm working on that, but there’s no money now). I’ve got a new job in health care which is secure but low-paying. I have $20 in my checking account and am about to file for bankruptcy. My 11-year-old son and I are barely getting by, but I'm grateful for what we do have. He is not. I've shielded him as much as possible from our financial straits but that leaves him wondering why we don't eat out all the time like his friends, go out for entertainment like his friends, or constantly upgrade to the latest-and-greatest-whatever like his friends. What do I tell him when he asks for something and the real answer is, “I'm broke"? It’s not that he’s always asking for things that are extravagances. One week, we were out of milk and I couldn't get more because I didn't have the money. When this happens, what can I say?


—Trying to Be a Good Steward

Dear Trying,
“We can’t afford that” should be a standard part of the parental vocabulary; it’s not an example of child abuse. In trying to protect your son from the difficult realities of his circumstances, you have surely left him more anxious and confused. His father’s gone and isn’t even helping raise him financially. You try to act as if everything is fine, but then tell him there’s not going to be milk for the cereal until the end of the week. Your son deserves the truth, told carefully and sensitively. Explain to him that because you’re living on a single income, and you don’t get paid a lot, money is tight. Fortunately, you have a good job, a home, and you’re both going to be OK. But you two need to live on a strict budget. That means you can’t buy some of things for him his friends have, and restaurants are for very special treats. Then tell him you two are going to work as a team. Have him grocery shop with you and keep track of what you’re spending—that will be good for his math skills. At home make cheap, delicious meals together—learning to cook will be another excellent life skill. Enroll him in free activities; for example see if there’s a nearby Boys & Girls Club. Look into all the services that are available to you: food stamps, food banks, subsidized meals at school, etc. Convey to him that living within your means does not mean deprivation, but the comfort in knowing that what you have, you can pay for.


Dear Prudence,
I am an American female by birth and my husband is from a conservative Asian country. His relatives recently moved to the U.S. and visit our home, and we theirs, frequently. My husband and I live an Americanized lifestyle, but I try to respect the cultural differences between us and his family. One problem is proper female attire. My in-laws believe a woman's clothes should cover everything except forearms. When my husband and I visit their home I try to wear their cultural dress or baggy clothes of my own. But how much I should change my style when they are visiting our home? Once when they came in the summer I wore a skirt and T-shirt and they looked at me in shock. Am I rude not to change my clothing style for my conservative family guests?


—Foreign Fashion Faux Pas

Dear Faux,
As summer draws near and shorts, tanks tops, halters, and flip-flops become de rigueur on city streets, your in-laws are going to be dropping not from the heat but from the sights. They are in America now. If they don’t like how Americans dress, they are just a plane ride away from a place where they are more comfortable with the sartorial standards. I agree with you about the distinction between your visiting their home, and their visiting yours. But in an effort to be overly accommodating, you are giving them the wrong idea about who you are when you appear at their door in their typical garb. It’s respectful to dress more conservatively in their home, but they need to get used to seeing you in your own clothing. When they visit you, wear what you would if you were entertaining any older guest. So in the summer that means a T-shirt and skirt is just fine. Joining their family and respecting their culture is not the same as adopting it. There’s no need for you to be defensive about dressing appropriately for American eyes.



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Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.