Dear Prudence

Don’t Come Around Here No More

My fiancé won’t give up in bed until he thinks he’s pleased me multiple times.

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photograph by Teresa Castracane.

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Dear Prudence,
I have gotten myself into a delicate dilemma. I have just become engaged to a man I love and adore. The problem is I have been faking orgasms for two years. We don’t live together now and because of our schedules, we only have sex about once a month. It is amazing. I love our closeness and connection. I appreciate that he can go for hours and doesn’t want to stop until he has fully satisfied me. But, the truth is, I am satisfied with one orgasm and I just can’t seem to have more than one. I tried telling him that, but he wants to please me. So, to make him happy and to move things along, I started faking. Sometimes up to seven fake orgasms a session. What am I going to when we are married, living together, and (presumably) making love more often? I can’t continue this deception every night. Do I admit to my “Harry” the truth? Or do I keep up the pretense? I wish I had never started down this path and had been honest from the beginning.

—Semi-Satisfied Sally

Dear Sally,
It’s not too late for the Oscars to include a new category: The Meg “I’ll Have What She’s Having” Ryan Special Achievement Award for Simulated Orgasm. You’d be a runaway winner. The nub of the matter is that under the guise of pleasing you, your boyfriend has been bullying your genitals in order to boost his own sense of his prowess. It could also be that he hasn’t actually learned the art of going all night, but simply has a problem coming. Over the past two years you’ve had 24 actual orgasms and about 160 fake ones. I suppose a surreptitious approach would be, once you’re living together and having sex more regularly, to suggest capping the ecstasy. If you get in the habit of having sex several times a week, you can explain you find it more satisfying to have one big O and you’d rather not keep humping away until your private parts feel like sandpaper while trying to squeeze out a string of diminishing climaxes. But I think you should be honest, even at the risk that the depth of your sexual deception results in temporary piston failure. Feeling forced to playact is no basis for a marriage. You need to tell him that your initial cries of joy are the real thing, but that you’ve felt so pressured to please him by showing how pleased you are, you’ve been faking the rest. If he wants to do more than stroke his own ego, he needs to start by listening to what you really want. It should be reassuring for him to hear that when you make love you are orgasmic and wholly satisfied.


Dear Prudence: Desperate Single

Dear Prudence,
I work in the IT department of a law firm and I set up conference rooms for meetings. A few of the rooms I set up are right across the street from a brand new apartment building that’s almost 50 stories tall. Most of the time you can’t see into people’s living rooms because the glass is reflective. But between 8 and 9 a.m., because of the angle of the sun, you can see right into people living rooms and bedrooms. One woman gets up around 8:30 a.m. and likes to strut around her bedroom naked. I’m kind of shocked that she doesn’t realize how many people can actually see her. I’d like her to know she should pull the blinds down as almost everyone else in the building does at that time of day. The problem is, I have no idea what her apartment number is. Should I contact the building and let them know? I was also thinking of putting up a sign for her, but that wouldn’t look good to a client coming in for a meeting.

—Accidental Peeping Tom

Dear Accidental,
I have the feeling your firm may have certain kinds of clients who, were they to be seated directly across from Lady Godiva at about 8:30 in the morning, could be convinced to agree to any proposal your lawyers want to put forth. A sign is a bad idea, as are a telescope or binoculars—although I wouldn’t be surprised to find out your office building is now host to a bunch of workers with a sudden passion for bird watching. It’s incumbent upon the urban dweller to recognize that people who live in glass apartments should put on their underwear. So perhaps what you are observing is this woman’s deliberate desire to strut upon the stage. Your notifying her building’s management of her activities will likely be perceived as a tale told by an idiot. This is no Rear Window in which you peep at your neighbors and solve a murder. If you don’t want to see this woman’s dishabille, just turn away.


Dear Prudence,
I understand “redshirting” youngsters to help them be better in sports is becoming the trend. It may be acceptable to hold back a child entering kindergarten, but I cannot understand it for a 13-year-old boy who will be entering eighth grade. Our wonderful, intelligent, sports-loving grandson is slight in build and has asthma. Our son-in-law is so desperate for his son to excel in sports, he has made the decision to hold him back in seventh grade to ensure he makes the school sports teams. How will he explain to his friends that this is not for academic reasons, but to help get him in the starting position for sports? I’m afraid the embarrassment of this will be devastating. How do I approach this intelligently with my son-in-law?

—Worried Grandmother

Dear Grandmother,
First of all, this may be a stupid idea on your son-in-law’s part, but it is not a decision he can solely ram through. I assume if he’s honest that it’s for sports purposes, he’ll be laughed out of the principal’s office. If he tries to make the case that your high-performing grandson has had such a bad year that it needs to be repeated, I also hope the administrators will pull your grandson’s transcript, show this is demonstrably wrong, and explain children are not held back unless there is a compelling reason. You mention you want to plead your case to your son-in-law. But I almost always suggest that in-law problems are best dealt with by having the blood relatives address the issue first. So you have to have a talk with your daughter, about whom you say nothing. Let’s hope she neither shares this silly fantasy, nor is so intimidated by her husband that she’s afraid to stop him. Try a calm discussion in which you say you understand the importance of sports, but you wanted to express your concern that this will be socially and academically damaging for your grandson. Say there’s nothing guaranteed to turn off a young boy to education more than having to relearn the same material unnecessarily. But let’s hope the educators in charge of making this decision see through your son-in-law’s destructive gambit.


Dear Prudence,
I’m a young female doctor who’s fairly new to the hospital where I’m doing my residency in pediatrics. Residency is brutally difficult, but I can handle it. What I’m having major difficulty with are the passive-aggressive nurses and secretaries who share my workspace. I’m barely 5 feet tall and look like a teenager. I’ve also never been good at dealing with the subtle drama that goes on between women. I find it really hard to do my job when the middle-aged nurses and secretaries question every order I give, force me to justify my orders, “forget” to do what I asked, or whisper among each other about whether or not I’m competent. They never do this to the staff doctors or male residents. They also do it to any young female who’s starting out. They are not outwardly aggressive, so there is rarely a concrete incident I could document as proof. I should be able to talk to my program director about this, but she herself is a bully who delights in catching us making mistakes and in putting us down. I’ve got more than three years to go, but I cry for hours after every long, tiring shift. How do I deal with this?

—Miserable Doc

Dear Doc,
To find a diagnosis for you, I turned to my friend, emergency physician Kerry Foley. She said she doesn’t doubt your account that the nurses and other staff can be passive aggressive, and maybe even more so to other females. She says that even when one is experienced and rested, these relationships can be difficult. But add the resident’s burden of being overworked, underpaid, eating dinner from a vending machine, and dealing with sick children, and that’s a recipe for tears. Foley advises the therapeutic shift of trying to see the world from the perspective of these middle-aged women. Foley says imagine what it’s like to have years of experience, then have to face a yearly troupe of newly minted doctors who arrive acting like the boss. She says in every new work situation she encountered it took her a while to earn the respect of the nursing staff. She suggests doing the following: Be kind to patients and their families; answer the phone at the desk sometimes when everyone is busy; help a patient to the bathroom on occasion; ask the nurses’ opinions about a clinical situation. She also suggests scheduling an appointment with the head nurse on your floor and asking, “What can I do to be a more effective member of this patient care team?” Foley says that young doctors have had their noses in books for so long that they often need to work on their people skills—you pretty much acknowledge this yourself. So try these suggestions and see if things don’t improve. She adds it couldn’t hurt to show up at the beginning of your next night shift with a plate of brownies for the hard-working staff.


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