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Earlier this year, my fiancée and I stayed with some friends, and I realized during a casual conversation that my fiancée had peed in the shower. We had previously joked about my “inability” to do so (I just can’t bring myself to do it, although I understand the convenience), but I didn’t expect she’d do it in someone else’s house. I thought it was rude—what if they didn’t do it themselves? She said they probably were doing it. Admittedly, this ended up being true, and I think I’ve read that lots of people do it and that it’s not actually unsanitary. But I would never do it in someone else’s shower without asking first, and I can’t imagine asking first, so … I guess I just don’t understand.
This keeps coming up, mainly because we told the friends about the argument a few weeks later. They thought it was hilarious and sided with my fiancée. Which is fine! But I still wouldn’t do it in someone else’s shower, even if I felt comfortable doing it at home. So: Is it OK to pee in someone else’s shower? I don’t know why I think this information matters, but it feels like it does: If you looked at us and had to guess which one of us pees in the shower, you would immediately guess me. We know this because in an informal friend survey, I was pinpointed 100 percent of the time.
—Shower or Toilet?
It may not be the worst habit in the world, but urine isn’t exactly “sterile,” and there are some (rare, but real) risks, especially when a shared shower is involved. And I hope you don’t feel like you have to keep canvassing your friends about whether they pee in the shower or think you look like you would. If you find it moving from “funny, ha-ha” to “OK, guys, stop laughing at me,” you don’t have to keep the conversation going, invite further input from others, or apologize for finding the practice slightly unsavory.
Now for my official ruling: It is more polite not to pee in someone else’s shower than it is to pee in someone else’s shower. That’s not a blanket condemnation of anyone who’s ever done it for contingency’s sake or due to a lack of options—simply that the former is clearly more polite than the latter. Unless you have the sort of friendship with your hosts where they regularly say things like, “Hey, feel free to pee in my shower,” in which case, go with God.
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My best friend and I play a tabletop game with a couple, “Ed” and “Roe,” every week. This yearslong tradition has been a godsend, especially during the pandemic, as one of the only “normal” activities we’ve been able to maintain. Ed and Roe have been together for 10 years—but they just broke up out of the blue. The game can only be played with four people. I’m selfishly angry they broke up and ruined our gaming tradition. I know I’m overreacting because of pandemic anxiety, but I can’t help it. I want to invite them both to the next game night. My best friend says that’s an awful idea. How can I handle this delicately while also still preserving the normalcy and tradition of our usual gaming crew?
—Game Night Breakup
It’s always good to be honest with yourself when you know you’re overreacting or displacing one anxiety for another. That’s a solid start! It’s true that you didn’t decide to feel frustrated and thrown out of whack when you heard about this breakup, and it’s OK to privately mourn the loss of a cherished tradition. But please don’t invite both of them to your next game night—if not because it’s insensitive, then because it’s bound to fail. It’s very unlikely that Ed and Roe will say “Sure, sounds great, I’m ready to be friends again” a week after ending a 10-year relationship. Admitting to yourself that you’re not going to get exactly what you want, no matter how frustrated you feel, and no matter how carefully you try to manage it, is the first step toward acceptance and peace.
Since “preserving the normalcy” of your usual gaming crew is unrealistic, a more achievable goal would be to find safe, sustainable ways to play games and connect with friends during a pandemic. In the short term, you can look for some two-person games that you and your best friend can play together. In the long term, you can ask other friends if they’re interested in getting together for a four-person game night, search for a meetup group, or find games to play online. But it’s unreasonable to ask either Ed or Roe to prioritize your game night right now, and you should only get in touch with them if you’re able to offer a listening ear.
My boyfriend and I have been together for 20 years. We’re best friends, and I would be happy to spend the rest of my life with him. While we were dating, I faced up to my sexual abuse history. That childhood abuse and other events led to a suicide attempt three years ago, and I moved in with him. The kicker is that for these past three years we’ve had no sex. I’ve realized that I don’t like it. I’ve always needed alcohol, drugs, or cutting to perform it.
We’re still affectionate, but our lack of sexual intimacy hurts him. He misses it greatly. I see his desires as natural, yet I’m not interested in forcing myself to have sex anymore. I’ve had therapy, and that hasn’t changed how I feel. How do we take care of his needs and desires while respecting mine?
—Sexless in Seattle
You see his desires as “natural,” which is all well and true, but please treat your own desires in the same way. It’s not an either/or situation. When it comes to sex, your desires are not immediately compatible, but that doesn’t make one less normal than the other, nor does it mean compromise is impossible. I hope you can come to see your own feelings as something not merely negative or avoidant but as an active commitment to your autonomy, health, safety, and flourishing.
When it comes to your boyfriend’s needs and desires, it’s really just a question of asking what he wants. Is he interested in having sex with other people? If so, is he interested in doing so often? Occasionally? Does he want to date the people he might sleep with, or is he more interested in hooking up? What shared boundaries and goals might you two agree upon in such an arrangement? Does he find the idea of sleeping with other people distressing or uninviting, and if so, how does he feel about the prospect of a long-term—possibly lifelong—relationship without sexual intimacy? There are no wrong answers here, although some answers may prove painful or difficult, especially at first. If he can’t countenance the idea of staying together without sex, then the best move might be to break up and hope for a friendship further down the line. If he can countenance it, then couples counseling and a frank discussion about the possibility of opening things up will help lay a solid foundation for changing the terms of your relationship. I wish you both the best, whatever the outcome may be.
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The other day my new male roommate left a pair of his underwear on the bathroom floor. I’m also a guy. I have no idea why I did it, but I picked them up and smelled them. Then I masturbated to the smell. Then I felt horrified with myself and wondered what the hell I was thinking. How bad of a violation was this? I feel like such a creep—but also keep getting turned on by the thought of it.
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