Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Concerned older brother: My younger sister (24) is super frustrated that she can’t get a boyfriend after a bad breakup with her ex around the start of the pandemic last year.
How do I tell her to cool it with her boyfriend obsession?
A: I don’t think it’s your place to tell her to cool it. Being boy-crazy or relationship-obsessed happens, especially when women have absorbed the message that they’re not as valuable when they’re single. That’s a deeply ingrained idea and is not something you’ll be able to undo with a lecture. Or, who knows, this might just be a phase that she needs to go through.
Either way, nothing you would say would help—she’d just roll her eyes and turn back to the apps. But if the underlying concern here is that her desperation is causing her to miss out on enjoying this time in her life, you can probably help with that. Pay attention to her non-boyfriend interests, and see if you can get into a project, trip, activity, or sport with her. Remind her—by the way you treat her, the respect you show her, and the fun you have together—that she’s great and can enjoy life exactly the way she is.
I’ve been friends with a guy “Jake” for about 10 years, since college. When I first met him he was about 100 pounds overweight and kept gaining. A couple of years ago his dad died of a heart attack, and his brother had some heart issues too. It was a wake-up call, and Jake started a diet and exercise program. Now he’s smoking hot. Like I said, we’ve been friends for years, and a few times he wanted to try dating, but I always said no. He was a nice guy, but the weight was really unattractive. So now he is hot, and I really want to date him. Is there any way I can go for this without coming off as shallow?