Dear Prudence

“I Waited, Why Couldn’t She?’

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Dear Prudence,
I’m in my late 20s, and by choice I decided to remain a virgin until I got married. During and after college, I’ve had opportunities to sleep with women but declined because I felt so strongly about my values. For the past 18 months, I’ve been dating a wonderful woman, and we’ve talked seriously about marriage. We haven’t had sex because I wanted to wait until we are married. I love her in every way, but the only hang-up I seem to have is that she slept with her boyfriend when she was in college. I get extremely jealous and angry whenever I think about it because I feel that since I waited, why couldn’t she? She assures me, and I completely believe her, when she says she’s devoted only to me and that her past relationship means absolutely nothing. Obviously, my reaction to her past sexual experience is ridiculous, but I can’t help but feel in some way cheated or betrayed. Is this a normal reaction for virgins in this situation, and how do I get over it?

—Jealous Virgin

Dear Jeal,
First, let Prudie remind you that you are in a rather exclusive club (re the virginity, not the jealousy). For this reason, you must be more understanding about what is the sexual norm these days, though your choice is admirable. It is not rational or fair to ask why this girl couldn’t remain a virgin if you could. (The reason being that she never made the same pledge you did.) Your displeasure at her previous experience is analogous to expecting someone to play by your rules when that person doesn’t know what your rules are. You’ve been neither cheated nor betrayed, my friend, and if you can’t accept this, by all means book a session or two with a therapist or clergyman who will help you work through it. As for “normal reactions for virgins,” there is simply no way to answer you, seeing as how Prudie knows so few virgins. Well … none, actually, come to think of it.

—Prudie, forwardly

Dear Prudence,
I have recently discovered that my husband has been talking to women on his cell phone. I found out about it by looking at his cell phone bill. He admitted that he talked, a couple of times, to a woman he’d met while out with the guys one evening. He told me that talking to her on the phone twice was the extent of the “relationship.” I forgave him, and he promised he would never do it again. Well, just the other day I noticed a strange number on his cell phone bill again. It was the number of a girl he used to work with. I have heard him speak of her, but I have never met her. When I confronted him, he said that he was calling her regarding a car we were selling and she was possibly interested in buying. He made the call at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening when he was supposedly at a soccer game with his friends. What do you think?

—Feeling Like a Fool

Dear Feel,
What does Prudie think? Prudie thinks your guy is on the prowl and will find new ways to advance his search. And because he now knows you are wise to the cell phone bills, he might become even more creative. Prudie knows one man who, to facilitate a social life on the side, had business cards printed with a made-up name and a phone number which, of course, did not ring at home. Some people think that when you constantly have to check up on a mate, he may not be worth having.

—Prudie, apprehensively

Dear Prudence,
I’m writing to you regarding an incident that happened at my workplace today. I’m the summer receptionist for a 25-person office. I’m 19 years old and a full-time university student during the year. I live on my own and am financially independent. Today, I went to a local cafe and picked up a muffin for lunch, which I brought back to the office to eat at my desk. The executive assistant to the company president, who’s in her late 30s and has a couple of children, stopped by my desk and proceeded to make comments such as, “Oh, why are you eating THAT? You know, a bagel would be so much better for you … that’s SO fattening!” As she was walking away, she said, “Tomorrow you’ll eat a little better, right?” I realize that she had my best interests at heart with her comments, but I feel that it’s my right to make my own choices as to what I eat and that her unsolicited comments are highly inappropriate. I’m not heavy by any means, and I don’t have a lot of money for food; a muffin is caloric but inexpensive. What would be the best way to respond to this sort of thing? I have no desire to make trouble, but I was quite offended by her comment.

One Mother Is Plenty

Dear One,
Agreed: Unsolicited advice is annoying … which is why Prudie is so very flattered that all of you write to ask for guidance, saving her the trouble of hunting you all down in order to tell you what to do! But back to the bagel pusher. This woman is a type we know all too well … body by Nautilus, brain by Mattel. Should this happen again and you find yourself thinking, “Who asked you?” simply say something like, “I’ll remember that.” Then give her a big smile. And bagels, by the way, are thought by many nutritionists not to be a particularly good choice.

—Prudie, dismissively

OK, there is this guy. OK, and we are like in love totally, but when my mom and his mom found out we had sex together, we were not allowed to see or talk to each other anymore. Period. Never. We are in love, and we wanted to run away, but we couldn’t. So do I just ignore my mom and sneek [sic] calls to him or what??

—Lost Again

Dear Lost,
Please, please start paying attention in school and listening to your mother—or you will really be lost. Prudie can tell from your letter that you need an education now more urgently than you need sex. Trust Prudie, you do not want to be one of those people who spends a long time staring at an orange juice can because it says “concentrate.”

—Prudie, imploringly