Dear Prudence

I’m OK, Euro K

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Dear Prudence,

I’m a grad student at a large research university in the Midwest. A cutie from Germany–also a grad student, in another department–caught my eye this past year, and I am positively smitten. Although I’ve made my affections for her very clear, she has turned me down for dates because she prefers the company of her “Euroclique,” a group of grad students also from “The Continent.” Frankly, I find most of them annoying and downright dorky. Thus, it seems clear that my Midwestern roots turn her off. What can I do to win this girl’s affections?


Dear R.,

Tell her your grandfather was Kaiser Wilhelm? Only kidding. As a fellow Midwesterner, Prudie feels special kinship with you. The thing you must do in a situation like this is accept that people’s attractions are hardwired. (Have you noticed how often the second spouse resembles the first?) There is a slim chance that this young woman is just not interested in you (with no consideration of nationality involved) and is trying to let you down gently. Prudie’s rule is an old retailing maxim: Your first markdown is your cheapest. Do not wait around for this girl to change her mind. Just accept things as they are and cast your eye elsewhere. Prudie bets you a euro you will find another woman about whom you will be smitten.

–Prudie, romantically

Dear Prudence,

I was raised in a family where we were never big gift-givers. On special days we each give a meaningful gift and mainly focus on having a nice meal or an outing together. My husband’s family, on the other hand, sees Christmas and birthdays as occasions for major asset transfers. In other words, they are more into dollar value than my family. (My dear husband was horrified last Christmas with my family when all he got was a shirt and tie.) I worry that my husband’s family does not see our carefully chosen gifts as the sincere expression of love and affection that they are. Sometimes I feel trapped in a Polynesian cycle of humiliation by gift giving. Any tips?

–Yours humbly,


Dear Daughter,

You obviously march to a different drummer than your husband … one who is not high-stepping through Neiman Marcus. The first thing is for you and your spouse to agree on an underlying philosophy of gift giving. The ideal, Prudie thinks, is choosing a gift with some real thought behind it that does not break the bank. Since your husband is used to lavish gifts, the two of you should probably make a budget for presents. It really is the thought that counts, and Prudie hopes your in-laws will come to appreciate your thoughtful choices.

–Prudie, selectively

Dear Prudie,

I am 25 years old and have a wonderful boyfriend who is thoughtful, kind, understanding, etc. I have nothing bad to say about him (here it comes), but I don’t feel a real connection to him. If I look at him from a logical standpoint, he would be a perfect person with whom to spend the rest of my life. I am physically attracted to him, and I care for him deeply, but I just feel there is something missing. I think all this has been exacerbated by the fact that I recently had a conversation with a stranger to whom I felt more drawn than I do to my own man. (Nothing happened … just great conversation and what I felt was a real connection.) We’ve only been going out five months, so maybe I should give it more time. I don’t want to throw away something very good just because of some need that may be foolish whim. Help!

–Hopelessly Confused

Dear Hope,

Love is not logical, so forget that. You may, however, have Immature Woman Syndrome intensified by The Handsome Stranger Phenomenon. Sometimes an inexperienced woman–a young one–will be turned off when a guy is too nice. And sometimes it’s just not the right guy. As you point out correctly, five months is not enough time to give you the answer. Your need for connection is not a foolish whim. Just because you can’t put your finger on what’s missing doesn’t mean it’s not missing. On the other hand, for many people real caring along with physical attraction makes for a pretty pleasing situation. Prudie suggests, without chucking your current relationship, you try to arrange another encounter with the Handsome Stranger to see what happens a second time. (Assuming, of course, you didn’t meet him on the subway and have no inkling of how to find him again.) Life is choices, and Prudie hopes you make a good one.

–Prudie, thoughtfully

Dear Prudie,

A friend of mine from high school is getting married in the fall and has asked me and some other women in our circle to be bridesmaids. Financially we are all OK, but by no means rich. Her parents and her fiance’s parents are footing the bill for a very elaborate wedding and a honeymoon to Europe. Her dress costs around $2,000, to give you an idea. The bridesmaid dresses she has picked out are $400, which we are supposed to buy ourselves, plus shoes, plus special undergarments. So it’s basically about $500 that she is asking each of us to spend. Is it rude of her to expect us to do this? It seems so to us. But … we feel like we can’t really say “no” to being her bridesmaids, either. How should we handle the situation? Can we ask her to have her dad pay for a portion of the dresses so it’s not a financial hardship for us?



Dear Dis,

Prudie is a long way from her bridesmaid days, but interestingly enough, your dilemma was faced by someone on whose birth certificate Prudie’s name just happens to be. The numbers involved in that situation were roughly double the ones you mention. What happened there was that the bride’s dad paid half of each of the girls’ dresses. Afterward, however, one of the bridesmaids was so annoyed by the costly selections that it ruined her friendship with the bride. Prudie believes that if a family of means picks attendants’ dresses that are out of the normal price range, they should foot the bill. (For some unknown reason, bridesmaids’ dresses are often worn only once … maybe because they are usually ugly. This is just one of life’s little oddities.) As for your question about whether or not the bride is rude in asking you all to shell out hundreds of dollars, she is not rude, simply thoughtless. Because your letter indicates that all you girls have the same views about the expense, one of you should speak to the bride on behalf of all the bridesmaids and say that her selection is a little steep for everyone and perhaps her dad might pay for half. Prudie guesses she will say yes.

–Prudie, hopefully