Dear Prudence

Fear of Height

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Dear Prudence,

I have been reading you, and most of the time it is with amusement. Now I find myself in a quandary, so I thought I would see if you could help me. Most of the answers to your readers’ problems are pretty dead-on to what I would say, so please read this and (hopefully) give me a spot of sunshine. I have three roommates—all guys. This means I am the only chick in our household. The problem is that they are terrible slobs. I don’t want to add to the old cliché about how all guys are slobs, but there is obviously something to that. I am tired of being the one to motivate them to clean up—and then it’s the bare minimum. Grrr. I went on strike, and as a result, the apartment hasn’t been cleaned in two weeks. I am their friend, not their mommy. (I have told them this, but nothing has changed.) This is the only snag in our friendships and I’m at my wit’s end.


Wit’s End

Dear Wit,

It’s simple, cupcake. Your choices are well defined. 1) Insist they hire a maid, because that’s not what you are. 2) Stay there without a maid, and without nagging, if you can ignore the pigsty aspects of the situation. 3) Find a new living situation. Prudie agrees with you that this isn’t a guy thing … and, in fact, has had many letters from girls complaining about their same-sex roomies. It’s your call, and you do have options.

—Prudie, tidily

Dear Prudie,

What can I do to get guys to approach me? I’m nearly 5 feet 11 inches tall, and my male friends tell me I am intimidating. I carry myself with confidence and smile frequently. At times I am shy, but usually outgoing—but either way, guys seem to fear me. I often hear that a certain guy was attracted to me but was too scared. I’ve tried being the pursuer, but when I ask them out, it only seems to make me more intimidating. The only dates I’ve had in the past year were fix-ups, and they get old fast. Any suggestions?

—Tall and Lonely

Dear Tall,

You need a short, rich businessman. They seem to like women taller than themselves. (Only kidding … although the statement is often true). Prudie guesses you are youngish, and if this is correct, there’s always the chance that the boys in your crowd will have growth spurts and catch up. Many stunning girls are tall and are social stars. Your use of the words “intimidating” and “fear” suggests that you might need to be more casual. Try to feel positively about your height and just be yourself. Get rid of the thought that you scare people. Hang loose. Your prince will come.

—Prudie, positively

Dear Prudence,

I just stumbled on your column and have been reading it ever since. I like the down-to-earth no-nonsense advice you give and am wondering if you could help me? I am totally in love with a co-worker of mine. We have been working together for about a year now, and I get so many mixed signals from him. He will brush against me, stare at me, and constantly ask me for advice on what I consider private issues—like where he should go for an eye appointment, what kind of insulation should he use in his house, etc. Here’s the sticky part: He is currently involved in one of those “comfort relationships.” I have asked him, on occasion, if he plans on marrying or continuing the relationship with his current girlfriend, and he always answers with an emphatic, “NO WAY! Just waiting for someone better to come along.” How should I handle this, and should I make a move?

—Overworked and Underloved

Dear Over,

Prudie hates to tell you this, but you have already made your move. His remark about “waiting for someone better to come along” is his idea of a veiled response, or perhaps an unconscious one that that someone is not you. It is also possible that his “comfort relationship” is a legally binding one. He would not be the first jerk to try to get something going at the office while pretending to be single. As for the brushing against you and staring, make yourself scarce. This guy sounds like a flirt and bad news. And where Prudie comes from, suggestions about insulation do not constitute “private issues.” If he asks again, tell him you know it shouldn’t be asbestos.

—Prudie, retreatingly

Dear Prudence,

You always know what to say (or not to say) in so many situations that I thought I should write you about mine. I have a co-worker who, for some reason, has got a bee in her bonnet about me. I have no idea why … I just recently started this job. During the course of a regular workday I have no problem ignoring her rude comments and behavior. Unfortunately, however, in the near future I am scheduled to attend a two-day technical conference with her, during which we will be required to interact on a detailed project. I am prepared to ignore her rudeness, but Prudence, if you could offer anything I might say to proactively make these two days more comfortable, I would be very thankful.

—Filled With Foreboding

Dear Fill,

Thank you for you vote of confidence, and welcome to what seems to be Troubles With Co-workers Day. Prudie’s best suggestion in this situation would not be some snappy remark, but a little talk off in the corner. Approach her and be direct: Say you have picked up on her hostility, and you would hope to create a comfortable working relationship. Ask, directly, where her difficulty with you comes from. Make it plain you would like to correct any misunderstandings. If she gives you a non-answer, that is, says nothing helpful, you will know she has a free-floating hostility to you about which you can do nothing. If that’s the case, tune her out and behave professionally. If she is simply a prickly, unhappy woman, chances are that she will cross swords with someone who has the authority to move her out of there.

—Prudie, pragmatically