Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at Washingtonpost.com.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
Aug. 24 2009 3:03 PM

R U Listening 2 Me?

Prudie counsels anyone who's ever been ignored by rude texters—and other advice seekers.

(Continued from Page 1)

Emily Yoffe: Let's see, what would an appropriate thank you gift be for a lovely weekend: A pre-paid STD screen? A bottle of Viagra? A case of depilatory? I'm afraid you've got me stumped [Note to my husband—I hope YOU don't have any idea what's "proper" here, either!] This seems like a case where the people on your swingers listserv can best tell you the ins and outs of the etiquette of your hobby.

_______________________

Atlanta, Ga.: One of my closest friends lives in a town where I recently attended a wedding. We had arranged well in advance to get together while I was in town. She is notorious for not showing up and coming up with excuses at the last minute whenever something better comes along.

Sure enough, the morning we were to get together she texted me and said she had to go out of town at the last minute to get away. She was having a health scare and wouldn't have answers until that Monday.

Monday came around and I gave her a few hours after the doctor's appointment before I called. She never returned my call. Fearing the worst I called her sister who told me everything was fine.

My "friend" e-mailed two days later saying she was fine and went shopping and out to eat to celebrate.

I was shocked that she would leave me hanging in limbo like that. I'm done with her antics. Should I let it go or should I tell her why I'm cutting ties?

Emily Yoffe: Sure, go ahead and tell her her friendship has meant a lot to you over the years, but you've been increasingly feeling that following through on plans with you holds no interest for her. Say that being stood up on your last visit felt like she was delivering a message that your friendship is kaput. Say you have sadly come to agree, and wish her the best.

_______________________

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New York: My sister and I used to be best friends, but she insists on staying friendly with my ex-husband. He did not treat me well, so it's sort of shocking to me that he is welcome in her home. When I tell her how this upsets me, she laughs (in a mean way). There was no prior history between them, and there are no children or other factors that would seem to warrant the closeness post-divorce. I figure she can choose her friends, but I can't be close with her if she's going to rub my face in it. I miss her, but I'm happier without the stress. Am I wrong?

Emily Yoffe: Do they have a standing Tuesday tea party? Does she make a point of letting you know that they regularly socialize? Often people expect that their exes should be excommunicated from all family relationships, even if other people have developed their own closeness over many decades with the ex. Such a stance is unfair—especially if there are children involved who are going to keep the ex in the family orbit (which I know is not true in this case). Another extenuating circumstance is the reason for the divorce. If the ex behaved abominably, then that should color the feelings the rest of the family has toward the ex.

The situation you describe sounds a little bizarre. If your sister is rubbing this relationship in your face, as you say, and dismissing your hurt, then you need to explore with sis just what's going on. Perhaps you issued a diktat that there is to be no communication between the ex and her, and that was the opening salvo. You've given up on your husband, but before you give up on your sister, get together with her and tell her you miss her. Acknowledge that you don't want to, nor can you, determine her relationships, but say you know you're not quite rational on this subject because your ex caused you so much pain. Without rancor, and keeping as rational as possible, say you want to hear her thinking on this. Tell her you want to work this out so you can resume your closeness—and that means you must be open to hearing her point of view.

_______________________

Boston: My husband and I are leaving for our vacation tomorrow. I researched the destinations, applied for our passports, booked our flights, bought the guidebooks, and circled several hotels that I said I'd be happy staying in. The only task I gave my husband was choosing one of them and making reservations. I just found out yesterday that he didn't. Everything nice in our price range is booked now; we're staying in a noisy hostel on the outskirts of town.

I'm so frustrated with him that I'm having a hard time getting excited for the vacation. We don't take time off often, and I was really looking forward to having a relaxing room. Obviously, it's too late to cancel the trip, and we can't magically produce a room that doesn't exist ... so what's the best way to deal with my anger so it doesn't ruin the trip?

Emily Yoffe: If this was a one-time lapse because he just got overwhelmed at work and it slipped his mind, then make a conscious decision not to ruin your vacation. Over the course of your marriage, you too, will make mistakes. But the phrase "the only task I gave my husband" appears to be the key here. It sounds as if you're the manager of your marriage and he's an unreliable subordinate. If this is part of a passive-aggressive pattern because he's rebelling against you, the boss, then you two have to be able to talk about the pattern you've fallen into, and figure out how to get out of it. As for your vacation, stay very, very busy during the day so that when you collapse in your room at night, it doesn't matter that it's not overlooking the Left Bank. Nightly grumbling about how he screwed up will only make both of you miserable.

_______________________

New York: Hi Prudie, thanks for taking my question. When I was 24, I started writing my first novel. I worked on it intermittently for two and a half years and finally finished it earlier this year. The good news (apart from having finished it) is that an editor is interested in the manuscript; the bad news is that I have to do a major revision first, and although she's offered guidance, I can't be assured of actually getting published until I've done the rewrite. I should be thrilled, but instead, I'm despondent. My life has changed so much in three years—I'm married now, I have a demanding day job, and am the primary breadwinner for my household. The unstructured time I used to enjoy that allowed me to start the novel in the first place is long gone, and though I've tried to just sit down after work, focus, and write, I have nothing left at the end of the day. I'm afraid that my lifelong goal of publishing a book will never be realized because life got in the way. How can I get myself over this hump?

Emily Yoffe: First of all, stop and congratulate yourself for finishing a manuscript and actually getting an editor interested in it! You have done the really hard part. Now, don't think of your task as rewriting this book. Instead decide you are going to revise a chapter. Surely you can carve out an hour in the morning, some time at lunch, or block out some sacred time on the weekends for simply redoing a chapter. Then you revise the next chapter, etc. Just make this revision a part of your life like going to the gym, walking the dog, watching Mad Men. "Life" won't get in the way if you decide revising your book is part of your new life.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: "Oh, I see you're busy. I'll hold my thought until you're done."

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