Dear Prudence

Help! My Friends Keep Revealing My Complaints About My Husband to His Face.

Why do they keep betraying my confidence?

A woman looks worried hanging from a man's shoulder. A silhouette of another woman with a suitcase is beside them.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by 4x6/iStock/Getty Images Plus and Biserka Stojanovic/iStock/Getty Images Plus. 

Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Dear Prudence,

Years ago, I shared inside info with a best friend about my marriage. My husband was taking advantage of me during this time. She (my friend) was a good listener and very empathetic. I hosted a summer holiday which my girlfriend and her husband attended. She lit into him about how she didn’t care for him and confronted his behaviors. I thought she understood the “girlfriend code.” I assumed she knew the things I had shared with her were in confidence, meaning between ME and HER. It was a disaster, and we weren’t as close afterwards.

Fast forward 15 years. A different friend, the same inconsiderate oaf of a husband. I shared info with this friend after me and my husband separated. We were apart for about three years. I never thought they would meet each other. Well, me and my Hubby are back together after that three-year separation, and now my Bestie is coming to my town on a business trip and I am horrified for her to meet my husband because her personality is reminiscent of the former friend. She has even said that she’s going to have a hard time containing her fiery attitude. Should I navigate her location and whereabouts away from my husband while she’s here an entire week? I’ve asked her not to expose me for telling her too much, and she couldn’t promise me she could do it. I don’t want to lose another good friend!

— I’m a Chicken

Dear I’m a Chicken,

You mentioned the “same inconsiderate oaf of a husband” so I think you know this: Your friends aren’t your problem. He is. Nowhere in your letter do I read the words “My friends were both massively overreacting about minor things my husband did.” So I don’t know what exactly took place, but I know it was bad. Really bad. And continues to be bad. I don’t believe you have two uniquely fiery friends. I believe this guy has managed to piss off two different women so much that they feel the need to step in and defend you. And you’re afraid of his reaction if they “expose” you, which tells me he hasn’t improved much and your relationship isn’t any better than it was before. The conversation you need to be having with Bestie is not, “Can you please not confront my husband?” It’s “If I decide to leave him again, is your house a safe place for me to live while I figure things out?” Seriously, this relationship sounds abusive. Please trust your friends and take care of yourself.

Dear Prudence,

My brother-in-law and I have never gotten along; he’s not even nice to my husband, his older brother. But when BIL was going through a rough spot, he reached out to my husband, who vouched for him. And that’s how we allowed him to stay in our apartment for “two weeks” so he could look for a new living situation from somewhere other than his car. Prudence, he overstayed his welcome for many weeks and made the experience unpleasant, with frequent racist and sexist comments. Now he’s out of our house, but BIL simply will not pick up all of his stuff. Three times BIL has come over to get his stuff, and three times nothing much leaves. My small home office is full of his expensive hobby items and his large pieces of furniture, and I am beside myself trying to figure out what to do with it. Any suggestions?

— Not Your Storage Unit

Dear Storage Unit,

“Hi BIL. I need access to my office so please come get the rest of your items by Thursday. If there’s anything you can’t collect or no longer need, I’ll include it in my donation drop-off on Saturday and get you a receipt.”

Dear Prudence,

My forty-something neighbor never shuts her bedroom drapes. She gets home from work early, and I can clearly see her changing from my home office. Sometimes she’ll try on outfits for a half-hour and will even jump up and down on her bed totally naked. On these days especially, I wonder if she’s toying with me. Can she not see me? I’m sitting in plain sight, not hiding.

Also, my neighbor’s sixty-something boyfriend keeps saying how deeply in love they are and how classy she is. The poor sap is obviously insecure, and I don’t have the heart to tell him about the other men. This woman doesn’t even close her drapes at night … even while getting busy with the lights on!

So, here’s my problem: I don’t want my daughter to see. I’m not sure if the neighbor is truly clueless about exposing herself or just pretending to be clueless. Is this a toilet-paper-stuck-to-shoe situation and she needs a friendly heads up or is she a toying exhibitionist? Do I show my wife the naked neighbor? She might be able to help figure out what the neighbor is up to, but this could open a can of worms between my wife, the neighbor, and myself.

Do I discreetly let my neighbor know she’s exposing herself? I checked and I’m at no legal risk, but she could make a scene and play the victimized damsel to protect her classiness and honor, especially if she already feels lacking in these departments. She’s also anorexic and alcoholic so I have concerns about sending her into a tailspin. Do I just shut my mouth, close our blinds, and solve some other mystery?

— Leery in New England

Dear Leery,

Drop a nice thank-you note in her mailbox because you are clearly getting some excitement out of this whole thing! I hope typing all of this out was thrilling. Now review your letter for the correct answer: Close the blinds.

Dear Prudence,

I just went home with my girlfriend to meet her parents and her siblings and their spouses for Thanksgiving. Everything about the trip went well, except one thing that is really bothering me. There was an infant and two puppies in the house when we visited, and my girlfriend called them the exact same pet names she calls me: honey, baby etc. Her siblings did the same with their husbands. I’m not a dog or a 3-month-old. I’m mad, and want her to call me something separate. When I told her, she was weird about it, and has been avoiding pet names ever since. How do I get her on the same page?

— Not Honey

Dear Not Honey,

Let me break this down for you as clearly as possible: Pet names are used to show affection. In addition to having affection for you, your girlfriend has affection for infants and puppies.
Therefore, she uses pet names for you as well as infants and puppies. You are the one who’s being weird here, but congrats on figuring out how to make a holiday introduction to your significant other’s family go wrong in new and creative ways. If she’s not totally over you by now, just let her know what you’d like to be called and move on.

Catch up on this week’s Prudie.

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