Our advice columnists have heard it all over the years. Each Sunday, we will be diving into the Dear Prudie archives and sharing a selection of classic letters with our readers.
My girlfriend and I have been seeing each other for four months. When we started dating she told me she usually doesn’t go for guys as physically attractive as me, which I found odd. She is very cute but not the hottest girl I’ve dated. Her intelligence, personality, and character are why I’ve fallen for her. Things have been great until the last two weeks when she started becoming more distant and less affectionate toward me. Last weekend she went with her single girlfriends to the Caribbean for a brief vacation. I barely heard from her the week after she got back, but we both have demanding jobs. I ordered flowers to be delivered to her office. She then called me and said she no longer wants to be in a relationship, and that I’m way more attractive then her previous partners. I asked had I done anything wrong and she replied I’ve been perfect. But she said while on vacation she barely missed me. She said she fears if we continue, I’ll find someone better looking, or worse cheat on her like her last boyfriend. I asked her to reconsider since a weekend of no communication is too short a time to make such a huge decision and she agreed. I feel like I am being dumped based on my looks. I don’t want to lose her but I wonder if it’s worth it to get back together if she reconsiders. Do her girlfriends have something do with this? What should I do?
Even though you are gorgeous and attentive and “perfect,” it might simply be that this woman is just not that into you. If that’s the case, neither her quiet contemplation nor your elaborate bouquets will change her mind. It may be that telling you that you’re too handsome for her is nicer than saying you’re too dull. You’re suspicious that her jealous gal pals, while guzzling pina coladas and other witches brews, helped convince her to break up with you. If your girlfriend dumps you, you’ll have your answer to that if over the next few weeks you find yourself “accidentally” running into her eager friends. Your new love acknowledged that she thinks your appeal to women is going to lead to your cheating on her. If that’s a real fear, then she is one of those people who carry around for easy reference binders labeled “Bad Things That Happened to Me Last Time.” That’s an unattractive trait. It’s true that few men would be uncomfortable finding themselves with the best-looking woman in the room on their arm. But I do think some women would be disconcerted by feeling like a drab peahen compared to a more colorful peacock. Let’s say your looks are at the heart of her concern, but she’s willing to try again. You can’t reassure her by permanently wearing a Halloween mask—she has to take the time to learn to trust. But if the girl of your dreams is so distressed by having a great-looking guy be crazy about her, then you may need to be with someone who’s more comfortable with what she sees when she looks in the mirror. —Emily Yoffe
From: Help! My Girlfriend Dumped Me for My Looks—They’re Too Good. (Nov. 1, 2012)
A few days ago a friend sent me the link to a porn video that stars the (recently) ex-girlfriend of a mutual good friend. The video is clearly shot in private, and although it shows her face it doesn’t have her name on it. This girl behaved really badly and completely shattered my friend’s heart, and while I don’t want to believe he would put something like this online, he is so hurt that it’s not outside the realm of possibility. She would lose her job and her career if this video was found, and she comes from a very conservative family. My questions: What are my obligations here? Do I ask my friend about it? Contact the ex? Part of me wished I could forget that I saw it at all.
In my day people took sexy Polaroids of each other then hid them in the sock drawer. After a bad breakup, they took the pictures out of the gym sock and burned them. It’s too bad that one can no longer memorialize one’s hotness with such nonchalance. As my colleague Emily Bazelon recently described, this new plague of revenge porn is ruining lives and there is currently little legal recourse. (California just passed a law making posting such material a misdemeanor.) I talked to expert Danielle Citron, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and author of the forthcoming book, Hate 3.0, about what can be done for this woman. First of all, contact your friend. If indeed he is the perpetrator, you should tell him that you have now seen the video. Tell him you know his ex did him wrong, but he should not compound the wrongdoing by exacting such vicious revenge. Citron says if he posted to a site where he controls his content, he could simply take down the video. Let’s hope it hasn’t been more widely disseminated and that her name hasn’t gotten attached. But if he gave it to a revenge porn website, then unfortunately he’s really lost control of it.
You should also contact the ex-girlfriend. She’s entitled to know the bad news, which has the potential for painful professional and personal consequences. Citron says that if the video was a selfie, the woman would own the copyright. In that case it would be worth it for her to hire a lawyer to write a letter to the site operator where it’s being posted without her permission. But its being taken down is far from assured. If the woman is sure that the images were posted by her ex, Citron laid out other legal avenues she could explore, such as filing a civil claim of infliction of emotional distress or seeking criminal harassment action be taken against him. But Citron notes pursuing a civil lawsuit would be expensive and that law enforcement has taken a lax attitude toward these cases. Sadly, because of technology, people need to be aware when giving sexual photographs or videos of themselves to a paramour that love may die, but the images could live on forever. —EY
From: Help! My Friend May Have Uploaded a Sex Video of His Ex. (Oct. 3, 2013)
I have a wonderfully satisfying job at a small nonprofit organization. I love my co-workers and more importantly the cause we advance and the people whose lives we make better. But recently there was an incident with my boss, “Mr. Johnson.” He’s a great leader and we couldn’t function without him, but he’s also kind of forgetful and seems to always have his head in the clouds. Mr. Johnson frequently neglects to adjust his wardrobe so that his pants zipper is up after using the gentleman’s room. After a meeting we had yesterday it also seem apparent that he doesn’t always wear underwear as his bull escaped from the barn. It wasn’t intentional or sexual in any way, but every time I see my boss I can only think of his privates that didn’t keep so private. I’m not even sure if he noticed it got out when this happened as he didn’t react or seem embarrassed. Should I talk directly to Mr. Johnson about this, or should I report the incident to his supervisor? Or should I just let it go and hope it never happens again?
Oh, yeah, sweet, absent-minded Mr. Johnson is so busy making the world better that he often forgets to keep his johnson in his pants. I have gotten so many letters about nutty people running around nonprofits that I am developing a theory that this field attracts loons because under the guise of doing good, they get to behave badly. Normally when a man realizes he’s forgotten to zip his pants, the humiliation makes him want to secure his fly with a padlock. But there’s Mr. Johnson letting it all hang out day after day, seemingly oblivious. If this guy is really that out of it, I wonder if he has the capacity to be running an organization. Alternately, he may be pretending to be a ding-dong because it’s good cover for exposing his ding-dong. Since this has happened more than once, I think it’s gotten past the point where someone needs to quietly mention, “Dick, your zipper is down.” It’s fair for you to go to a supervisor and say you are too uncomfortable to have this conversation with Mr. Johnson yourself, but he needs to be told that the wardrobe malfunctions must come to an end. —EY
From: Help! My Boss Always “Forgets” to Zip His Fly. (Sept. 18, 2012)
Last week my partner and I went for a much-needed and long-overdue stay at a bed and breakfast in Florida. The day before we left, while lying by the pool I saw the concierge/desk helper let himself into our room. Wondering why, I got up to check and found him wrapped up in our bed sheets and smelling a pillow. I got angry, and he started crying and said we were an attractive couple and that he “just wanted to feel alive again.”
It was awkward and embarrassing, and he said he would never do it again, so I just let it drop and didn’t tell my partner or the proprietor about this. I figured the sheets are their property, and I’d think it was just weird or kind of funny had he just replaced the linens and done that in the laundry room, but in the room itself it felt like a gross violation of our privacy. Plus, if it had been a big chain hotel there’s no question I’d have marched straight to the manager’s office. Should I have told anyone?
I can just imagine the Yelp review you could give this place: “The setting is magnificent, the food sensational. And if you’re looking to find the concierge in your bed, masturbating to the scent you’ve left on the pillows, the Come Again Lodge is the place for you.” Let’s put aside for the moment the pervert in your bed. If I were to stumble upon this scene, I cannot imagine going back to the pool and not saying, “Ah, Dear, you remember that nice guy who checked us in …” This would have become a treasured vacation tale we dined out on for years. However, once we regained our composure, I would have insisted we packed our bags (after carefully checking our underwear) because I would not be able to spend a night at a place where there was a guy with a serious fetish about my bed sheets and a key to my room. You absolutely should have told the proprietor. If you ran a B&B, I assume you’d want to know if you had an employee who felt the aromas of the guests were a form of True Blood. And surely finding the concierge rolling in your sheets would have gotten you comped for the entire vacation.—EY
From: Help! I Caught a Man in My Hotel Room Sniffing My Pillow. (Feb. 24, 2014)
More Dear Prudence
In 2006 I had an abortion. It was the right choice for me at the time, but my problem occurs when acquaintances include me in their conversations about reproductive rights. I often end up nodding along while they discuss the pros and cons of abortion or talking in “hypotheticals,” when in fact my own life is a great example! I think that if these people knew there was “one among them,” they would feel embarrassed by their comments. Is there a graceful way for me to come clean, preferably early on in the conversation? Or should I stay quiet even though I feel like I’m hiding or misrepresenting myself?
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