Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
Oct. 12 2009 2:47 PM

Girlfriend Keeps STD a Secret

Prudie counsels a woman concerned about her pal's sins of omission—and other advice seekers.

(Continued from Page 2)


re: Herpes Question: If I were sleeping with someone who had herpes and did not tell me, I would be overjoyed if her friend had the guts to tell me. A relationship founded on that kind of lie is already over to me anyway; it says a lot about her character that she would lie about that.

After her friend does that once or twice, she will likely start to be more forthcoming with her partners or cut ties with this friend. Either way, her friend—and at least one person—will be spared this woman's grief.

Emily Yoffe: Your point of view does more for public health. The herpes letter is also a good lesson that people can't assume a new sexual partner is going to bring up such issues and they should initiate a sexual health discussion themselves. Of course, if the carrier would then lie about it, she really is unredeemable.


Re: Stepson: The last poster has it wrong. The sick boy was the stepson's friend, not the stepson, so it's perfectly reasonable to ask why the sick friend's parents did not make the friend stay home.

Emily Yoffe: OK, reading the letter again, yes, readers are right to correct me that the stepmother thinks bringing a friend with a cold is perhaps worse than not telling your partner you have herpes. However, I still believe the son brought the friend because he needed help to get through another tense weekend with his tightly wound stepmother. This kid came, he sniffled, and he left. Probably everyone will live.


New York, N.Y.: So, I have a problem that is cropping up repeatedly and bothering me, and I'm not sure how seriously to take this.

I've been dating this really amazing man for nearly a year, and we get along famously. I also have a best friend, "D," whom, over the past year, ESPECIALLY when she is between love interests, is almost brazenly open about her infatuation with my boyfriend.


She is the type to often hide behind jokes, so most of the time it's easy enough to ignore/blow off her comments in a social setting, because, hey, maybe she's just clumsily trying to get a laugh ("Have you met X's boyfriend, aka my future husband?").

But she just broke up with a guy, and last weekend got pretty drunk and proceeded to tell my boyfriend that he looks like he'd be reeeally good in bed, and that's he's just the cutest, etc.

He graciously changed the subject or ignored her commentary, but when he left to get me a drink, D turned to me and said, "Do you think he knows that I love him? He knows, doesn't he. I REALLY like him."

It's as if she forgot he and I are a COUPLE. I told her it was pretty obvious how she felt, and left it at that.

Now that she's her sober self, I'm debating whether or not to bring this up. On the one hand, it all seems moot: I trust my boyfriend and my judgment in choosing him, and I'm hardly worried that he's more than flattered/slightly creeped-out by her behavior.

On the other hand, I feel like D is totally disrespecting me. Do you think this is worth addressing, and how do I go about doing that without coming off as a presumptuous drama queen? FWIW, my boyfriend thinks she needs therapy.

Emily Yoffe: You are worrying about sounding like a presumptuous drama queen because your "best friend" likes to throw herself at your boyfriend and announce to the world that she's actually the one who's right for him? You are long overdue for a forthright conversation with her explaining the jokes aren't funny, and her behavior crosses the line and makes everyone uncomfortable. If she doesn't shape up, you need to relegate her to the heap of former BFFs.



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