Dear Prudence: A selection of love interests.
Our consultants have heard this over the years. Every Sunday we delve into the Dear Prudie archives and share a classic letter with our readers. Join Slate Plus for more advice columns.
I’ve been through a lot in the past year. My now ex-husband left me after I finally got pregnant after years of trying. I decided to have an abortion, which was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, even though I think it was the right one. I later started dating a friend who supported me throughout the process. He’s an unconventional partner: he has a criminal record to take responsibility for, lives paycheck to paycheck, is covered in tattoos, but also smart, family-oriented, funny, and excited and lovable. However, we dated long distance, which was very difficult. I got frustrated and looked for a local company. I found a conventionally attractive man who is nice, silly, sweet. But it doesn’t excite me like my long distance flame.
Now comes the “DTR” conversation and I can’t choose, no matter how many times I try to do mental gymnastics. On paper (I literally made must-have lists) my local guy would be a better “investment”. To my heart’s content, I long for my exciting, unusual man. Am I selfish trying to have my cake and eat it too? Or should a grown woman decide that alone?
I don’t think you should date someone you have feelings for he is very excited to “try to have his cake and eat it too”. I think there are only reasonable expectations for a relationship. If you haven’t already, discussing “local friendship” with your long distance friend is a good idea, but I don’t think your dilemma is choosing between the two. I think the point is to ask for what you want, be prepared to hear “no” and move on as an answer. Are you trying to move to be closer to your long-term boyfriend? Would you like him to consider moving to be closer to you? Do you want to continue dating other people in your own city until you can live closer? Are they okay with not being exclusive?
Of course, I don’t recommend dumping someone you have really strong feelings for to date someone you don’t like, no matter how stable the guy’s job is or how reliable his crush is. You’ve been through a lot in the past year, and I don’t think you should rush into anything right now. Just be honest and sincere about what you want, how you feel, and what you’re available for. If that means breaking up with Tattoo Guy and Tattoo-Free Guy and getting back on the dating market, great! (Sad, sure, but also great.) But you don’t have to make a one-off decision like you’re on a dating show and have to choose between two suitors in the next five minutes. —Danny M. Lavery
From: “Help! I can’t decide which of the guys I date is a better investment.‘” (September 5, 2019)
My 14 year old son recently came across some Polaroids of me that his dad took of me when we were 14 – we’ve been together for a long time and got married when I was pregnant with my son. The pictures were in an old shoebox filled with baseball cards and other teenage memorabilia. The problem is that the pictures are nude shots! You can’t really tell that the pictures are of me, as my appearance has changed dramatically since I was 14 – hair color change, weight difference, breasts, etc. My son came to me very concerned because his father was potentially hoarding teen porn. I didn’t tell him directly that the pictures were of me, but I assured him that his father doesn’t watch or have teen porn and that I would talk to him. But should I be more direct? Which is worse, thinking your dad made child porn or knowing you just saw a 14-year-old version of your mom naked?
Ah, the good old memory box— triggered a million reassessments of his parents as sexual beings. You are between a rock and a hard place here. You can choose to have your son think his dad is a criminal pervert or discover how hot mom was when she was 14, just like him! Arghhhh. (I’ll leave aside the fact that today if two 14 year old boys – and me, you two were precocious – took dirty pictures of each other, they could both be on the sex offenders’ list for life.) Since your son is concerned about child pornography, I think you should tell him. the truth. Take a picture of yourself, dressed up, at 14 years old. Place it next to the dirty picture and put a Post-it note on her naked body with her head exposed. Then show both to your son and explain that he has discovered ancient history about his mother and father and that there is nothing to worry about. Make sure all naughty photos go somewhere safe and out of reach – and I don’t mean your underwear drawer. —Emily Yoffe
From: “Help! My son found nude photos of me as a teenager.” (April 28, 2015)
My husband and I have been married for five years. We don’t have children because we couldn’t get pregnant, even with the help of fertility treatments. We set up an agency to adopt, but it was also a long and emotional process that included a match with a birth mother who ended up breaking the match because her mother didn’t love us.
Now that my husband’s sister-in-law has given birth, she is more desperate than ever to start our family. She recently told me that she is “embarrassed” by the fact that we are almost 35 and childless, and blames it squarely on me that “I can’t have children.” The truth is that even though I was diagnosed with a hormonal disorder, it was not proven to be the reason we didn’t get pregnant. However, I am ashamed and hurt by these comments. I’m afraid I might lose my husband because of this. What should I do?
Party counseling, go to a party counselor yesterday. I know dealing with infertility can put a strain on any relationship, and in almost every marriage, both parties will eventually (and inevitably) say cruel and hurtful things to each other, but you interpret infertility as some kind of biological failure. Misapportionment is cruel, needlessly divisive, and ultimately unproductive. Be honest with your husband about how hurtful and unloving his words were. Make it clear that he can’t talk to you like that, especially if the two of you are planning to adopt and raise a child together – this cannot be modeling familial affection for a young child. If he doesn’t see the weight of his words and refuses to apologize and mend his ways, then it’s time to consider breaking up with him, but I hope he comes to his senses and tries to make things right. before it’s too late. —DL
From: “Help! My husband is embarrassed by our infertility.” (January 9, 2018)
My 40 year old husband has ED. The treatment is effective, but he still bought me a vibrator. As always, you’ve found a highly recommended green, BPA-free, rechargeable in a beautiful case. The damn thing is so loud and loud it annoys me; I don’t claim it, but it’s like a kid with a new toy. My question is how to avoid him without avoiding him because I love him so much. The vibrator, not so much.
I wonder if this vibrator is what you are complaining about or vibrators in general. If it’s the former, you can tell your well-meaning husband that while you appreciate his thoughtfulness, you’d rather choose your own sex toy. (It seems fair that if it’s into you, you have the final say in its design, and there are plenty of gentle, non-buzzing vibrators on the market.) If it’s the latter, you should have a little more in-depth conversation about your preferences. If you want him to move you in a different way when ED makes penetrative sex difficult, tell him. He sounds eager to please; I have no doubt that he will happily follow the method you prefer to that little green bugger. —DL
From: “Help! My grown son lives at home but pretends we don’t exist.” (January 12, 2016)
More advice from Dear Prudence
I got out of a long-term relationship a few months ago and am starting to get back into dating. Currently not looking for anything serious, just casual dating. My problem is that my ex once told me in an intimate moment and out of frustration that I’m just “okay, not great” in bed.