Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: “Family, Not Friends”

This week, Jenée Desmond-Harris and Jasmine Guillory discuss a Prudie letter: “Family, Not Friends

Jenée Desmond-Harris: Ok first of all, do you have a vote? Friends or family?

Jasmine Guillory: I feel like there’s so much to parse in this very short letter! But to your question on where I stand, the whole question confuses me! Why does it matter? What is he looking for here?

Jenée: Totally agree.

Jasmine: But also, they may not be your friends, but your wife talks to her sister EVERY SINGLE DAY—she is obviously friends with her sister!

Jenée: And you are obviously not friends with the husband!

Jasmine: Obviously not! Which is fine! But also, I have lots of family members who I love very much and I don’t “go out socially” with and I still think of myself as very close to! What does “just” family mean? I would never put “just” in front of family.

Jenée: That’s such a good point—”just” normally goes in front of “friends.” And really good friends are elevated to “family.”

Jasmine: Yes! That’s so true!

Jenée: I just think this guy wants some kind of validation for spending time with people who he didn’t choose to. And this must be part of a larger competition about who gets to have the most fun, and who sacrifices the most.

Jasmine: Yes, I’m so confused about why this is a debate between them in the first place. Why does it matter? What do you win if someone else says your wife and her sister aren’t friends?

He seems very resentful about the boat and the lake house, that’s for sure.

Jenée: Absolutely.
But at the same time, would he WANT to go? Since they “aren’t friends”?

It’s all very confusing.

Jasmine: OBVIOUSLY he wants to go! Which is so strange because they’re “just family.” Also, there’s the “we” there—do you and your wife have to have the same friends? Do they have to be a couple? Maybe he’s just mad that his wife talks to her sister every day and wants her to stop? Because I would get this if it was like “my wife keeps making me go out with her sister and her sister’s husband but I don’t really like him, please tell her we aren’t friends.” But that’s not what’s happening!

Jenée: Reading a lot into it, I think he wants real guy friends, and he expects his wife to make that happen through couple friends. And that is the core of this conflict.

Jasmine: Yes—women are often the ones who have to make the friends in straight relationships. So does he want his wife to make new “real friends” so he can have some of his own?

Jenée: Honestly, I think that’s it. And it’s not gonna happen because she’s totally fulfilled by her sister!

Jasmine: They talk every day!

Jenée: I get a lot of letters from women wondering how to make friends as an adult, and I like to mention that brilliant friend matchmaking thing you did on Instagram. I have a theory that straight men also need this.

Jasmine: Aww, thank you!

Jenée: But they feel less comfortable asking for it.

Jasmine: Men very definitely need this! And I see women talking about it a lot but never men—is it because men feel like they shouldn’t need friends?

Jenée: I think they like having friends once they have them, but yeah, they might have trouble being vulnerable enough to express a need. And a lot of them DO get their friends though their wife being like, “My friend has a husband and you both watch sports—enjoy your new bestie.”

Jasmine: Yes, I think this is true. The patriarchy is bad for men too! Men, go make some friends!

Jenée: LW, we didn’t exactly settle your spousal debate, but I hope we gave you some material to think about.

Jasmine: Just don’t leave your wife with all of the childcare while you go out and play golf or hang out on boats or whatever with your friends.