Dear Prudence

Secret Urges

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Dear Prudence,
I would like to have some intense sexual relationships without divulging any personal information. Is this even possible, assuming I can attract the men? What should I say about this secretiveness—since I tend to be absolutely truthful and open by nature?

—Uncomfortable Fox

Dear Un,
Prudie is not sure what you mean by “personal information.” Your name? You might, more profitably, go to a group where the first thing you say is your name … as in, “Hi, my name’s—.” Clearly, you should seek a professional’s help to figure out where your urge comes from. There is, as you seem to be aware, a disconnect between what you say is your normal personality and your wish for anonymous sex. It is nowhere near healthy to be plotting how to proposition a guy with a line like, “I’m not going to tell you who I am, where I work, where I live, or anything else.” This would be dangerously close to being a sex industry worker. Please try to deal with this.

—Prudie, definitely

Dear Prudence,
I am writing to ask your advice about the following: I was married for 16 years to a very difficult man. Eleven years ago, I ended my marriage and managed to have it annulled. Since then, I have raised my son and daughter on my own. Now they are grown, and my son has recently moved out to live on his own. My daughter was married last year and has a wonderful husband, and they are expecting their first child, my first grandchild. My ex-husband has been living with a woman for six years. My question is this: Should my daughter give the title of “Grandma” to this woman? I feel that since I am her mother and my daughter was not even raised by this woman that I should be referred to as the baby’s grandmother. Thanks very much.

—Doubting Dignities

Dear Doubt,
But you are the baby’s grandmother. The only other one is your son-in-law’s mother. The woman you are writing about, relative to your daughter, is Dad’s live-in girlfriend. This of course is not a name for a child to use, but a suitable appellation will reveal itself. A little suggestion: Try to squelch any competitive feelings you have with this woman. If your daughter has any relationship with her father, Dad’s live-in girlfriend will also be in the picture.

—Prudie, generously

Dear Prudie,
I hope you won’t think ill of me, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to do something that is kind of mean. A relative I REALLY am not fond of is having a birthday next month. While I must get her a gift, I hate doing it. What I want to do is have the secret fun of getting something that won’t thrill her, but I can’t think of what that might be. I know your job is to solve problems, not dream up evil things to do, but maybe this once?

—Sister-in-law in Bellevue

Dear Sis,
Well … maybe this once. Without giving approval, Prudie will tell you what a friend in a similar situation does: Every year she picks out a piece of clothing that is unbecoming and one size too small. If the stars are in alignment, it will be on sale, preventing a return. A small caution: Your fun may not be so secret.

—Prudie, covertly

Dear Prudie,
You recently answered a letter that began, “What do you advise a group of friends at the end of their ropes to do about a pal who is dating a JERK?” with, “You may, however, politely decline to listen to any more agony recitals.” A friend of mine has a quick and effective way to close off that line of conversation. I will share it with you: After hearing the same complaint from a friend or associate for the third or fourth time, he asks, “What are you going to do about it?” Most of his interlocutors are startled because they have no intention of taking responsibility for their situation and actually doing something to change it. Almost every time they quickly end the conversation and don’t raise the subject with him again. A few people, once they get up from the ground and dust themselves off, experience an epiphany and actually do something. Either way works well for my friend.


Dear Ra,
Brilliant! On behalf of all those on the receiving end of oft-repeated complaints, Prudie thanks you for this first-rate suggestion and hopes everyone will give it a try.

—Prudie, appreciatively