Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: “Jealous FWB”

This week, R. Eric Thomas and Chau Tu discuss a Prudie letter: “Jealous FWB”

R. Eric Thomas: Chau! I’m excited to talk with you about this week’s question. What did you think of our LW, Alice, and the simmering Noah Baumbach movie in the middle of their hookup relationship?

Chau Tu: Hahah! Now I can’t stop imagining Jesse Eisenberg as this LW. My first reaction to this letter was … eeks. I’m glad the LW realizes what he’s feeling is off-base enough to ask for advice, but the line “The cute lady I eat pizza with” made me cringe a billion times over. Did anything catch you right away as you were reading through this?

Eric: Oh definitely. That line, and the fact that the LW concedes he never stopped to consider that Alice might be talented. I suppose we don’t necessarily need to sketch out large inner lives for our hookups, but at the bare minimum we should acknowledge they’re human. It seems Alice has been functioning more as a character in an RPG for the LW than as a person. Do you think Alice might be cognizant of this?

Chau: Right, hookups are hookups, but there’s gotta be some base level of knowing that others operate full lives outside your world? And also, presumably they are carrying half the conversation while you’re chomping on pizza and watching movies.

I did wonder about Alice’s experience, too. I’m sensing she had no idea about this; sharing your writing work can be pretty intimate, even if it is published online, and it feels like she was sharing with him because she was thinking he would appreciate it, not get intimidated and shut down.

Eric: Yeah, that part really makes me sad. As a writer, I understand that sometimes other people’s work can hit you in a vulnerable place unexpectedly. But that’s something we all have to deal with internally. Ideally, Alice’s writing should be a source of excitement for LW.

Chau: Right. I can understand that intimidation can be a self-esteem killer, though, and thereby could make the LW feel less sexy or sexually capable, so I think your advice about shutting off his own brain in this relationship was spot-on. But if Alice is, in fact, human, she’s gonna notice a shift in the LW, right?

Eric: She might, although I wonder how much the LW was tuned in before. It was hard to tell if they had a chill, casual thing that is now getting overcomplicated in the LW’s mind or if he was misreading their whole vibe. Either way, I think you’re right that now Alice might notice something is up.

What do you think of the LW’s last question—is there going back from this?

Chau: I feel like that’s gotta be up to the LW. Maybe he can turn off his brain and keep his intellectual interactions with Alice to a minimum—though again, we don’t know how Alice might intuit or react to that. Or maybe he can learn to sit with this revelation and eventually not let it bother him so much. But it sounds like a big crossroads moment for him.

Eric: Amazing how we humans escalate even the simplest things. Well, thanks for chatting about this letter that’s soon to be a Netflix film starring Greta Gerwig and Adam Driver with me, Chau!