Dear Prudence

Let’s Get Physical

How far should I go with my boyfriend?

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Dear Prudie,
I’m about to become a junior in high school who is involved in a fairly serious relationship (as serious as you can get in high school). Recently I’ve noticed my friends getting very physical with their boyfriends, or saying they would have no problem with oral sex. Am I wrong to think that this is a little much for high school? And how physical should you be getting in high school? Just making out, or more? The only thing I have been taught by our educational system and my parents is: no sex. I am in no way thinking about sex, let alone oral sex. I would like to know how far should I be going? I guess I am nervous about going too far with someone and regretting it. Your response is appreciated.

—Without True Guidance

Dear With,
Your instincts are good. Because you are not thinking about any kind of sex, that is what you should be doing: nothing. There are no rules about what amount of sexual activity is “right” for high school. Prudence (the quality, not this writer) would dictate as little as possible, given developmental issues. Because you say you are in a serious relationship, it is to your benefit that your young man seems not to be pushing you to go beyond your comfort level. While your friends are doing more than you, they’re losing out in the long run because they will have made a commonplace of what should be special. And Prudie would like to take this opportunity to state that oral sex is sex. There is some kind of new-age thinking among kids that oral sex is not sex. This is like saying that shoplifting isn’t stealing because you’re not robbing a bank.

—Prudie, admiringly

Dear Prudence,
I’m tying the knot in December and am experiencing in-laws problems, even before the wedding! Don’t get me wrong, my in-laws are kind people, but they can never take “no” for an answer when it comes to food. I am constantly struggling to lose weight, and they just pile on food and more food. When I first started living alone, about two years ago, I used to take all my meals with them, and I put on 9 kilos (nearly 20 pounds) in two months. While I’m constantly saying “no” or “enough,” food is just dumped onto my plate, and I have to eat it or they get upset. The truth is no matter how much I eat they still insist that I’ve not had enough. And it is never wholesome food. My ma-in-law is not the best of cooks, and more often than not omelets are runny, chicken is only partially cooked, and almost everything is deep-fried. My fiance has asked them time and again to leave me alone, but they just don’t seem to get the message. And they never fail to tell me that I’m putting on weight, and I better watch out. What shall I do?

—The fattened goose

Dear Fat,
Your situation does sound a little like they are trying to make human foie gras with you. It would be bad enough if the beloved’s food=love mother were a gourmet cook, but what you describe sounds simply awful … not to mention it being unhealthy, and the parents being rude and pushy, if not nuts. Prudie believes no one need be at the mercy of any neurotic, no matter what the scenario. You really need to stand your ground with your fiance’s parents. Insist on eating only what you wish and in the amount you choose. If they are offended, well … they’re offended. The good news is that once you’re married you can reduce the visits, or invite them to your house.

—Prudie, rationally

I have been dating a wonderful man. (He’s 55 and I am 52.) He recently confided to me that one of the issues that led to the end of his previous marriage was his inability to make love to his wife after being present during the birth of their child and the fact she was now a mother. (Anyone thinking Elvis Presley?) This man and his wife had been together for over 25 years. He was married when he first met her, and she is about six years younger than he is. They dated for several years and had been married about three or four years when she wanted a child (he did not). He was, however, enthusiastic during her pregnancy and loves this child with all his heart, and they share custody of him. Prior to the child’s birth, they had enjoyed an active love life and traveled extensively. She apparently did everything to “entice” him back, but with no luck. Due to reading about Presley’s similar phobia and the fact I will never have more children, should I “go for it” in this relationship? We have discussed marriage on numerous occasions.

—Don’t want to be a another “Priscilla”

Dear Don’t,
A few years ago Prudie would have said, no offense, but you have no worries about duplicating your beloved’s previous scenario. Now, however, with Petri dishes, other women’s eggs, and scientific advances, such a statement cannot be made. In any case, your relationship sounds like a safe bet on that score. You might, however, want to consider the implications of a guy with a whore/Madonna complex. That can sometimes be a sign of a not terribly well-integrated personality. Good luck.

—Prudie, conjugally

Dear Prudence,
My dear friend for over 30 years received her Ph.D. nearly one year ago. I was and remain extremely proud of her. Of all of my friends my age, she is the only one who chose to advance that far in her education. However, I’ve begun to notice that she insists upon being “Doctor” in situations where it is not entirely appropriate to correct people if they omit her “title” (like the pizza parlor). Is there something the matter with me for feeling uncomfortable when she behaves like this? Please help. I love my friend, but I’m starting to dislike “Doctor X” immensely.

“Doctor X’s” friend

Dear Doc,
Ah, memories. Prudie dealt with this once before and caught hell and heard from every Ph.D. in the country—and a few from abroad. Prudie’s personal feeling, so stated, was that the title “Dr.” be reserved for medical doctors and professors in academic settings. (Historically it was the scholars who had the title “Dr.”) In today’s common usage, however, it’s the medical docs who seem identified with the title. On an airplane, for example, when they ask if there’s a doctor on board, they are not looking for a psychologist. Surely you know that it is your friend’s pride at having earned a doctorate that is behind all this. There may even be a soupçon of self-importance to her insistence that the honorific be used. Prudie’s own Dr. Pussycat, for example, never corrects people who call him “Mr.” Get it? If your friend needs this, cut her some slack and stop being annoyed. Mentally just roll your eyes, as some others are sure to do.

—Prudie, tolerantly