Dear Prudence

Help! My Boss Doesn’t Know All His Personal DMs Are Linked to the Company Account.

Should I ignore it?

A woman looks at her phone with a shocked expression. An illustrated "send" icon and exclamation point appear behind her head.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by CarlosDavid.org/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,

I recently moved to a new country after graduating college and was lucky enough to get a marketing job (my field of study) in an exciting industry. One of my responsibilities is managing our social media accounts. The company Instagram account is somehow connected to my boss’s personal account, which results in me getting notifications from his direct messages. Although it’s never incriminatingly sexually explicit, I’ve recently seen messages with multiple women talking about sex. This is in a different language, so some of this could be going over my head, but there are frequently flirty messages, talk of sex, and talk of having sex. This whole situation is complicated by the fact that my boss is in a relationship with one of my co-workers. I work with both of them closely. I also consider both of them friends, and friends are hard to come by as a young professional in a new country. If I were my boss’s significant other, I know I would want to be told about these kinds of messages. Should I ignore it? Discreetly advise my boss that I can see his personal messages? Flee the country?

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I don’t know if HR departments are common in your new country, but if they are, I think I’d go there in addition to vaguely flagging the issue to your boss: “We need to set up a company-only Instagram account because as long as it’s linked with yours, I continue to receive direct messages intended for Boss’ personal account.” I’m a little worried that anyone who’s clumsy and unprofessional enough to link his work account with the Instagram he uses to cheat on his girlfriend might also try to retaliate if you speak up, so I want you to have as much professional cover as possible. But I certainly think you should say something. This is ridiculous. —Danny M. Lavery

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From: “Help! My Boss Doesn’t Realize That I Can See All of His Sexy DMs.” (Nov. 12, 2019)

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have been married for six years and together for 10. He was a creative director with a good income when we got engaged but once we got married we decided he would work on finishing his movie script. He hasn’t worked since and the script has little chance of ever making money. I was diagnosed with infertility five years ago and we have not had success with treatment or private adoption. I have my master’s degree and a good job. But with one income, and living in a high cost area, we are always struggling and can’t even afford health insurance. I love my husband, he understands me and encourages me to be creative, fun, inspired, and authentic. I married him because he is fearless in his artistry and living with him makes me feel as if everything is ahead of us. However, I have considered leaving him for all the obvious reasons: his having no real work ethic and my feeling used. Recently things were terrible at work because of a merger, and I was coming home crying. To my shock my husband suggested he put the script away, we move out of state to be near his family where the cost of living is lower, he find a job, and we could adopt. I was thrilled! We started looking, and I have been offered a good job with fewer hours, great benefits, but significantly less pay. He hasn’t found anything although he’s not looking hard. Then things calmed down at my current job and I may have an opportunity for exciting advancement. I have to accept or deny the job offer very soon and I don’t know what to do.

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Thank you for this important corrective to the notion that all those with a passion should chuck the dull 9 to 5 and follow their muse. We read stories of people who sell their novel for a million bucks, or turn a cupcake recipe into an empire. Of course, it doesn’t make sense to write a profile of the guy whose been noodling over a script for more than half a decade and is a hopeless leech. If your husband had a story in him, he would have gotten up early, stayed up late, and spent weekends writing it, while still employed. A goal of five pages a week would have produced a script in less than a year. It’s notable that upon marrying you, and locking in your income, he took to the couch with the remote and hasn’t been motivated since. You say he’s a fearless artist; I say he’s made an art of being a bum. You now have an opportunity at your current job you can’t pass up—and it had better come with good health insurance and more money. You’re going to need the cash because when you file for divorce, you’ll have to settle up with your husband. You say he makes you feel everything is still ahead of you. If you stay with him, I can promise that what’s ahead is more wasted years like those already behind. —Emily Yoffe

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From: “Help! My Husband’s Spent Our Entire Marriage Writing a Screenplay. Should I Leave Him?” (Nov. 6, 2014)

Dear Prudence,

I’m a 30-year-old woman who returned from a stint abroad last year. I lived in a remote town in a developing country and there I met a local man and fell in love. We dated and lived together for almost two years while I was in his country. I didn’t tell anyone in my immediate family about the relationship because I know they wouldn’t have approved. This man asked me to marry him about a month before I left the country and I never gave him an answer. Since I’ve been back we talk every day and I’ve visited him once. We discussed at length him coming to live with me in my country, but I can’t bring myself to do the visa paperwork, which would require us getting married. He has been saving money with the intention of coming here, but it’s not a large sum given the salary where he is from. The biggest obstacle I have in moving the relationship forward is fear of putting myself in a bad situation. He is 40 years old, only finished the ninth grade, and doesn’t speak the primary language where I live. I’m not sure he could get a job and I’m not ready to support him for the time it would take for him to pick up the language and find something in my country. I have never met anyone as loving and genuine as him, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. Should I take a huge leap of faith or end the relationship?

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I’m a little more worried about this guy putting himself in a bad position. He’s saving up money to take a huge risk, but you’re not sure you’re actually willing to fill out the visa paperwork, haven’t told your family about him, and have offered him total radio silence on his proposal—not even “I’m not sure what my answer is. I need some time to think about it.” If you are not prepared to support him for a move that seems pretty likely to result in at least medium-term unemployment, have no intention of telling your family that you two are even dating, and aren’t able to have a conversation with him about your concerns about getting married, I think the kindest thing to do at this point is let him know you’re not prepared to commit to him, and go your separate ways. —D.L.

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From: “Help! The Man I Love Wants to Move to Another Country for Me. I Don’t Know If It’s Worth It.” (Jan. 6, 2020)

Dear Prudence,

A few months ago, in order to spice up our sex lives, I persuaded my wife of four years to try swinging. I searched online and found an ordinary-looking couple I thought would suit us to begin with. We met, had dinner, went to a hotel, and swapped partners. I am a fit, fairly good-looking, well-endowed man. I was surprised and dismayed when the other man, who is older, somewhat overweight, and balding, undressed. He was way larger than me, and for two hours I had to watch him work my wife into multiple fits, screams, and moans. Since this experience (which we have not repeated), I haven’t been able to look at my wife in the same way. I cannot get that night out of my mind. It’s affecting my work and ability to be happy. Sometimes I feel I could just punch my wife in the face. I want a divorce. The few friends I have confided in about this say that I am being unfair, but I cannot see how I could possibly be content in my marriage ever again. Is there a way I can overcome this?

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Next time you consider swinging, choose your new partners more carefully. You’re looking for an advertisement that says something like, “She’s svelte, stacked, and sexy. He’s fat, bald, hung like a gnat, and suffering from erectile dysfunction.” How sweet for your wife, whom you coerced into this, that the male member of your “ordinary couple” ended up being an oversized piston. Perhaps you watched her having the best sex of her life while neglecting your own duties. Possibly your wife was putting on something of a show just to yank your chain. Now you want to divorce her, after first giving her a sucker punch. If you feel you’re actually a danger to your wife, you need to tell her and move out for her safety. You sound like quite a prize, and since you’ve obviously been behaving abominably since your encounter, I hope your wife has already tied up the services of the best divorce lawyer in town. However, if both of you want to salvage your marriage, you need the help of a mental health professional. You’ve fallen into an obsessive spiral that’s destroying you. You need medication, or meditation, or some intervention to get your thoughts back on track. Whether or not your wife is willing to rebuild your marriage, you owe her an apology. Tell her that you made a dreadful mistake and you hate that you pressured her to have sex with another man. Then take a look at Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the eagle, which is a nice summary of the consequences of getting what you wished for. —E.Y.

From: “I regret becoming a swinger.” (Aug. 4, 2011)

More Advice From Dear Prudence

My boyfriend of eight months wants to hire an ex as his cleaning lady. We don’t live together. They dated briefly and have remained friendly.

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