I’m a 30-year-old woman whose parents got divorced when I was 15. My father has never been open about having a relationship since the divorce. I was visiting him a while ago and went to look up something on his iPad. His mail browser was open and I happened to see an email between him and another man with the sign off "love you.” I know I shouldn't have looked any further, but this was a surprising turn of events. So I scrolled through the emails and I’m quite certain that my father is in a relationship with this man. I haven't said anything, but I feel burdened by this secret. I love my father so much and I don't care if he’s gay. I'd actually be thrilled to know that he isn't alone and is in a happy relationship. I realize I’m getting dramatic, but I dread never talking about it and then at his funeral meeting his male lovers. I’m upset my father thinks this needs to be a secret and I also want to know the person my father is in love with! I'm wondering how to bring this up without it being embarrassing or putting him on the spot. We are close but don't have the type of relationship where we just talk about everything and he’s always been evasive on the subject of relationships.
—Outing My Dad
It’s so true that we now have unprecedented ability to track in real-time our loved one’s secret lives. It will be a little sad to see the end of the box of mementos, found after the death of one’s nearest and dearest, which reveals shocking and unexpected twists in the psyches of those we thought we knew best. But now there aren’t letters and snapshots. Instead practically all of us carry our own dossiers and tracking devices. Sure, you snooped, but I can understand your following the tantalizing clue that Dad’s lonely bachelor persona is just a cover for a fulfilling gay life. How sad that even as the world has changed so dramatically around him, your father apparently feels such a sense of shame that he doesn’t want you to know. All you can do is be brave enough to tell him and assure him you're happy about this discovery. I’m betting that once he gets over his instinctive fatherly reaction to chide you for going through his things, he will feel an enormous sense of relief that the secret, and he, are out. If he’s able to open up about his life and loves, the next time you visit you must watch together the lovely movie on this theme, Beginners.
My live-in boyfriend spent some of his formative years abroad and came to swear by the bidet. He claims it is more hygienic and feels better than using toilet paper. The problem is that he has been unable to kick his reliance on this method. Needless to say, there are few bidets available to him in the States. He has thus taken matters into his own hands. His preferred method of cleaning is to wipe once or twice and then to hop up onto the sink and clean out there, using water, soap, and his hand. While this grossed me out at first, we have agreed that this is OK in our bathroom as long as he cleans the sink and his hands afterward. We differ, however, on what is acceptable outside of our home. If the sink is sturdy and private, he engages in this style of personal hygiene at the houses of our friends and family. I have told him that I think it is gross and inappropriate for him to use his makeshift method at other people's houses; he counters that that he makes sure to leave the bathroom clean for the next occupant. Please clean this up for us once and for all!
Your letter gave me such a sinking feeling. Now I live in fear that my overnight guests who lived abroad might end up on the floor of the bathroom, straddling the formerly free-standing sink. Maintaining acceptable cleanliness should not require the skills of a contortionist. Tell your boyfriend to climb out of other people’s fixtures and give him a travel pack of wet wipes. (There’s also this high-end answer for your home.) Another solution was hit upon by legendary director Billy Wilder. While on a trip to France his wife requested he bring back a bidet for her. He cabled this reply: "Bidet impossible to obtain. Suggest handstand in shower."
More Dear Prudence Columns
“Compassion Without Passion: My husband’s brain injury ended our romance. Should I take a lover?” Posted Jan. 26, 2012.
“Maid of Dishonor: Should I skip a wedding because my girlfriend hooked up with three of the groomsmen?” Posted Jan. 19, 2012.
“Schoolgirl Fantasy: My boyfriend wants me to call him "Daddy" during sex. Gross!” Posted Jan. 12, 2012.
“Love Is in the Air: Is breaking wind in front of your boyfriend worth breaking up over?” Posted Jan. 5, 2012.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“Workplace Rivalry: During a live chat, Dear Prudence advises a worker whose colleague impersonated her to sabotage a rival job candidate.” Posted Feb. 6, 2012.
“One-Night Stand or Rape?: In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman whose friend revised the story of a drunken encounter with a stranger.” Posted Jan. 30, 2012.
“Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?: In a live chat, Dear Prudence offers advice on whether an unfaithful spouse can be an honest businessman.” Posted Jan. 23, 2012.
“Pregnant Pause: In a live chat, Dear Prudence advises an expecting woman who isn’t sure she wants to move closer to her baby’s father.” Posted Jan. 17, 2012.
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