Dear Prudence

The Bitter End

My boyfriend demands a type of intimacy that I don’t like. Should I give in or hit the road?

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Dear Prudence,
I began dating a man last summer, and it has slowly turned into something serious. He is a great person, I am head over heels for him, and he indicates he feels the same way about me. We recently said, “I love you.” We have excellent chemistry in the bedroom as well, but recently he brought up that he loves anal sex and that it’s a fetish of his. We have tried a couple of times, but I often shy away and feel uncomfortable. He even told me that it’s a make-or-break for him in a relationship. I’m a pretty open person, but I’m afraid that I’ll never be as into anal sex as he is, if at all. Should I bite the bullet and just go for it or let him know that I’ll probably never enjoy it to the extent he does and let this “break” our relationship?

—Make or Break

Dear Make,
You may be head over heels, but if you don’t like what he has to offer, try not to land facedown. Joan Rivers has a line that she loves anal sex because it frees her up to read a book or check her BlackBerry, but I don’t think that’s going to work for you. Your boyfriend is kind of a bum for allowing your relationship to progress so far without letting you know about his fixation. Surely he’s aware that it’s the kind of thing that could make someone want to turn tail and run. There he is, getting that look in his eye, and there you are thinking, It’s time to pick up another tube of Preparation H. I’ve gotten crosswise with the fetish community before, because I disagree with their assertion that if you love someone with a fetish, you should accommodate it. I wonder why they don’t think it’s equally true that if you love someone who has no interest in your fetish, that person should be accommodated—especially if the fetish makes it difficult to sit at your desk the following day. I know that for the gay community, anal sex is not a “fetish” but a standard part of the repertoire, and that it’s also a common variation for many heterosexuals. But your boyfriend is now saying that this is his regular entrée and not just an occasional amuse bouche. You’ve tried to stick it out for his sake, but in the end you just don’t enjoy it. I don’t see that you have much choice except to leave him behind.


Dear Prudence: House of Hoarders

Dear Prudence,
I am in my mid-20s and pregnant with my first child. The baby’s father and I are engaged, and we couldn’t be happier with each other or more ecstatic about the pregnancy. My fiance has two older sisters, and all three of them are in their 40s and childless. Their widowed mother is over the moon about becoming a grandmother. She’s a wealthy woman, and she has offered me an incredible gift: She wants to pay off my considerable student loans. She assures me that she has the financial means to do this without affecting her own quality of life. My fiance is all for me accepting the gift, because it’ll make us more financially secure. However, one of his sisters is furious over her mother’s gift and has accused me of getting pregnant for financial gain. I would love to have my student loans paid off but do not want to ruin my relationship with my future sister-in-law. What should I do?

—Pregnant and Puzzled

Dear Pregnant,
Take the money. It’s unfortunate that “Griselda” found out about your future mother-in-law’s offer, because this gift to you is none of her business. If your future sister-in-law is furious now, imagine how she’s going to react when the darling baby comes and Grandma lavishes love, attention, and gifts on her or him. It’s too bad that this grown woman can’t be happy that there will be a next generation for her nuclear family, but you can always hold out hope that her niece or nephew might win her over. Your future mother-in-law’s gift is dauntingly generous, but it’s not out of line with other acts by well-to-do in-laws, such as picking up the tab for a six-figure wedding celebration or making a down payment on a house for their offspring. Tell your boyfriend’s mother that you are moved by her offer and that you gratefully accept. Despite your future mother-in-law’s wealth, you and your fiance clearly have financial concerns, especially with a baby on the way. So start economizing by having a wedding that’s tastefully modest, instead of blowing your nest egg on champagne (which you can’t drink, anyway).


Dear Prudence,
My parents were divorced when I was young, and my father remarried to a woman who had a daughter. We lived across the country, and I would visit for a month every other year. My stepmother is a mean and manipulative woman who will do anything to get her way. She never liked me, and my stepsister still comments on how her mother likes to blame things on me. When it was time for me to go to college, my father agreed to pay for my schooling. Then my stepmother called me and said that my father had a heart attack and that his dying wish was to see me, but that she wouldn’t let me see him. It all turned out to be a lie, just her strange attempt not to have him pay my tuition. I broke ties with that side of my family after that incident. I had several rough years, but I’ve been able to create a happy life for myself with a good career and wonderful family. My father and stepsister reached out to me a few years ago after more than a decade of silence. I’ve had a hard time reconnecting as I’m not sure my father knows what my stepmother did. Should I tell my father and stepsister?


Dear Conflicted,
For whatever reason, your father has thrown his lot in with this lunatic and decided not to stand up to her but instead to accommodate her craziness. Often the worst people get their way because they are willing to do anything, and sane people—like you—would rather walk away. Your father let you disappear from his life and never even bothered to find out why. Surely if your stepmother had some malicious story as an explanation, he knew on some level it was a lie. If you are interested in establishing a relationship with your father, recognize that he is still in the grip of this woman. But go ahead and explain to him, and your stepsister, what actually transpired to make you decide you’d had enough. Keep in mind this may be very guilt-inducing for your father, and he could end up acting defensive and odd—after all, he was willing to let his child disappear from his life in order to keep peace with the nut he married. The most important thing to hold onto is the great life you’ve built and the happy family you have. If you start to feel emotionally undermined by resuming contact, don’t feel guilty about your need to keep your distance.


Dear Prudence,
My husband and I enjoy entertaining friends and neighbors with dinners, cocktail parties, and other festive events throughout the year. We are friends with one couple we include frequently. They are bright, enjoyable people, but they don’t know when to leave. We had one cocktail party scheduled from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Most people left by 8:30, a few stragglers stayed until 9:30, and this couple finally decided they should head home at midnight. They always stay at least a couple of hours after all the other guests have gone. Is it ever appropriate to send guests home? If so, how do I do it? The wife has very strongly held opinions about etiquette—and heaven help anyone who violates her rules!

—Pulling in the Welcome Mat

Dear Pulling,
I wonder what etiquette book the wife’s been reading that says after your hosts have loaded the dishwasher, gotten into their pajamas, and flossed their teeth, it’s time to say, “Let’s play Parcheesi!” From your description, either they’re incredibly insensitive, or they thought you were hoping to have your cocktail party listed in the Guinness World Records. Don’t worry about offending these would-be boarders. After the next to last guest has gone, just say to them, “It’s been wonderful talking to you, but we have an early morning, so we’ll see you soon, I hope.” If that doesn’t get them to the door, get their coats and say, “Bob, Marsha, I’m afraid we have to ask you to leave.” And if that’s what’s required, you may want to limit your socializing with them to meeting at restaurants that close early.


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