Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is online 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. Husband’s Crude Humor: My husband thinks it’s acceptable to make crude jokes in my presence: Farting at the dinner table, jokes about women’s rear ends as we drive by them on the street, jokes about female masturbation, crude references to his and my body parts. I hate crude humor and think it’s a turn-off. He did not act this way when we were dating. Now that we’re married, it happens several times a week. When I tell him it bothers me, he says a) that he was “just joking,” b) that he would never say those things around other people, and c) that I’m being too sensitive. I’ve asked him to save these jokes for when he’s hanging out with his brother or guy friends, but they haven’t stopped. Help!
A: I’ve really got to stop writing letters to myself! My marriage would be a desolation without crude humor and farts. (I’d say fart jokes, but the fart is the joke.) However, everyone has their tolerance for this, and your husband has exceeded yours. I do think that once you’re married it’s unfair to expect spouses to hold their gas the way they did while dating. But vowing till death do you part does not give one carte blanche for farting at the dining room table. You’ve told your husband he has exceeded your tolerance, so now act. If he farts at the table at home, pick up your plate and say you’ll be eating in the kitchen. Tell him that his comments on women’s rear ends, etc., make you feel like you’re party to a bait and switch. Explain you’ve always disliked guys who talk that way, and it’s unfair that he hid this aspect of himself from you, but now he needs to go back to keeping the crude remarks under wraps. If he makes one of these jokes, stony silence is the best response. However, you don’t want to take a totally prudish stance on all bodily commentary. Maybe you can consider loosening up when it comes to describing each other’s body parts and how you plan to use them.
Q. Fantasized About Ex During Sex With BF: You often advocate for people in relationships to fantasize in their sexual experiences with their significant others as a way to keep sex exciting and reduce infidelity. A couple of nights ago I was having sex with my BF and started thinking about my ex, who I haven’t seen in over five years. I orgasmed thinking about him, but had to turn away from my BF because I felt so overwhelmed by the fantasy. What are your thought on this? I feel really confused and am not looking forward to having sex with my BF if something like this happens again. My BF and I have a decent sex life, but I don’t know how to feel now that this fantasy has shaken me up.
A: So you ran a private movie in your head that vastly improved the sex with your boyfriend and now you want to stop having sex with him. I really am confused. I hear from lots of women who sadly just don’t get much pleasure from sex. Yes, I encourage them to fantasize, but they seem to lack that internal erotic ability. But luckily, you’ve got it. It’s possible that that you felt you needed to retreat into a fantasy because the previous boyfriend was better at turning you on. “A decent sex life” is hardly a ringing endorsement. So if there are things you want your boyfriend to do, start instructing. You can say your sex life is really satisfying, and it would be even better if you experimented with positions, or had more foreplay, or whatever it is that gets you going. On the other hand, if your fantasy is telling you that you simply aren’t happy in this relationship, then that’s something different all together. But most people would be eager to get back in the sack and let the film start running.
Q. Friendcest: A good friend, “Liz” and I went to the same college, where we developed a very close-knit group of friends. Liz and our friend “Greg” drunkenly hooked up freshman year, and Liz developed a bit of an infatuation, though Greg did not return those feelings. Now we’re all juniors and Liz is seeing the same guy she resorted to after Greg. Unexpectedly, Greg and I developed strong feelings for each other, and we really would like to have an honest relationship, but we fear how our friends will react to being left in the dark, especially since we have long discouraged relationships in the circle, and I especially fear losing Liz as a friend. On one hand, I shouldn’t have gotten involved with Greg knowing how she felt, but on the other, it’s been two years, she has a boyfriend she seems content with, and that should leave Greg as fair game. I feel like I have to make a choice between my best friends and a man that I could really see myself being with, and I’m not sure which I would rather give up.
A: I understand that romance within a gang alters the dynamic. But for goodness’ sake, how are young people supposed to get experience at intimate relationships (beyond being friends with benefits) and find people with whom to have these relationships if coupling up is verboten? You are all young adults, so you do not need permission from the group to pursue your attraction. Liz had an unfortunate one-night stand with Greg. This does not make Greg her subject, and no one has to seek Liz’s permission to date Greg. You and Greg should do what you want, and see how you feel. You’ll know when it’s time for the big reveal, and let’s hope when it comes, the group just says, mazel tov! But if Liz wants to have a snit, she should talk out her hurt feelings with her own boyfriend.
Q. Good Sport: My boyfriend works in semi-professional sports. He works extremely long hours (12- to 15-hour days on game days) during the season of his sport. He frequently works weekends during the season and at least once a month in the off-season. It’s made it so he can’t participate in some family trips with me. I understand his not going if he would need to miss multiple games and other events, but he is unwilling to even miss one game out of 70-plus a season. His co-workers all occasionally miss games and I think his boss would give him the time off. He’s great at his job and I think he’s afraid something will go wrong when he’s gone. But I feel it’s not the end of the world if one game is a bit of a mess because he’s not there. I appreciate his work ethic but it’s hard when he won’t go for a quick weekend trip or to an out of town funeral with me. How do we talk about this?
A: My husband doesn’t work in sports, but he might as well because when there’s a game—no matter what the game—he would fail to follow a civil defense evacuation order because, well, there’s a game. Your boyfriend’s job requires him to be at the game, so I don’t understand why you want to make him prove that you’re more important to him. If you ran a restaurant and Saturday night was your money maker, I assume you’d resent it if he kept saying he wanted to do something fun with you Saturday, and you should just get someone to cover. You mention that while there is a season, there’s also an off-season, and when he’s off surely you can get your fill of weekend trips. Of course, if there’s a family funeral at which it would be normal for him to attend, he should ask to be able to attend. But if you’re going to a funeral of someone he didn’t know well, and you you’re using it as an excuse to try to extract him from the game, then it’s you who aren’t being a good sport.