Dear Prudence

Measuring Up

Should I warn people I’m dating a much shorter man?

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

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Dear Prudence,
My boyfriend and I fell in love at first sight. By the time I stood up and realized he was 4 inches shorter, we were too in love to care. I never in a million years thought I would be in this situation, but when you find the right person, you just know. My question for you is: Should I prepare other people for the height difference? I find myself trying to drop it into conversation when people haven’t met him yet. Sometimes I try to mention celebrity couples as examples, to give people an idea, but that only seems to make things worse. What I really want to say is, “I have trouble noticing the height difference because he’s a god in bed.” What’s your advice? And why does this stigma still exist?

—The Next Clare Grant and Seth Green

Dear Clare,
People definitely need to be prepared for this shocker. Before you introduce him you should alert your friends and family by saying, “You’ve heard that good things come in small packages. Well, even though my boyfriend is small, his package is not, so despite what you were probably thinking, I’m very satisfied in bed, thank you very much!” Then you could add, “I don’t know why people are so concerned about height differences. Sure, I never thought I would be in the ridiculous situation of towering over my boyfriend, but I’m not hung up about it at all!” Your boyfriend is shorter than you are. Big deal. It’s not something worth mentioning or being defensive about. It’s an unimportant, self-evident fact. You say there’s a stigma about shorter men with taller women, but that seems to be mostly in your own head. So get over it before you scare off your terrific guy through your own smallness.


Dear Prudence,
I’m one of the unlucky “older” millennials who began his career just before the Great Recession. I did well in college, but after graduation I struggled to find steady employment in the economically turbulent years that followed. The work I was able to secure wasn’t glamorous—tech support, clerical work, etc. but I believed it was better to be employed doing unglamorous work than nothing at all. I hoped my willingness to “pay my dues” would be seen as an asset to future employers, a reflection of my commitment and work ethic. Except it hasn’t. I’m anxious to start a career and move away from survival jobs to something with growth potential. But I find employers only want recent college graduates for these jobs. When I am able to secure an interview I find that employers are unimpressed with my résumé. I’m afraid that I’m already aged out of the very jobs that will help me establish a career and it’s only going to get harder. Is my only option take out tens of thousands of dollars of loans, go to grad school, and kick the can ahead a couple years and hope for the best? Should I just give up on the hope of ever having a career?


Dear Stalled,
It’s probably not of great comfort, but you are not alone. I spoke to Catherine Ruetschlin, a senior policy analyst at the think tank Demos who studies the millennial job market, and she wants to assure you that you have done everything right. You, and many others in your cohort, are caught in economic forces beyond your control. Ruetschlin says, however, there’s reason to be hopeful. The economy is starting to turn around, and while coming into the job market during a serious recession does have long-term earning consequences, it should not mean one’s career never gets started. The hardest part now is that when you are feeling defeated and depressed, you have to find the mental and physical resources to redouble your efforts. You don’t mention what industry you’re interested in, but whatever it is, Ruetschlin says you have to study it intensively. Identify people who have the kind of job you’re looking for, and ask them if you can come in for a brief informational meeting to get advice on how to break into the field—making contacts is crucial! If you have information about networking events, go to them. Instead of taking on more debt by going to graduate school, see if there are individual classes you could take in your field from EdX, Coursera, Udacity, for example, and pay the extra fee to get a certificate of completion. This would be an inexpensive way of showing employers your knowledge and skills are not outdated. Contact your alma mater—many schools will continue to provide career advice and contact information for their graduates. Have some smart people review your résumé and make sure it sells your best points. Describe the skills you honed in your various positions instead of listing a series of dreary jobs. Yes, you’ve still got a slog ahead, but with your grit and focus, I hope you can write back soon and say you finally got in the right door.


Dear Prudence,
Just over 10 years ago, I started dating the woman who would become my wife. After two months, she accidentally got pregnant. At that time, I was very scared of fatherhood, and didn’t even know if she and I were ready to commit. I suggested that she should get an abortion. She wanted the baby, with or without me. So, we decided to get married and dive into having a family. We are happily married and have another child. I love my kids more than life itself, and knocking up my future wife is the best mistake I ever made. But now I live with the knowledge that I had once suggested aborting a fetus who became someone I love and cherish and with whom I want to be honest and authentic. It seems crazy to tell my child that I had suggested he not be brought into this world, but I also find it difficult to live with what has become a burdensome secret. Should I explain to my child what happened and how happy I am his mother didn’t listen to me? I worry that when he’s older he might ask about the timing of our marriage and his birth, and start asking probing questions.

—The Big Reveal?

Dear Reveal,
Surely the vast majority of us were accidents. There are millions of people walking around who are here because Mom and Dad got tipsy, or they were too tired to reach for a condom, etc. You don’t have to tell your son that you initially suggested abortion anymore than you have to tell him what position you and his mother were in when he was conceived. Sure, someday he might do the math on your anniversary and his arrival; what he discovers might not even be of great interest to him. But if he has questions, you tell him the truth: His nascent existence helped you to see that his mother was the woman for you, and so you two decided to tie the knot. You have a wonderful relationship with your son. Confessing your guilt about your understandable desire at the time not to become a father will not make your relationship more honest and authentic. It will instead violate the important principle that some things are best kept private. Your negotiation with your then-girlfriend over her pregnancy is one such private matter. If you need to confess, seek a therapist or a religious figure to discuss this with. It’s time you were relieved of this unnecessary psychological burden. Dumping it on your son is not the way to do it.


Dear Prudence,
I am a woman in my mid-30s, with a supportive and loving husband, a toddler, a baby, and a full-time, fulfilling job. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. But, although I often feel content, I’ve lost the ability to feel the kind of blissful happiness I was capable of feeling in my youth, before kids. I’m seeing a therapist, and she thinks there is nothing wrong with me—that this loss of jubilation is just a fact of growing older and having so much on my plate. My husband disagrees and says he misses the old, more cheerful me. What do you think? Should I break up with my therapist and find someone else to help me find my smile again, or am I just too world-weary for that sort of nonsense?

—Nostalgic for a Happier Version of Me

Dear Nostalgic,
Reading about your wonderful life makes me want to pull the covers over my head and take a long nap. Indeed, you are a lucky woman, and it’s good you appreciate this. This doesn’t mean you aren’t an exhausted woman. You are caring for two small children, you have a full-time job, and you presumably are grocery shopping, preparing meals, ferrying children, attending to your marriage, etc. If you are breast-feeding, you are also being sucked dry! It’s no surprise that you don’t feel the kind of blissful ease that characterized your 20s when you could spend all afternoon in bed making love, then decide on the spur of the moment to meet up with friends and try that new Korean restaurant. I’m not advocating trying to extend one’s 20s into forever. There is a deeper satisfaction that comes from taking on the responsibilities you’re grappling with—seeing your children blossom, your career zoom forward. But it means, for a while, saying farewell to a more spontaneous, carefree version of life, and that’s a loss. First of all, how much sleep are you getting? If you’re chronically sleep deprived, you’re going to be jubilation deprived, too. Second, how much is your husband helping out? If he wants a more cheerful you, let him help you recapture it. That could mean that instead of therapy, you go out once a week with friends. Maybe it means he watches the kids while you get some exercise—exercise is an often-overlooked component of mood regulation. You need to make sure you’re carving time out for yourself. Your life right now sounds dedicated to those who need you at home and work, but you also deserve private space to recharge yourself. It could be that your mood issues are such that medication might be necessary. But I say work at making sure you are attending to the basics by doing necessary and so-called selfish things that bring you pleasure.


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