Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)
My cousin’s daughter is getting married in November. We’re not particularly close, and I don’t believe I would have been invited if this were a formal, in-person wedding. Due to the current pandemic, however, the entire event is occurring on-line and the guest list appears to number in the thousands. The happy couple have published an extensive gift registry, with the cheapest items starting at about $200, and have sent a series of mass emails expressing their excitement that we’ll all get to share on their special day, with glossy images of their lives together. I have to confess that I feel a little mean-spirited about the whole affair, as this feels more like an aggressive marketing campaign to maximize the return on investment than a family celebration. Is there a polite way to quietly disengage? Would it be rude to not send a gift (and to RSVP that I can’t make it)? My cousin is notorious for holding grudges and will almost certainly kick up a fuss.
— The Bride Wore Brass
Dear Bride Wore Brass,
Skip it. Both the ceremony and the gift. I say this because:
1) Nobody—not even someone who’s having a massive Zoom wedding as a scam to save money while collecting expensive presents—wants guests who are judging them or don’t want the best for them to watch them take their vows.
2) With thousands of guests, you will not be missed.
3) If your cousin is a grudge-holder and you dislike her daughter so much that her wedding is making you feel mean-spirited, it sounds like you don’t have much to lose even if they do kick up a fuss that damages your relationship.
I am a 15-year-old female (she/her/sometimes they?) struggling with mental illnesses (anxiety and ED). On top of that, I’ve recently taken some time to myself, and I’ve figured out that I’m also bisexual. The only issue with that is my parents. I live in a fairly homophobic, conservative household. I am also a Christian. Should I come out? This is a major part of me, but my fear is that they’ll put me in even more counseling than I’m already in. On the flip side, my parents have been very clear that I’m loved no matter what I do, and my lesbian aunt is still in the picture. But, the only reason for that is because my mom cares more about relationships than making everything right. This stresses me out, and I’m scared of just … giving up. What should I do?
— Overwhelmed and Bi
I don’t think you should come out until you’re absolutely ready, and until you’re confident that your parents won’t put you in a form of counseling that will ultimately be harmful to you. But you’re only 15, and I know you could use some help deciding when the time is right.
Your aunt is the perfect person to talk to about this. She’s known your parents for longer than you have and probably has some insight on how they truly feel and how they might treat you if you were to come out to them. Give her a call, ask her to keep it confidential, and see what she thinks. Good luck!
When I was a little kid, I experienced some trauma. I buried my feelings and tried to never talk about it, because I just wanted to be “normal” and not make everybody feel weird. While most of my friends know what happened, they know I’m very private about it, and have even mentioned they don’t know what to say if it does come up. Decades later, I think I’m ready to be a little more open with my closest friends. How do I tell my friends that I think I do want to talk about it once in a while, and how do I stop worrying they’re going to distance themselves from me if I do?
— Post-Traumatic Stressing
Not all friends are great at discussing difficult, painful topics. And some of your friends have already told you they’re unsure how to respond when you bring up your experiences. This doesn’t mean they’re bad people or don’t care about you—this stuff is hard, and people who know the perfect thing to say are the exception, not the rule. I mention all that to say, I think the first step after digging up your feelings should be sharing them with a professional. You deserve feedback from someone who knows what they’re doing and can give you the compassion and insight you deserve. You want to get to a place where you feel solid and confident enough that if you don’t get the response you’d hoped from your friends, your healing won’t be derailed—and where you know for sure that anyone who distances themself from you because of what you’ve been through isn’t someone you want in your life.
You’ll be ready to share when you are well aware that they might, despite having the best intentions, respond clumsily, or say something that minimizes your feelings or doesn’t feel like it honors what you’ve been through. Think: “You’re so strong!” or “focus on the positive ” or “my cousin actually went through something worse, let me tell you about it …”
So after processing everything with a counselor, when you feel a bit less nervous and vulnerable, ask your friends if they’re open to talking about it, and say a little about what you would like in return. For example, “I just need someone to listen” or “Every once in a while I need to be reminded that it wasn’t my fault.”
More Advice From Pay Dirt
I have in my possession some family heirlooms. My brother is saying that he should be given some of them, even though he has already been given quite a few. He has a child that may or may not be his, whom he has nothing to do with. He wants to pass them down to his second wife’s grandchildren. I have children of my own. I also currently have eight grandchildren. All of mine are direct family links. In giving him everything he wants, it would not leave much to pass down to my own. I have always been told to pass the heirlooms down to family members. Am I wrong in not wanting to give more to my brother?