Dear Prudence

Meet Mr. Nobody

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Dear Prudence,
I am in a real jam. I have been diagnosed with a mild social phobia and don’t go out much. Most of the people I know are from online communities. This doesn’t bother me much, as I feel I am still able to socialize. The problem is that when I moved away from my family in Kentucky, I was expected to be the one who “makes it big.” Because of this, I have inflated my social standing and lifestyle to my friends and family back home. I told them I was doing a lot of stage work and making a name for myself. My biggest lie, though, was that I told them I was engaged. Now my sister’s wedding is coming up, and I don’t know what to do. I already made up excuses at Christmas and Thanksgiving about why he could not come home with me. My whole family is expecting to meet him at the wedding, and I have run out of excuses. I want to come clean, but I know how foolish I would look. I do not want to continue the lie by saying we broke up. I am under such strain just thinking about this. What is the best way to tell them I am really not engaged or successful?


Dear An,
Fess up with as little varnish as possible. Tell the folks in your old Kentucky home, flat out, that you passed along glowing reports because, mistakenly or not, you thought that’s what was expected. Tell the family your imaginary life is over, and any future reports will be about what is actually going on. Whether or not they overdid the expectation number is now moot. The fact that you are not a stage star or engaged to “John” does not mean you are failed. Prudie expects you will feel greatly relieved when you straighten out this rather tangled situation.

—Prudie, truthfully

Dear Prudence,
This is in response to the letter from ”Hiding the Truth“—the woman who has been with a married (but legally separated, ha) man for three years and is feeling guilty because she slept with another man when her main squeeze decided to go back to wifey for a day! I think you missed an essential point in your answer to this woman: WHY IS SHE STILL WITH THE MARRIED MAN? It’s been three years, and he’s still only “legally separated”? Why isn’t he divorced yet? He obviously still has ambivalent feelings about being separated from his wife, hence the reconciliation attempt (once again, after THREE YEARS). “Hiding” will never be the only one in this man’s heart and is selling herself short. She should get some professional counseling to take a hard look at why she is still with this man or at the very least confront him on his lack of a divorce. The path she’s on now is only going to lead to more pain. So, “Hiding,” take back control of your life—this guy doesn’t deserve your consideration!

—Therapist Who’s Seen It All Before

Dear Ther,
Thank you for being a guest Prudie. There was a great deal of booing about Prudie’s answer. The gist of all the letters was that this woman wasn’t even cheating because the guy had left her to try it again with his wife! For whatever reason, Prudie viscerally took a male chauvinist view of the situation … when, in actuality, the woman didn’t owe this bird a thing. Let us just say that, if not exactly out to lunch, Prudie was certainly taking a coffee break and regrets her previous advice.

—Prudie, correctively

Dear Prudie,
I have a problem. From the time my husband was my boyfriend, his mother always had it in for me. She used to tell me unflattering things about him that were way different from what I was perceiving. Well, that didn’t work, and we got married. On our wedding day she didn’t show until the reception, then took him aside and said, “They found a lump. …” She didn’t go on, but said, “Don’t worry about me. This is your day.” This was only the beginning. So many more things have happened. She often tells me one thing, then tells my husband another. I have tried to stay away from this situation, but the situation follows me. My husband understands exactly what is going on with her, yet it still causes tension between us. What do I do?


Dear Ag,
Your mother-in-law’s performance at your wedding sounds like it was scripted by Mel Brooks. Prudie is surprised she didn’t bring a portable oven and put her head in it. The woman clearly doesn’t want you, or anybody else, attached to her son. She would like to be the woman in his life and is possessive in a wildly neurotic way. That said, to ease, if not eliminate the tension between you and your spouse, two things probably need to happen. Stop discussing or complaining about the old bat’s destructive behavior. One could consider this ignoring her, at least as far as your husband is concerned. Then make an appointment with a counselor who will offer (we hope) some expert interpretation of the mother situation in a way that will clarify things for your husband. You have Prudie’s sympathies.

—Prudie, empathetically

Dear Prudence,

My fiance and I have been butting heads for quite some time now about the way I dress. We had a blowout some time ago about this. He says I dress like I’m trying to pick someone up, which threw me for a loop because I usually wear jeans and a T-shirt. He had a problem with my padded push-up bra that I wore daily. My breasts are small, and that made me feel better about myself, but I caved and quit wearing the bra to make him happy. He thought that I only wore it to get attention. Now the issue is my jeans. He says they are too tight, and I say they fit. They are not grotesquely tight where everything bulges out or is pushing at the seams. I think he’s trying to be controlling and is even a bit insecure. We are at an impasse, and I am wondering if this is the man I should marry. I love him very much, but I don’t know if I should I give in and wear baggy jeans, etc., or should I stand my ground and dress the way I like?

—Denim Blues

Dear Den,
This situation is about more than your bra and your jeans. Prudie thinks you are correct about this chap’s control-freakery and insecurity. It would be a different story if you were falling out of your blouses and bulging out of your jeans. It sounds like your clothes fit but that you and the boyfriend do not. Underneath his carping about provocative dress is a jealous and irrational partner. You do not need this, and the situation will only intensify with time. If there is no way to get him to understand and deal with his problem, break it off sooner rather than later.

—Prudie, rationally