Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Flirtatious Neighbor

Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the flirtatious husband.

Danny: be in a vacuum!!! speak in a vacuum!!


He is likely doing this all over town

Tell him you’re not interested and go get a milkshake

Danny: yeah i think he probably will act stupefied

that’s the next page in the playbook

but who cares!

also his wife is MAYBE naive but it’s also very possible that her calculated naïveté while he says these things in front of her is part of their strategy

Nicole: Also, go to fewer town events, who gives a shit

Danny: yeah this isn’t Pawnee

if some city councilman is miffed because you called him out on his plausibly deniable gross wife-swapping Plinko game

just let him be miffed

Nicole: Lolll

Danny: so both stop hanging out with them

Nicole: RIGHT

Danny: and also just say “I don’t like that, cut it out”

Nicole: More people should say that

Danny: because you know the truth

you know? you both know what he’s doing

Nicole: Yes, do not buy his reaction for a second

Danny: so even if he tries to sputter and say “what on earth do you mean” you both KNOW he knows exactly what he’s doing

Nicole: and it’s one he is VERY used to

Danny: and that can help maintain your calm

and also who cares if he throws you under the bus to his wife?

i get that she’s a fun lady

Nicole: Lotsa fun ladies not married to Creepers

Danny: but if she believes him when his flirtation is this obvious and unwanted

she’s not going to be a good friend for you

also how gross a seduction strategy is this!

Nicole: Blarfghhh

Danny: “hey man … lemme know if your wife finds me creepy”

Nicole: yeah he may actually be looking to swing, based on saying that to her husband

See also: the friendliness of the wife

Danny: RIGHT

and that’s what led me to think that her naïveté might be calculated and part of their whole operation

Nicole: In which case, how nice

Danny: because if he’s doing this in front of her and she’s continuing to smile and be friendly—that’s probably how they do it

Nicole: But pick your partners more carefully


Danny: he tests the boundaries, she offers a patina of safety to the whole thing

EITHER that or he routinely humiliates her by flirting with other women in public and she tries to keep a brave face on


Danny: right! and you REALLY HAVE to make sure other people are open to the idea before you just start hitting on your friends and trying to isolate people from their spouses to say weird things like “let me know if your wife finds me creepy”

Nicole: Someone WILL clock you

Danny: i don’t want to suggest that open marriages are inherently creepy, but hitting on your friends in this fashion is absolutely creepy and a sign that he does not care about other people’s comfort or boundaries

yeah and given that you’ve repeatedly deflected and walked away and he hasn’t stopped

i would like to formally award this dude a Creep label

it’s not an accident, part of the fun of it for him is making women uncomfortable and flustered and feel like they can’t actually call him out on his behavior because he’s married and therefore “can’t be” flirting

go ahead and blandly say “I don’t like it when you flirt with me. Stop” and then just HOLD THE SILENCE

i guarantee you he will FALL APART

it’ll be like Tam Lin

Nicole: Let it hang there

Also please ask her to write back

Danny: “They’ll turn me in your arms, lady,
Into an esk and adder,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I am your bairn’s father.

“They’ll turn me to a bear sae grim,
And then a lion bold,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
And ye shall love your child.

“Again they’ll turn me in your arms
To a red het gand of airn,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I’ll do you nae harm.

“And last they’ll turn me in your arms
Into the burning gleed,
Then throw me into well water,
O throw me in with speed.”

he’ll turn into a snake and a bear and a lion and a burning brand right in front of you, screeching all the while

Nicole: Lololllll

Danny: but his power will be broken when you speak his true name

Nicole: Just give that exact advice

Danny: and good luck to his wife!!! hopefully she either leaves him or decides to stop helping him make other women super uncomfortable