Dear Prudence

Sexual Disorientation

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Dear Prudie,
I just had to weigh in about the letter from “Suffering Sperm Donor.” Getting laid is the least of the poor sap’s problems. He’s on the hook for child support. After my wife of 25 years and three grown children divorced me, I got a vasectomy
toute suite. Had my children been younger, California’s statutory child support law would have put me in the poor house. Also, my wife had money, so I walked away scot-free financially with my house and an ample stock portfolio. In any event, the last thing I want is to join the Aged Fathers Club just founded by Jesse Jackson and Michael Douglas. What were these guys thinking when they went bareback? I’m sure it wasn’t PTA meetings, school conferences, homework, new math, birthday parties, and weekend soccer until aged 75.

—Regards from,
Mr. EX-Sperm Donor

Dear Mr.,
Feel better now? Prudie rejoices with you that you have skated away from PTA meetings and new math, but you sound somewhat overinvolved with the financial aspects of parenthood. Prudie does agree with you, though, about old geezers as new dads. These guys do seem to swan around acting as though a delivery from the stork—arriving right before the social security check—makes them seem virile and irresistible. Sometimes, alas, it just makes them seem rich and delusional. Just FYI, the Messrs. Jackson and Douglas are by no means the founders of this “club.”

—Prudie, parentally

Dear Prudence,
This is in reference to a subject that appears in your column somewhat frequently: When is it OK to cheat? I have been married for 11 years. It is the first marriage for both of us. I was a virgin when we married. I saved myself for him, and ever since Day 1 he has avoided sex at all costs. He’s not impotent or physically handicapped, he just isn’t very interested and says there is more to a relationship than sex. We have gone to marriage counseling, read books, fought, cried, and tried to ignore the situation, but nothing ever changes. I have strong moral values but am reaching the end of my sanity-rope with this. Would a romance on the side be reasonable? P.S.: We have had sex before, but on the average of once or twice a year. Our latest record: It’s been two-and-a-half years since the last time.

No Name

Dear Ob,
You have Prudie’s condolences on your moribund marriage. To say this man “isn’t very interested” earns you this year’s trophy for understatement. Of course there is more to a relationship than sex, but a marriage without it—unless by mutual agreement—is like birthday cake without frosting. Or candles. If the bedroom is important to you—and it must be, or Prudie would not have heard from you—you need to evaluate your life and your emotions. It would be a safe bet that this man is withholding in other ways, as well. Prudie wonders why he is married if your life together consists of celibacy, counseling, how-to books, and tears. (Do you think he promised his rich Uncle Elmer that he would marry in order to inherit?) Prudie suggests you leap right over the afternoon-friend idea and go straight to a lawyer. It is possible that you could receive an annulment. You are not going to get this man to see things your way, and it’s a good bet that he is homosexual—repressed or not—or deeply uninterested in sex. Either way, this is not the life you signed up for.

—Prudie, liberatedly

Dear Prudence,
I am a 23-year-old married woman. My husband and I have been married for two years, and have “been together” for six. We are very much in love and have been from the beginning. We moved in together two weeks after we started dating and we never fight. We do have a problem, though, that we have discussed and need some advice on. It’s really all my fault and he is very sensitive about it: It’s my libido. I don’t have any!!! I know a lot of women have this problem, but I can never find out what they do about it. My husband has tried everything. He’s so sweet. Is there something I can take? Is there anything I can do? Do you have any suggestions?


Dear Sex,
Have I got a guy for you! (See above.) Forgive the joke, now Prudie will get serious. Some nonresponsive women have had a Catholic-school education, and the nuns’ voices are still in their heads. Another version of this is having had a parent with the really loony attitude that sex is sinful. Other women who experience low libido are overworked and exhausted “achiever” types. An instinctive guess would be that you do not fit into these categories. Prudie’s favorite therapist, Dr. Shari Thurer, says she recommends to women who come to her with this problem that they watch what she calls orgasm-positive video … whether it’s Sex and the City or erotic adult fare. In other words, she believes behavioral treatment is best for this problem … with perhaps a bit of wine and seduction/flattery from one’s partner. You might also want to consider a sexual impairment clinic, which usually sees both members of the couple. Some drugs are now in the trial stage (à la Viagra). The good news is that you and your husband both want to work this out, and how lovely that he is sweet about it. Prudie feels sure you will succeed.

—Prudie, encouragingly

My boss has recently begun calling me by a nickname, and it’s driving me crazy. Every time she uses it I cringe. The nickname, by the way, is a shortened version of my own name (not like Joe for Joseph but rather like “Mare” for Mary). I have always disliked it when people called me by that name, and since I don’t like my boss I am further annoyed at her attempt to personalize our relationship. We have had a tense situation in this office because she treats us like little kids. (Imagine having a kindergarten teacher as your boss … a bad kindergarten teacher … complete with perky voice, but a bit of Linda Blair behind it because we all hear her cursing people behind their backs.) She keeps track of every minute we are late (without keeping track of any minute we work overtime or during lunch break). We have approached one of her bosses to make it known we don’t like being treated like this, and she knows it, so I think she is trying to make the office look a lot friendlier than it is. How can I approach this? I don’t want to sound angry. Should I just grit my teeth and let it go?

—Frustrated and Irritated

Dear Frus,
Regarding the nickname problem, which sounds like the least of it, it is perfectly proper to tell this woman, civilly, that your preferred form of address is your name, not something she has dreamed up. Were Prudie in your shoes, she would do her job to the best of her ability while letting this woman’s superior know that the atmosphere in the office is not collegial, and therefore probably less productive than it might be. If this closet Linda Blair person is not moved out, you might look around, if at all possible, for a comparable job with an office ambiance more to your liking.

—Prudie, laboriously