Dear Prudence

The Morning After

Does divorce scare off a good man?

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Dear Prudence,

A few months ago, I met a man and we hit it off immediately—great conversation, lots of fun. We enjoyed each other’s company immensely. I am newly single and going through a divorce—so I am not looking for a serious relationship, just someone to spend time with and date. Several weeks went by before I saw this man again. But when we did finally get together, we ended up drinking a lot, slept together, and he stayed over at my place. Not once did I regret this spontaneous night; I really liked him and thought he felt the same for me. He called the next day, and we decided to have dinner the next weekend. We had a great time at dinner. I decided to tell him about my divorce situation because I am in my early 20s, and most people don’t assume people my age are divorced. He told me he was not bothered by this information, thanked me for telling him, and said he still wanted to see me. The night continued to go smoothly. Once again, we slept together. It has been over two weeks, and I have not heard from him. Was this man using me for sex, or was he really bothered by the marriage thing and decided to blow me off without saying anything? I have called once and left a message just saying hello. I really want to call him to ask what is going on, but all my friends say not to call. Was the connection I felt just an act?

—Confused in the City

Dear Con,

Prudie’s hunch is that he was not using you. What most likely happened was that he did not know at the time you told him of the divorce-in-progress that it bothered him. Later on, it did. Do yourself a favor: Don’t call. People usually do what they want, whether or not they can give you a reason. There is a slim chance that he may reappear, but don’t count on it.

—Prudie, realistically

Dear, dear Prudie,

I have the sort of problem I’d usually ask my mother about. Unfortunately, my mother’s the problem. My older sister, like my parents, lives in the small town where we grew up; she went to our local state school, married just after graduation, became a teacher, and gave birth to three kids. I went to an Ivy, moved to New York City, and took a high-powered banking job. My mother is much more like my sister and never had a career of her own. I got married two months ago, and I think my mother may be trying to identify with me in my new, happily wed incarnation. Alas, this means she has become hopelessly retro. She has, unsolicited, sent me cleaning products and told me I have to scrub the entire house down, without my husband’s help, so I can “impress” my in-laws when they visit. She insists on addressing letters and packages to me as “Mrs. HisLastName,” although she knows very well I haven’t changed my name. And apparently—no joke—she has listened to the recording of our wedding every single day for the last two months! Prudie, what has happened to my formerly reasonable mother? Will this ever stop?

—Mrs. MyLastName

Dear Mrs.,

Prudie hopes you have a sense of humor, because it is kind of funny. Your mother is applying the “rules” from her days as a newlywed to your life. The career woman thing is foreign to her, as much of modern womanhood seems to be. She does sound very invested in this marriage. (Might your new husband be a Rockefeller?) It is clear that your mother wants you to have clean floors and your husband’s last name, and it’s unlikely you can bring her around to your way of thinking. Ergo … tune her out and try to see the humor in the situation.

—Prudie, amenably

Dear Prudence,

My girlfriend and I, both in our 30s, have been dating for six months. We’re crazy about each other. Thus far, we’ve been quite successful at balancing who pays for what. I was brought up very traditionally and always enjoy the opportunity to grab the check and pay for both of us, particularly on datelike occasions. My girlfriend appreciates that but feels guilty about me doing this all the time. She makes up for it by insisting on going Dutch on less formal occasions and making us dinner at her place fairly often. Here’s the question: I have a relative who’s getting married soon, which will involve travel and staying in a hotel. As a gentleman, I feel that my girlfriend shouldn’t have to help pay for this. She, on the other hand, brilliantly argues that this is a fun trip we’re taking together. I believe that as my guest, she shouldn’t have to shoulder any expense. The battle has begun! But you agree with me, right? Back me up here, Prudie.

—Financially Tight (but Gentlemanly)

Dear Fin,

You have what Prudie’s father used to call “high-class worries.” Not too many men are complaining that the girlfriend wants to share expenses. Regarding the wedding, Prudie hopes your girlfriend will allow herself to be your guest. After all, it’s your relative. If you have the funds, then, as a gentleman, you should pay. Your signature, however, suggests it might be a stretch, so in that case, by all means let your loving girlfriend chip in. In other words, pride goeth before the insolvency.

—Prudie, sensibly

Dear Prudence,

I’m a 19-year-old female in college who has had very bad luck with men. I hardly ever date, I’ve never had a boyfriend, and the few experiences I’ve had with dating all ended badly. I was either being used by the boy, the boy lost interest, or I lost interest. I’ve been told by my friends and family that I’m wonderful and beautiful. I was even asked to be a model for a magazine, so I know I can’t be that terrible to look at. Yet no one seems to want me. To make matters worse, my younger sister not only has a boyfriend she’s in love with, but has lost her virginity with him as well. (I’m still a virgin.) I love my sister and would never begrudge her any happiness, but I feel depressed for myself. Is it normal for someone my age to have never had a boyfriend and to still be a virgin? And where are all the good men? What can a girl do to get a boyfriend?

—Young and Lonely

Dear Young,

There is no need for you to feel out of it. It is not unheard of to be 19 and to have never had a real boyfriend. It is admirable that you are still a virgin, considering you’ve never really cared for anyone. As to your third question, the good men are everywhere. (Well, OK, maybe not everywhere, but they’re around.) As for the fourth question, tone down the stress level about this issue. Live your life, follow your interests, enjoy your friends, and out of the blue will come a man who thinks you’re wonderful.

—Prudie, optimistically

Note to short people: Recently, in an answer, Prudie used the phrase, “nasty, British, and short.” To her amazement, many self-identified short men wrote to say they were highly offended and asked, what was wrong with me, anyway? One reader said he was revolted to read “such tripe,” and many wondered why I was prejudiced against short men? Perhaps all those offended were science majors who just don’t have time for literature. The pun Prudie made was based on Thomas Hobbes’$2 17th-century work Leviathan, wherein he wrote: ” … the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Prudie sincerely hopes all short science majors feel better now.