Dear Prudence

Loose Lips

My co-worker turned our weekend together into an office joke. What can I do?

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Dear Prudence,
I am a 38-year-old female who has never had sex until recently. I have a 30-year-old co-worker who had been asking me for a date. I agreed to go out with him on a Friday and we had a great time—movie, dinner, walking on the sea wall. We ended up at his place and we had sex. It was amazing for my first time and I was so happy when our lovemaking went on into Sunday. It’s what happened on Monday that hurt me so much: Little did I know that this co-worker would give details of our weekend date to fellow co-workers. I was so mad and upset—how could he treat something that was so important to me as a joke? I don’t know how to confront him or my co-workers. I feel like I have been caught doing a no-no and am so upset that I’m thinking of leaving my job. But I love it and have been working here 15 years. Why can one person make having sex for the first time so dirty?

—What Have I Done?

Dear What,
Sure, the guy’s a rat, but do you know how rare it is for a woman to have great sex the first time? He’s the one who’s committed the no-no and anyone listening to his boasting knows that. You can freeze him out, but you might feel better if you first tell him in a composed, but disappointed tone, how distressing it is that he has decided to make your private lives the subject of office gossip. As for your co-workers, don’t say anything! Look at a copy of the Mona Lisa, and practice adopting her amused, secretive expression if the subject comes up. Forget leaving your job—you’re hardly the first person to have sex with a big-mouth co-worker. You’ve had an unfortunate aftermath to your first time. But now that you know what is out there for you, find a man more worthy of your attentions.


Dear Prudence,
I am a 22-year–old, self-sufficient adult. I have been dating the same man for the past two years. We recently found out that we will be having a baby. I have a full-time job making a decent amount and he has a good job as well. My main concern is breaking the news to my parents. Although I don’t live with them or depend on them financially, I’m afraid they may think we are not financially or emotionally ready. If they take the news badly, I will be devastated. His family has embraced the news and all seem genuinely happy for us. Although this was not planned, I believe that any pregnancy is God’s blessing and should be embraced. How do you suggest I tell them. and how do I react if they do react badly?


Dear Mother,
At the risk of sounding like I had a triceratops as a childhood pet, I am concerned by the absence of any mention of a wedding in your letter. Are you going to continue to “date” the father of your child while you figure out if he’s the guy for you? Yes, your baby was unplanned, but now you have to plan how to create a stable home in which to raise this child. Since you and the father are already committed to each other, marriage would be a good place to start. That your biggest concern about unexpectedly becoming a mother at age 22 is that your parents will be mad says you have a lot of growing up to do—and fast. Even if your parents are upset that you weren’t careful enough to put off childbearing until your life was more settled, the arrival of a beautiful grandchild generally has a soothing effect on such feelings. As for how to tell them, there’s no better way than to announce you’re pregnant and very happy about it. It would help if you could add what conclusions you and the father have come to about marriage and/or your living situation. If your parents have a fit, you need to remain calm and certain in the face of it. Practicing this response will be good preparation for motherhood.


Dear Prudie,
My daughter, 26, never, ever initiates any contact with me. Her dad and I are divorced—and she worships him. When I call her she never calls me back. I’ve often left several messages, and even then I rarely get a call back. When we’re together—which is rare—she’s hostile and quiet, though on occasional visits, we experience some warmth. My other child, a son, is just the opposite: We’re very close and see each other often. I’m tired of the abuse from my daughter. Should I just stop calling her and wait for her to contact me? We were very close when she was a little girl, but it’s been like this since she turned 11.

—Hurt Mother

Dear Hurt,
Do you have any ideas about why your daughter doesn’t like you? Were you hypercritical? Neglectful? Did you favor her brother? Resent her close relationship with her father? Did she unfairly blame you for the divorce and has never gotten past it? (Was she 11 when you split?) Before you communicate with your daughter about your strained relationship, you should think about what her simmering grievances might be. Take a look at Deborah Tannen’s new book, You’re Wearing That? about the struggles between mothers and daughters. Read the chapter “Don’t Shut Me Out,” which deals with daughters and fathers, and mothers and sons. I’ll bet you recognize yourself in there, and if you do, give your daughter the book and ask her to read the same chapter. Tell her it made you think about why she might be so unhappy with you. Explain that even though she’s a grown woman, she’s still your daughter and you long to have a good relationship with her, but you don’t know what to do. Then ask her advice on how you two might makes things better.


Dear Prudence,
I love my husband dearly and we have been happily married for 20 years. With that said, I find myself more and more jealous of our (his) dog. OK, I know this man loves me, and I think even more than the dog, but good grief! He will walk in the door at the end of a long day and there she’ll be, barking and howling for him as I stand there waiting for my turn. He lies on the floor with her on the weekends and pats her, talks to her, and sleeps side by side with her. Sometimes I blow up about it, but then shortly after I feel like a nut job for being jealous. I have joked to our friends that maybe if I rolled over on my back and peed on the floor I might warrant the same attentions. His love for the dog is a running joke with the family and our friends.

—Throw Me a Bone!

Dear Throw,
Can I borrow your dog? Ours is sweet but pretty much a bust in the “I love you, I love you, I love you” department, and my husband is bereft about it. We briefly had a foster dog that would drape himself across my husband’s chest, his nose in my husband’s armpit—those days were among the happiest of my husband’s life. As for sleeping with your pets, well, the early years of my marriage were spent with my late, beloved cat perched on my head each night. Either you feel this way about animals or you don’t. Your husband does; you don’t. Look at it this way: He comes home to you and the dog every night. Wouldn’t you be more jealous if you thought he were out somewhere cuddling with the cutie in accounting? And as much as he may love his dog, surely he does still throw you a bone every now and then.