Dear Prudence

Help! My Husband Wants Me to Pretend to Be Someone Else We Know During Sex.

I like to dress up, but this gives me pause.

A person's face is partially covered by an illustrated mask.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo byDeagreez/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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.

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have resolved to be more open about our sexual desires after a long “dry spell,” which has really revitalized all aspects of our relationship and made us much happier. We often dress up during sex, which is really fun, but recently he confessed a desire that gave me pause. He wants me to dress up as a casual acquaintance of ours. He wants to call me her name and for me to wear a very particular kind of clothing she wears. I’m not sure what to think. It’s kind of gross, and also suggests he’d rather be sleeping with her. Then again, maybe I should be glad he’s not and he’s making do with what he’s got (me). What should I do?

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Of course it sounds to you as if he’d rather be sleeping with her. But I don’t think it means that. I think it means that with this new fantasy-play in your marriage, he gets to act out sleeping with other people while sleeping with you. But your letter expresses the downside of making manifest the erotic tapes we run in our own heads. It’s one thing for you two to pretend to, say, meet at a bar as strangers and pick each other up. But it’s a little dangerous for your husband to ask you to be someone else in your social orbit. Unsurprisingly, this has left you disconcerted. You can tell him this bothers you—for the obvious reasons—but you’re going to give it a try. It may be that you surprise yourself at how much fun it is to be “Darlene” for a night. Alternately, you can tell him that his fantasy is crashing into your reality, and you just can’t get into pretending to be someone you both see, and whom you now know he’d like to sleep with. —Emily Yoffe

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From: “Help! During Sex My Husband Wants Me to Dress Up as Someone We Know.” (Sept. 1, 2015)

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I hired his 19-year-old nephew to help us with our small business; he stole over $4,000 in petty cash from us over the past year. Our accountant uncovered this and our security tapes proved it. My sister-in-law paid us the money back so we wouldn’t file criminal charges. Her son excused his actions by saying we paid him poorly and he didn’t think we would notice.

He put my husband and me as a work reference after we fired him. I have been in contact with several potential employers; I was honest and told them he stole from us and could not be trusted with a position handling cash. Some of this got back to my sister-in-law, who accused me of “sabotaging” her son. He “paid” his dues and I countered she paid them and nothing in his behavior before or since shows any remorse. I am not going to lie for a thief. It would be unethical for me to not warn future employers about the reality of what they are getting. Now my sister-in-law is screeching to high heaven about me trying to “ruin” her son. My husband is ready to throw his hands up in the air. I don’t think I am doing anything wrong. If he weren’t my nephew, he would be in jail now. Should I keep being honest or just say no comment when these people call? My nephew has no work experience but us.

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Your nephew needs to stop listing the two of you as references! I get that you’re his only work experience, but if his options are “apply for jobs as an inexperienced 19-year-old” versus “apply for jobs where my only references explain that I stole from them,” then clearly the better choice is to leave you off the résumé. For someone with the nerve to casually steal $4,000 under a security camera, he is astonishingly naïve. That said, your nephew didn’t write to me for advice; you did. It’s interesting that your sister-in-law blamed you rather than her brother for something the two of you did together (namely, told the truth). I think before he throws up his hands, the two of you should have one last talk with her together. “Ozymandias needs to stop listing us as references. We will not lie when people ask us directly about our experience, so he cannot list us as people who can recommend him professionally.” If your SIL interjects with “But how will he find a job without your references?” or any variation thereof, you have only to say, “I don’t know. Ozymandias will have to figure that out.” —Danny M. Lavery

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From: “Help! My Nephew Stole $4,000 From My Business. Now He Wants a Good Reference.” (May 6, 2019)

Dear Prudence,

I discovered my 13-year-old daughter has been reading fan fiction for a very popular all boy band which describes in explicit detail sex acts between the male band members. I immediately instituted parental control and blocked the sites. We had a brief talk—need a longer one, but I’m not sure what to say? This can’t be good for her at 13—reading about explicit sex between ANY two people. Am I overreacting?

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I remember the thrilling times at my friend Paula’s house when I was about your daughter’s age when Paula would abscond with her father’s Playboy as soon as it hit the mail slot, surgically remove it from its plain brown wrapper, and we would gleefully laugh over every page. You may have put parental controls on her reading, but I assume she has friends, and will simply swallow these unexpurgated tales of male bonding at their houses. Your discovery is the kind of thing that does call for a talk, but first you have to both gather yourself and find your sense of humor. Tell her you love that she’s doing extracurricular reading, but you were really surprised by the kind of thing that is found in fan fiction. Then let her respond. Sure, depending on your relationship and her level of comfort, she might not have anything to say. But you want to express that while you understand the appeal of such naughty books, you thought them too sexually explicit for her. The issue here is not your ability to censor everything she takes in—you can’t do it—but to express your own standards and leave open a space for her to come to you with her questions and concerns. And I’m guessing that the writers of this series didn’t think their most avid fans would be teenage girls! —E.Y.

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From: “Help! My 13-Year-Old Daughter Has Been Reading Pornographic Fan Fiction.” (Sept. 8, 2014)

Dear Prudence,

I am 39, looking for the love of my life after a hard couple of years. My mother recently died of an aggressive form of cancer, and I only recently got back on my feet after a bout of unemployment. Last year, I found a marvelous job and finally met, through a dating app, a special person from another country about a three-hour flight from me. We coincide so much that we both tend to believe the other is the One, yet we still have not managed to meet in person as sudden changes in both of our jobs made us fight every day and postpone the meeting for months. We had plans to meet this summer; meanwhile, I lost my job, his is uncertain, and two months ago I suffered a ligament injury that has left me in a wheelchair for months. I am told it is all temporary, although it may take six or more months before I’m fully recovered. This news is very recent, and I would appreciate your advice on how best to give it to him as I don’t want to lose the love of my life. Yet, I fear this new postponing would be the end of it, as both of us really were living with the idea we were meeting in a week or two this summer, but I don’t think I will be in a condition to as I have to rest fully, mainly in bed. How can I best approach this?

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I’m so sorry for how painful the last few years have sounded, and I hope I don’t sound callous to what you’ve been going through when I say it doesn’t sound like there is much hope for this relationship. You two haven’t even met, but you’re already fighting on a daily basis. That’s not a good sign, to put it very mildly. I understand that the initial connection was exhilarating, and that you’re very motivated to call this man the love of your life after all the pain you’ve experienced, but if he really were, the news that you had been recently injured would not be enough to sever your connection. Tell him the truth—that you’re hurt, in a wheelchair, and looking at six months or more of physical therapy before you’ve recovered. If he understands. and is willing to wait, maybe the two of you can explore whatever this is when the time is right. If he’s not, and all you lose is the chance to fight with someone you’ve never met on a daily basis, perhaps you’re better off. —D.L.

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From: “Help! I’ve Finally Found the Love of My Life, but We Haven’t Met in Person.” (Aug. 16, 2016)

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