Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online at Washingtonpost.com to chat with readers each Monday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.
My girlfriend and I have been seeing each other for four months. When we started dating she told me she usually doesn’t go for guys as physically attractive as me, which I found odd. She is very cute but not the hottest girl I’ve dated. Her intelligence, personality, and character are why I’ve fallen for her. Things have been great until the last two weeks when she started becoming more distant and less affectionate toward me. Last weekend she went with her single girlfriends to the Caribbean for a brief vacation. I barely heard from her the week after she got back, but we both have demanding jobs. I ordered flowers to be delivered to her office. She then called me and said she no longer wants to be in a relationship, and that I’m way more attractive then her previous partners. I asked had I done anything wrong and she replied I’ve been perfect. But she said while on vacation she barely missed me. She said she fears if we continue, I’ll find someone better looking, or worse cheat on her like her last boyfriend. I asked her to reconsider since a weekend of no communication is too short a time to make such a huge decision and she agreed. I feel like I am being dumped based on my looks. I don’t want to lose her but I wonder if it’s worth it to get back together if she reconsiders. Do her girlfriends have something do with this? What should I do?
Even though you are gorgeous and attentive and “perfect” it might simply be that this woman is just not that into you. If that’s the case, neither her quiet contemplation nor your elaborate bouquets will change her mind. It may be that telling you that you’re too handsome for her is nicer than saying you’re too dull. You’re suspicious that her jealous gal pals, while guzzling pina coladas and other witches brews, helped convince her to break up with you. If your girlfriend dumps you, you’ll have your answer to that if over the next few weeks you find yourself “accidentally” running into her eager friends. Your new love acknowledged that she thinks your appeal to women is going to lead to your cheating on her. If that’s a real fear, then she is one of those people who carry around for easy reference binders labeled “Bad Things That Happened to Me Last Time.” That’s an unattractive trait. It’s true that few men would be uncomfortable finding themselves with the best-looking woman in the room on their arm. But I do think some women would be disconcerted by feeling like a drab peahen compared to a more colorful peacock. Let’s say your looks are at the heart of her concern, but she’s willing to try again. You can’t reassure her by permanently wearing a Halloween mask—she has to take the time to learn to trust. But if the girl of your dreams is so distressed by having a great-looking guy be crazy about her, then you may need to be with someone who’s more comfortable with what she sees when she looks in the mirror.
I live in Ohio, the battleground state in this year’s presidential election. I have just learned that my mother, who is the caretaker of my aging and infirm grandparents, has filled out their absentee ballots for them, having them vote for my mother’s preferred party. My grandmother has Alzheimer’s and believes it’s 1989. She is unaware of a single issue being discussed in the election. Worse, my grandmother has been a life-long voter for a party that is not the one my mother supports. Should I attempt to intervene in some way?
—Feeling the Civil War in Ohio
I’m going to guess that your ardent opposition to voter fraud does not make this the first time you have found your mother’s actions wanting. If your mother has filled out a ballot for people who are too mentally incompetent to make their own decision, or is she has filled out a ballot that is contradictory to the wishes of one or both and coerced them into signing it—or signed for them—then she is committing a crime. Since the integrity of the voting process is fundamental to democracy, and if your report of your mother’s actions is accurate, then her behavior is morally and legally indefensible and I join you in condemning her. At this point, assuming the ballots have been mailed, the only way to intervene would be to report this to the local election board. They should flag the ballots and at the least see if the signatures on the envelopes match those of the voter registration applications. Maybe the officials will find the ballots suspicious and investigate further. Let’s say they decide to make an example of your mother and prosecute her for voter fraud. Yes, justice may well be done, but at a very high cost to your family. It will be obvious that someone with a close but not affectionate relationship ratted her out. If your mother ends up busy with her legal defense, then someone else is going to have to pick up the slack of caring for your grandparents. Not every wrong can be righted, and I think you’re better off concluding this is one of those cases. But if on Tuesday it turns out the presidential election is decided by a two-vote margin in Ohio, then you’re going to have a story the whole country will want to hear.
My boyfriend “Jake” and I have an adorable 11-month-old son. Our son is getting to a more impressionable age and I’m afraid Jake’s immature behavior will rub off on him. Jake thinks its funny to talk as if he’s speaking for my son to say things like, “Shut up, Momma” or “Screw you.” He will take my son’s arm and hit me in the face with it, making my son laugh. Jake uses profanity in front of him and exposes him to inappropriate videos and music. He thinks its funny to tease our son and make him cry. When he does cry or get upset, Jake laughs at him. I have explained to Jake that this behavior bothers me, but Jake just rolls his eyes. I’m feeling frustrated and have threatened to post things he’s doing on Facebook in hopes the humiliation will be a wake-up call. Am I overacting to his behavior or am I right to be concerned? If I’m right, how do I make Jake stop acting this way?
I get so many distressing letters from women in your situation, finding themselves having reproduced with boyfriends who are overgrown children, irresponsible and immature. Talk about The End of Men! You don’t specify, but almost always the pregnancies were not planned, and were just something that happened. So please visit your gynecologist and discuss getting one of the new, highly reliable forms of birth control so that you don’t accidentally double down with Jake. Yes, you are right to be concerned, because Jake’s behavior is nasty and destructive. But your idea of putting him in an electronic pillory and hoping the humiliation will reform him has me concerned about your own judgment. You two will both be helped by attending parenting classes together. Not only will these help give you the basics in raising your son, the lessons you both learn in empathy and dealing with frustration can be applied to your relationship. Don’t suggest this in a punitive way to Jake. Instead explain that now that you have become parents, you want to feel you are in this together and that you’re the best mother and father possible to your son. Let’s hope Jake agrees and that learning about what’s going on in his son’s head will prompt him to realize it’s time he himself stopped acting like big baby.
My brother and I have a close relationship, and despite being in our 40s, we’re fairly juvenile in our jokes and discussions. So, our texting is mostly stupid jokes and bathroom humor (70 percent) and random discussions of pretty women (10 percent). While we can be scatological when we get together, the reflections on pretty women is never, ever done in front of other people. This has been part of our relationship since we were kids. My wife objects to all this. There are no secrets here; my cellphone is open for my wife to look at any time she wants. She, however, gets upset simply knowing it’s going on and thinks I should stop. I argue that nobody sees the texts, that we never make comments when anyone else is around, and that when guys get together they’ll be guys. Your thoughts?
And now a word in favor of being juvenile. I wish your wife could appreciate how valuable it is that you and your brother remain close and that he is the harmless outlet for the hilarious fart jokes she finds repellent, and the observations about the local talent she finds objectionable. I don’t believe that marriage means people relinquish all privacy rights. You make clear here that your wife has no reason to feel it necessary to snoop on your cellphone. So if she doesn’t want to read crude jokes or harmless appreciation of pretty women, then she should keep her paws off your phone. I also believe married people don’t have to share a sensibility about every aspect of life. You have found the perfect way to blow off gas without involving her. She should stop being such a bluenose and be grateful for the function her brother-in-law performs in both your lives. And I’m dying to know, what’s the subject of the last 20 percent of your jokes?
More Dear Prudence Columns
“My Twin Sister Says I’m Fat: Prudie offers advice on twins entangled in family rifts, rows, and rivalries.” Posted Aug. 25, 2011.
“Give Grandpa a Kiss-Off?: A creeping suspicion tells me to keep my father-in-law away from my kids. Should I listen to it?” Posted Sept. 1, 2011.
“Longtime Companion: Is it OK to hide my gay affair since my wife doesn’t want sex anymore?” Posted Sept. 8, 2011.
“Deadly Family Secret: My mother-in-law hid a life-threatening condition that could strike my child. How can I forgive her?” Posted Sept. 15, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“Type “R” for Revenge: Dear Prudence advises a woman who got her cheating ex fired by sending a nasty email—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Aug. 29, 2011.
“The Nudist Next Door: Dear Prudence advises a reader whose new neighbor needs better curtains—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Sept. 6, 2011.
“Am I Dating a Swinger?: Dear Prudence advises a woman who craves a monogamous relationship but can’t seem to find one—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Sept. 12, 2011.
“He’d Like a Virgin: Dear Prudence advises a woman who lied to her fiance about her sexual past—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Sept. 19, 2011.