Dear Prudence

Irreconcilable Differences

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Dear Prudie,

My roommate and I have a situation that has come to a head. We have been friends for years and roommates for the last year. For the most part, we get along fine and rarely have issues. The problem that has arisen is that I’ve started dating again, a year or so after my last relationship. She dates and has men over for dinner from time to time, but they never spend the night. Last week I mentioned having a woman I have dated a few times over for dinner, and she told me that was “out of the question.” She tells me she is uneasy with women she does not know being at the apartment and that I should be spending time at “her place.” When I asked why it was OK for her to have men over, she just said, “That’s different.” Before we decided to be roomies, we agreed to have dates not sleep over. I was fine with that and still am. I have tried to get this normally reasonable person to understand that it looks fishy, when I am flipping half the rent, that I cannot have a woman over for dinner. I am not going to forgo a personal life, but we have just re-signed the lease. My gut tells me she has feelings for me beyond a roomie and wants to keep potential girlfriends away. She flatly denies any feelings. My gut still tells me I am right. What is good for the hen is not good for the rooster. Do I suck it up for the duration of the lease, or do I try another angle? No one is going to run my personal life except me.

—No Room To Move

Dear No,

Well, as of right now, the roomie IS running your personal life. And rather arbitrarily, at that. You might point out to her that no neutral intermediary would agree with her “rule”; plus, if you’re both in for half the rent, one person does not get to unilaterally make a rule. (You agreed to no overnight guests, for example, but not about dinner guests being of only one gender.) You could also tell her she is being ridiculously unreasonable and that you’re going to find a place of your own. If she is trying to become more than your roomie, she is going about it in quite the wrong way because as things look to Prudie, the friendship is rapidly becoming frayed.

—Prudie, equitably

Dear Prudence,

I’m a male teenager, and my fiftysomething dad is going through a midlife crisis right now. That I can deal with. What I can’t deal with is the fact that he has a “crush” on a female friend of mine. What can I do to try to get him over this??


Dear Des,

How revolting. But it’s wonderful of you to be willing to deal with the old boy’s midlife crisis. As for the young object of his affections, two mechanistic approaches are available to you: 1) Don’t entertain her at your house, where the old letch gets to spend time with her; or 2) you might point out to him that with his crush being so obvious, he is only embarrassing himself. And try to remember that, like adolescence, these phases pass, and the guys grow up. Again.

—Prudie, sympathetically

Dear Prudence,

I recently started dating a girl I have been fond of for over four years now, at the urging of a few mutual friends. We used to go to the same high school; however, she now lives over an hour away, and we rarely see one another. She, along with our families (especially mine), is thrilled that we’re “finally together,” and they are already talking about marriage, making this relationship seem incredibly final to me—a daunting idea for a college freshman. I’m not ready to meet such high expectations with her, but that’s not to say I won’t be in the future. How can I get out of this for the moment without burning any bridges?

—Not Ready To Be a Husband

Dear Not,

Prudie assumes your asking how you can “get out” refers to getting out from under the badgering of your marriage-minded family … not how to stop seeing the young lady, unless, of course, she is part of the chorus humming “Here Comes the Bride.” Simply tell whoever is silly enough to mention marriage that you are 18 and you have many things to do before you walk down the aisle. Do bear in mind, however, that your family’s exuberance may just be their way of showing wild approval. And calm yourself, because no one is going to make you get married.

—Prudie, reasonably

Dear Prudie,

I have been dating this guy for what is going to be six years this spring. We have discussed marriage, but he’s said he wanted to have a full-time job, a house, and a car before we got married. Now that he has all these things, his answer is, “I never said I will not marry you; I will, but don’t pressure me.” I am at the point where I am not sure what to do anymore. He is not that good with my kid, and I feel I have given him enough of my time. I love him very much and will be hurt, but I don’t exactly know what he is doing.

—Lady in Waiting

Dear Lady,

The thing he is doing is called stalling, dear. If he set out three goals, which he has now achieved, and is not following through, he is quite clearly not inclined to keep his promise. And the “don’t pressure me” business is a bad sign, as well. Add to this the fact that he’s not good with your child, and the bottom line for you is to call his bluff. Tell him you’re through pressuring him, and, in fact, you are calling the whole thing off. Whether it’s the fear factor or a lack of commitment, his current behavior does not augur well for the future.

—Prudie, decidedly