Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the 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 email@example.com.)
Q. Feeling Dirty: My boyfriend and I have been together for over two years. Around 10 months ago we moved in together. Things have been pretty normal except one thing. Let me tell you first, that I grew up in a house where we did not speak of bathroom behavior. As a result of that, I am quite uncomfortable talking about going number two. I am as secretive as I can be when I have to do my duty. Now that “Ron” and I are living together, I have to divulge certain information on a need to know basis. More specifically, if I have diarrhea. These times I have had to explain, “You may not want to go in there for a while.” The weird thing is, 15 minutes or so after telling him such, Ron initiates sex. I find it gross and confusing. He knows how uncomfortable I feel as it is. This has happened four times so far. He denies a pattern or that it’s unusual. Am I the one being weird about this?
A: If he has a kink about this, just think how thrilled he must be to discover that you have a very sensitive stomach. Given your family background, it’s understandable that you’d like your boyfriend to be in a different ZIP code when you move your bowels. But moving on past your own family’s hang-ups is going to be good for you in the long run, especially if you suffer from long runs. I agree that it does sounds like more than a coincidence that your boyfriend wants to have sex every time you limp out of the bathroom pale and spent. Sure it sounds weird, but if you look up fetishes, if this is one of his, it will end up sounding pretty mild. You’ve asked, but he refuses to acknowledge that he has fecal attraction. (I can’t take credit for this phrase—I found it while trying to quickly Google this kink.) I suggest two things—if you frequently get diarrhea for unexplained reasons, you need to see a doctor. And if you are recovering from a violent evacuation and are really not in the mood, just tell Ron now is not the time for sexual healing.
Dear Prudence: Jealous of Boyfriend’s Dog
Q. Tipping: My girlfriend and I have an argument going and are looking to you to help us. Whenever we go out to eat, I pay for the meal and tip on my credit card. When I tip, I always tip at least 20 percent, but I tip in such a way that the total bill comes out to a whole dollar amount. For example, if the meal was $28.42, I would probably tip $6.58, for a total bill of $35.00. Having the total bill be a whole dollar amount is my slight OCD quirk. My girlfriend thinks it is rude to tip those odd change amounts, envisioning waiters with pocketfuls of “useless change” at the end of their shift. My response is that I am a courteous customer, a good tipper and that any extra money is good for the waiter/waitress. What are your thoughts?
A: If you are tipping servers at least 20 percent, I’m sure they don’t mind what calculations are used to arrive at this. Given that most people tip in whole dollar amounts, if it’s added to the total after tax, the servers are going to be getting an odd amount of change, anyway. There’s nothing rude about what you’re doing and if your girlfriend is so concerned about this harmless quirk, she should be the one whipping out her credit card.
Q. Boobs at the Dinner Table: My husband and I recently moved to a new city and are trying our best to make friends. Last night we went to a dinner party organized by my co-workers, one of whom brought her baby. Imagine my surprise when, as we’re all seated at the dinner table, “Lauren” whips out her breast and starts feeding baby right alongside us! I have no problem with breast-feeding and I know baby has to eat, too, but I admit I was a little surprised to see bared breasts at the dinner table, in particular at a gathering where not everyone knew one another. Am I being a prude, Prudie? Or can I balance being supportive of breast-feeding and still draw the line at what I have to watch while I eat?
A: I’m very glad you didn’t announce: “Lauren, I’m lactose intolerant, please take your milk elsewhere.” When I was a nursing mother, I excused myself from the table unless it was an all-female event. But OK, OK, I understand that leaving means the mother might miss the whole meal. If you’re going to stay, every nursing woman knows how to accomplish this discreetly so that baby and breast are covered. Given the general din of a dinner party, no one would even have heard the baby’s lip-smacking praise of his or her meal. You are new in town and want to make friends. You may personally have been put off, but declaring aloud you are disgusted with the behavior of those at table is best left unsaid.
Q. Telling SIL to Tone It Down: My husband’s sister gifted me a beautiful diamond necklace for my birthday. I wanted to thank her and also invite her for my birthday party, but have hesitated based on past experience. Last year, she showed up for my party in a flashy designer gown and was the center of attention with her humorous anecdotes. I don’t possess her shapely figure or her wit and cannot afford designer clothes. Is there a way I can ask her to tone down the act this time? I don’t want to sound petty and insecure while doing it.
A: I suppose you could tell her that the party this year is going to be casual so you’d appreciate if she’d wear a Hefty bag. Then you can give her a dog muzzle at the door so as to cut back on the humorous anecdotes. I actually don’t know if your sister is the life of the party and everyone leaves having been thoroughly entertained, or whether she’s an attention hog who take over the evening. You concede she looks great and is very funny. Guests like that are generally perceived to be a plus. So either you invite her and enjoy the sparkle and liveliness she brings, or you leave her off the list and deal with the consequences.
Q. Not Liking PDA Is Rude?: My brother and his girlfriend make out passionately in front of everyone, including when people are sitting on the couch next to them. They’re not teenagers—both are in their mid-20s. Our immediate family, as well as several extended family members and friends, have expressed our discomfort in being basically forced to watch them making out. We have attempted to be very welcoming of the girlfriend. Recently, she and my brother announced that our family is rude because we ask them not to exhibit PDA in front of us. That it’s a sign that we don’t like her and in order for us to accept their relationship, we need to be OK with their displays of affection. His GF has actually been rather hostile recently and it’s apparently due to the fact that we’re all “rude.” I guess I’m just looking for confirmation that none of us are crazy to feel like we don’t need to witness our brother making out with his girlfriend constantly and how you would suggest handling the situation.