Our advice columnists have heard it all over the years. Each Sunday, we dive into the Dear Prudie archives and share a selection of classic letters with our readers. Join Slate Plus for even more advice columns.
I met a celebrity through my volunteer work, and we have flirted ever since we met. I’m young, unattached, and enjoy the occasional one night stand. This man has made it clear he wants to wine and dine me and then take me back to his place, and I’d take him up on the offer—I’m wildly attracted to his intensity and his passion for this cause—except for his tumultuous past. You can’t believe everything you read, but he has a pretty dodgy reputation, and his outbursts have sent him to jail before. He has always been kind to me and the people around me, but it’s also difficult to ignore how poorly he’s treated women in the past. Would I be a bad person if I threw caution to the wind and had a brief fling with this person? I’m not interested in his money, his fame, or having a future with him.
Don’t leave us hanging! Who is it? Charlie Sheen? Mel Gibson? Mike Tyson? You hardly will be the first woman who wanted to throw caution, and her panties, to the wind in order to bed a sexy, bad-boy celebrity. But since you are hesitating, try to project yourself 10 years in the future and weigh whether you would see this fling as a fun memory, or a secret shame. If the former, go get wined and dined, and when it’s time to cap off the evening, make sure your celebrity uses a condom. —Emily Yoffe
From: “Help! I’m Being Pursued by a Celebrity Cad, Should I Sleep With Him?” (Feb. 5, 2013)
I made a reservation at a nice restaurant for my anniversary. Our reservation was for 8:30 p.m. but the hostess said they were running a little behind. After 20 minutes of waiting, a couple walked in behind us and asked for a table. They didn’t have reservations, and the hostess said they were looking at a 45-minute wait. The couple stood behind us discussing options, then five minutes later the hostess said our table was ready. The woman pointed out that she was seven months pregnant and would really appreciate if she could sit before us. I said no because we had a reservation and they did not, then suggested two places across the street that always have seats available. The couple was visibly annoyed and said something under their breath.
Did I do the right thing here? I know to give up seats on buses, spots in a bathroom line, aisle seats on airplanes, etc. for those expecting, but am I really expected to yield my dinner reservation to a pregnant woman when there are options across the street? What is the protocol? Had they made a reservation I would have gladly switched so they could sit a few minutes early, but they were basically asking for our reservation. We were looking at having to wait another 45 minutes.
No, there is no social obligation to give dinner reservations to pregnant women. The reason it’s polite to give one’s seat on the bus to a pregnant woman is because it’s generally understood that people have to take public transit to get to work or doctor’s appointments, and pregnancy makes standing for long periods of time physically uncomfortable. Riding the bus is often unavoidable. The same goes with restroom lines—pregnancy is hard on the bladder and having to urinate is a basic bodily function that needs relatively quick attention. Eating at a specific restaurant does not fall into the same category. This woman and her husband could have either made a reservation, asked to sit down while they waited for an available table, or chosen to eat elsewhere. —Danny M. Lavery
From: “Help! My Maid of Honor Speech Ruined Her Wedding and Might End Our Friendship.” (Aug. 7, 2017)
I am having a rather silly problem with my otherwise wonderful wife. She gets up early every morning before work to go to the gym, and then takes a shower when she gets back to our small one-bedroom apartment. After her shower, she says she gets overheated easily while we’re both getting ready for work. I can understand that—I’ve already showered while she’s gone, she’s been exercising, and then she’s showered, plus she needs to use a blow dryer to style her hair. But her way of dealing with this is to walk around almost naked (in just her bra and underwear) until she absolutely has to get dressed to leave for work. She eats breakfast like this, puts on her makeup this way—she basically just goes about her morning routine with barely any clothes on and sometimes she skips the bra entirely. Under other circumstances, I would enjoy this. But when I’m trying to get myself ready for the day, this is kind of distracting. I find myself getting aroused, and since we’re both trying to get out the door for work, it’s a bad time for sex. But then I get to work and I’m frustrated all day long. I’ve tried raising this issue with her (delicately) and she gets offended that I can’t control myself after we’ve been married for eight years, which I find offensive. She’s the one walking around half-naked. How can I try to resolve this with her peacefully?
Ah, tempus fugit! At this stage in my life, the way I turn off my husband is to walk around naked. This is a sweet dilemma, so it’s too bad you both get so annoyed with each other over the fact that after eight years the sight of your undressed wife bouncing around the apartment is so arousing. I get letters from women wishing that their husbands weren’t lounging around with the family jewels draped over the upholstery (they do not find it a turn-on). But I think yours is the first from a guy who finds his wife’s toilette so distracting he can’t get out the door. But surely, once you’re at the office, you are able to focus on the marketing data and don’t spend the whole day moaning over your morning testicular vasocongestion. If you’re not able to move on and save it for later, you sound very juvenile. Instead of continuing to fight over this, try taking action (not the kind of action that will make you late for work). Buy a pretty, short, sheer robe for your wife and give it to her as a gift. Explain that she’s so damn attractive that if she were a little more covered in the morning it would help you focus on the day ahead. Tell her she of course doesn’t have to wear it, but you know that color looks great on her, and you hope it’s lightweight enough that she can put it on without getting overheated. Let’s hope that she takes your gesture in good spirit and likes the robe. Of course, if it’s silky and sexy, seeing her in it may have the unintended consequence of overheating you. —E.Y.
From: “Help! My Wife Walks Around Naked Because She’s “Overheated,” and It’s Driving Me Crazy.” (April 28, 2014)
I am a bisexual woman who came out about nine months after I started dating my current boyfriend. We’ve been together for over two years, I love him dearly, and we live very happily together. He is very supportive of my identity but is not interested in any sort of open relationship. An open relationship is not ideal for me either, but since I didn’t realize my own bisexuality until after I’d fallen in love with him, I’d been thinking about having a sexual experience with a woman while still staying in my relationship. We talked about it together about a year ago, but nothing’s happened.
At this point in time, I am trying to discover more about my queer identity. I have made some close bisexual friends who have welcomed me into the queer women space. They are lovely and supportive but all single. When I have tried to talk to them about my dilemma (a loving and healthy relationship that does not allow me to explore the physical side of my sexual identity), their advice ranges from vaguely sympathetic to unhelpful. I don’t know how to reconcile with this situation. I don’t want to give up my amazing relationship, but I feel weird in queer spaces. I had a crush recently, and it makes me sad to think I would never have the experience of romantically loving a woman. What should I do? I don’t want to look back at my life and feel regret, but I also don’t want to give up a loving relationship for something completely unknown.
In terms of finding queer community, I think you’ll be best off looking for support groups, events, and activities that actively serve bisexual women, particular bisexual women married to straight men. Many LGBTQ centers have meetings for bisexual married women looking for support after coming out, so see if there are any local to you. If you’re going to a lot of events geared toward out single women looking to date, cruise, or find a girlfriend while what you’re looking for is support for navigating your thus-far-monogamous relationship with a man, you’re not going to be well-served. I want you to find a lot of support and encouragement, and I also hope you can accept that sometimes you may feel weird in queer spaces. That’s not necessarily anyone’s fault or responsibility to correct. (There’s a difference between discomfort and alienation, so if people are rude or dismissive toward you because of your relationship, you have my full permission to either ignore them or tell them off.)
I do not have any advice for you that will guarantee you will not experience regret. All choices involve some sense of loss, even if it’s only the loss of potential. I can’t promise you that if you break up with your boyfriend to explore your bisexuality that you’ll find a woman you love even more than him. I also can’t promise you that you won’t eventually feel stifled in a monogamous relationship with a straight man. You’ll have to be honest with yourself and with him, and find a balance that works for you. You may decide that as much as you love him, you need to leave this relationship for the unknown. You may find a form of limited openness that works for the two of you in your relationship. You may also find that this openness makes you want more than just occasional one-offs with women. You might break up for unrelated reasons. You might stay together until you die. I’m glad that you’ve developed loving and supportive friendships with bisexual women, even if their advice isn’t always helpful. And I hope you can continue to prioritize those friendships but give yourself permission to say, “I’m not looking for advice right now” to them every once in a while. —D.L.
From: “Help! I’m in a Happy Relationship With My Boyfriend, but I Still Want to Date Women.” (May 4, 2019)
More Advice From Dear Prudence
My elderly MIL moved in with us after suffering chronic health problems. Since she came to live with us, I noticed she treats me with hostility every time I am intimate with my husband. Each “morning after” she will either refuse to look at me, make unnecessarily biting comments, or just glare at me when she thinks I’m not looking.