Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The It’s Still Incest! Edition

Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: daughter–estranged uncle incest.

Nicole: This is so fucked up!!!

Danny: I am so sorry for this LW

Nicole: I mean!

Danny: and also like, I get why “they’re both adults” feels relevant, inasmuch as it means your estranged brother did not assault a child



Danny: but … it’s still incest!

Nicole: and also did not know your daughter as a child, it sounds like?

Danny: incest isn’t automatically fine just because everyone’s an adult!

Nicole: I think I’m supposed to be OK with Consensual Adult Incest but it’s gross. Like, should be legal! Gross.

Especially since I think your brother is doing this TO upset you

Danny: yeah I don’t think we need to put either of them in jail in order to say this is a taboo for some excellent reasons

and again, unless your daughter is 18 years old and just left the convent

I really, really don’t think you need to be so worried about “not saying anything” or protecting her feelings right now

it KIND of sounds like she just … told you? for no real reason?

like, it’s not as if they’re together now

Nicole: Right. Also, we have solved the “should I become unestranged from my brother” question for all time

Danny: just “ha ha, meant to invite him to your birthday party, but we ended up going out for a few weeks instead”

“wild story, right?”



Danny: I think becoming, not estranged necessarily, but temporarily not-in-contact with your daughter is a good idea right now

Nicole: You can have a fight with your daughter over this

I give you permission

But yes: space first

Danny: “This is really hurtful and upsetting. I need some time before I’m ready to talk again.” is a pretty mild response to “Hey Mom, I went out with your brother who hates you”

yeah I mostly want to encourage space because otherwise I think it might be tempting to say a lot of stuff to your daughter that you maybe actually want to say to your brother

Nicole: Yes, indeed.

Danny: but I’ve got to say

if it’s me

I’m not talking to my daughter for … we are probably looking at years

and I *like* my brother!

but I would like him a lot less if he slept with my adult daughter.

Nicole: I would leave the door open with her in case of a fulsome apology

Brother is dead to me

Danny: Which he WOULDN’T, to be clear

Nicole: Your brother is so sweet! So is mine.

They would not do this.

Danny: and I might be able to accept an apology without being ready for coffee

you know?

Nicole: YEP

Danny: “I appreciate the apology, but I still can’t get the image out of my head, so in order to keep from feeling like I’m indefinitely punishing you for something you can’t undo, I’m going to continue taking space from this relationship”

this is a bell you really can’t unring

which is a big part of the reason we don’t sleep with our family members!!!

you should be double booking therapists right now

Nicole: YES

Danny: you have my permission to like … cut people in line and steal parking spots right now

Nicole: Absolutely. Work out some feelings.

Danny: but yes! tell your daughter you are upset and take all the time you need

she knew you were estranged from him! she knew who he was!

she definitely didn’t mistake him for someone else

Nicole: NOPE