Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, chats with readers weekly on Mondays here at Slate. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Emily Yoffe: Welcome, everyone, to the first live chat at Slate! We're really excited to take the chat to our home base. Please bear with us today as we figure out how to get our chat software running smoothly. If I suddenly fall silent, I hope it's not a stroke, but just a technical glitch.
Q. Daddy's Escort Girl: My daughter is in her last year of college, and of course with finances tight, it has been a family economic concern getting her through. I just found out that my wife has given her blessing for our daughter to become an escort to men who, as it was explained, is only for dinner and legitimate social events that will pay extremely well. I have a hard time believing this, much less stomaching the whole idea. Are there really legitimate escorts? I'm figuring rich men probably are seeking more than a dinner date and can dangle their wealth as a means toward seduction.
A: The Obama administration just issued suggestions for Congress to consider about how to relieve the crushing burden of student debt. Fortunately, no one is suggesting the Sugar Daddy Education Relief Act of 2014. I share your stomach-dropping concern about the idea that your daughter would be a dinner companion to men who want to pay for the pleasure of her company. That is skin-crawling enough, but I agree that a meal is likely the opening wedge to more lucrative and intimate encounters. But even if her old-enough-to-be-her-father companions behaved as gentlemen, learning how to exchange her loveliness for money does not seem like the kind of lesson she should be focusing on in her senior year. Yes, college is outrageously expensive, and avoiding debt is crucial. So if you all are having trouble paying for her degree, you need to discuss your options with the school's financial aid office. And you and your wife need to have some private talks about what you want for your girl and presenting a united front.
Q. Dilemma: In October a cousin I have always been very close to died of a terrible illness. It was devastating—to me, her husband, her four kids, her entire circle. I cried for three days straight, nonstop, and sporadically since then. Her husband has always been good about keeping me up to date on everything, and we chatted off and on ever since her death. In March, things changed. I met him for the weekend, and we had sex for two days. We talked constantly from that point on about getting together again. I developed strong feelings and thought things were progressing. He did not. He has a new girlfriend in his town who has already spent the weekend at his house. I am devastated. Am I a terrible person? I had been planning to go for a visit this summer because I want to stay close to the kids but is it now out of the question? I do not sleep around. He's the second man in my 40 years of life.
A: Neither you nor your cousin are terrible people. Grief is a different country, and perhaps not so paradoxically, people suffering loss sometimes feel a new urgency about being alive. So you two came together intensely but briefly. I understand you are now hurt and baffled, but please don't disappear from the lives of these children. I'm concerned that their father is already bringing a new woman into their lives—he needs to be very careful about attending to their emotional needs and not confusing them—but his romantic life is not an issue you can address. But you two do need to address your situation. You should contact him and say you understand your personal interlude is over but that you still want to come see the kids this summer. Say that you two need to be sure you can put your issues aside and just focus on the children; but please only say this if you truly mean it. You lost a dear relative, and now you feel battered by this romantic encounter. But I hope you can use this experience to realize that even if this widower is not the man for you, you are ready to get more out of life.
Q. Schedule: So what will be the Slate schedule now for your column? A live chat on Tuesday and then your regular column on Thursday?
A: The chat is going to go back to its Monday at noon slot next week—and now Slate readers will be able to read it on the site in real time. The regular column will continue to be posted on Thursday. Lots of people have questions about the relationship of the chat to Slate Plus. As you can see, the chat is on the site and free to everyone. Of course, we want you to join Slate Plus for all sorts of extras, but Dear Prudence is available to all readers.