S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. Lucky you.
S2: Jeopardize your prudent, prudent approach here, do you think that I should contact him again? No help. Thank thank. Thank you.
S1: Hello and welcome back to The Dear Prudence Show once again, and as always, I am your host, Dear Prudence, also known as Daniel M. Lavery. And with me in the studio this week, this week sure is Jaya Saxena, a staff writer at Etre. Her latest book, Crystal Clear, an essay collection about how humans assigning Meaning and Power to Objects, was published in December with comic books Jiah. Welcome to the show.
S3: Oh, I’m so happy to be here. This tweek, this
S1: motherfucker said Grynch. I also love I realize they did not include this part in your bio, but you said you’re currently a staff writer at Etre and I appreciate the nod to the precarity of being a freelancer where you’re just like, well, we’ll see.
S3: Oh yeah. I mean, I love you’re not a freelancer.
S1: Are not freelancers.
S3: No, no, no. I’m not a freelancer. I’m a staff writer. But I think it’s the nature of media where it’s just sort of like, who knows what tomorrow will hold. You know, none of these things mean anything. I could be out on the streets later.
S1: Some outrageous Ross Perot type is going to buy us tomorrow and sell us for scrap.
S3: Yeah, it’s always, always a fun time over here in media.
S1: It’s a great time. I am very much looking forward to our questions this week. And I just want to prime the audience for the first question by saying it’s about a person who has a problem with a vegan relative and that can be challenging. And I commit to you, my listeners, not to do any of the equally insufferable bullshit that people do. When somebody talks about having a problem with the person who is vegan, which is just like vegans, they’re fill in the blank. I’m not going to match that inseparability with inseparability of my own. We’re going to tackle this problem for real.
S3: Yeah, absolutely.
S1: Without arguing what type of approach to food makes someone the worst, because the good news is, no matter what you eat or don’t eat, you could find a way to be insufferable about it. There is no pure path. So the subject is my vegan sister is becoming insufferable. Dear Prudence, about two years ago, my sister and her partner became vegan. At the time, my sister sighted a lot of junk science about cancer rates and health outcomes, and we argued about it a little. But I let it go because being vegan is good for the environment. She’s happy and she’s an engineer who is, quote, so much smarter than me, a lowly social worker. So she’d never listen to my opinions anyway. Fine. I’m tired of arguing about it, but I also have no interest in becoming vegan myself. Lately, her focus has shifted to animal rights and she’s very aggressive in her arguments with anyone she’s able to bring it up to. She started to reach out to me unsolicited to convince me to go vegan by comparing dairy farming to human slavery and sharing media supposedly created by black women to support her argument, citing, quote, the black community as being OK with the comparison. This is abhorrent to me. I’m angry. She thinks this is OK. Then she called me a speciesist when I told her I didn’t want to talk about it. I’m struggling as a person with a temper how to approach this without recreating the constant cycle of blow up silence, avoidance of the real issue, uneasy peace. That is the history of our relationship. Can I just move to the moon and avoid this conversation forever? Actually, like, kind of, yes, you don’t have to move to the moon, but absolutely you can avoid this.
S3: You don’t have to engage in this conversation. And I understand why it’s tempting to engage in this conversation, because it sounds like the letter writer has a history of sort of resentment over the way conversations go with their sister and that the idea, the line of like, oh, she always knows so much more than me, a lowly social worker, it sounds like whoever she is. Sure. Maybe she’s a bit of a know it all. And that’s been annoying to deal with in varying ways over the years. So, you know, they’re coming to the conversation with that baggage. And then and the great news is you you can throw out that baggage anytime you want.
S1: Yeah. I mean, I think that I’m glad that you challenged or seemed to have challenged the part where she said the entire black community stands with me. Yeah, I do think that’s worth fighting about, mostly because, yeah, any time somebody says, like one person of this race has said something that agrees with me, therefore I’ve got the sign off of the entire population
S3: that’s really fucked up. I know that’s not how those things work. That’s not a thing you can even get. Yeah.
S1: And yeah. And also it is fucked up to compare things that are not like the transatlantic slave trade to the transatlantic slave trade.
S3: And there are plenty of ways to talk about veganism and factory farming and the the way workers are treated in farms and in slaughterhouses and the many, many injustices of our food chain without comparing it to slavery. It can it can be bad in its own way and not in a slavery way.
S1: Yeah. Clearly, the sister in question is not a black woman. My hunch is that she is a white woman. Just to guess, this is not, yeah. Uncommon among a certain type of white vegan. It’s not to say that white vegans are more or less racist than white omnivores, but as a as a tactic, it does tend to smack of whiteness, I think, which is just sort of like, you know, the history of slavery in America is like a neat way to score points in an argument about something else. Yeah. Which is fucked
S3: up. Yeah. And so I think that the letter writer can absolutely and I know it’s hard, but absolutely. Just do whatever they can to not engage in these conversations to say, I’ve told you I don’t want to talk about this and then not talk about it. Hang up the phone, go to another room, talk to someone else, try to change the subject, whatever the situation requires. And, you know, it might be hard and it sounds like maybe it’ll be a while before the sister realizes that this is what’s happening. But, yeah, you do not have to get yourself to a place where you blow up. You you can disengage.
S1: Yeah. And I think part of the reason that my answer here is like, absolutely. Just avoid this. It doesn’t sound like you and your sister have had a very good relationship for a pretty long time. You have maybe never had a very close relationship. And I think sometimes it’s one thing if somebody writes to me and they talk about I used to feel really close to my sibling, I feel really hurt and sad that we seem to have lost that closeness. I want to try to get something back, but this feels a little bit maybe more like I just feel obligated to have these fights with her a lot of the time because you’re supposed to talk to your sister a lot. You can just not like her. You know, you happen to be related. You might have some outstanding affection for her or warmth or whatever, but you can also just say, like, this person’s exhausting. I don’t really like her. I don’t really like the way that she thinks about or talks about her values. And so I’m just not going to give her a lot. You know, if she wants purchase on the mountain face of my psyche, you know, I’m going to go grey rock it. So I think giving her, as you were saying, you know, certainly saying like, I’m not going to fight with you about this anymore or like ending a conversation. You can also just, like, be endlessly banal and cheerful, just like, oh, it’s an interesting point. I’ll think about that. Yeah. Wow, what an interesting point. I’ll give that some thought. What a great point. I’ll give it some thought.
S3: Just relentless. Yeah. I mean, I guess I just like I worry that the sister would take that at face value and not understand maybe the the boredom behind it because you know, I see in this letter this person saying I’m tired of arguing about it because I have no interest in becoming vegan. And it certainly sounds like the sister is spending so much time trying to convince one person to become vegan who’s not going to become vegan. And all of that energy could be better used elsewhere. If you have to try to convince people, you know, there’s other activism work to do. There’s other work that benefits animals and people in the food chain. But, yeah, I think just. Being like I’ve told you, I’m not going to be a vegan. I wish you well and then walk away.
S1: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Something that you can repeat over and over again that doesn’t commit you to anything. So just like really glad this is working out so well for you. Great. Great to hear your thoughts or even simply not responding. You know, if she’s only reaching out to you to be like, here’s a meme about how dairy milk is the devil, just fucking ignore it. Just fucking ignore it. Go ahead. You have my absolute permission to just give her nothing like don’t I think you say especially because you’re a person with a temper, you’re struggling. I think there’s probably a part of you that would feel like I’m going to send her a bunch of like Meems of my own or a ton of arguments of my own or are really like unleash the full force of my anger. And I think just just write her off, you know, I mean, this is an entire human being forever. But just like on this subject, just think of her as like a bug that’s dehumanizing. No. Well, not if you’re a vegan variety, because her whole thing would be to eat the bug with care, which is not an inherently ridiculous person viewpoint.
S3: But again, the idea the idea of, hey, you should care about what happens to animals and the planet is not the wrong. Thing like that, it’s
S1: great that the letter writer doesn’t think that either the way she is going about it is
S3: not helpful to anybody here, not
S1: helpful to anyone, and frankly, does not really appear to honor any of her stated values. It has more to do with making other people like into instruments of her will. But, you know. Yeah, if she calls you a speciesist, obviously, again, she’s your sister. She knows how to press your buttons, but just go like, OK, yeah.
S3: Yeah. You just don’t have to do it.
S1: All right. I’m a speciesist. Fine. You know, if a car was about to hit a human child or an a squirrel, I’d save the child. Yeah. A big, big shrug.
S3: A brand new trolley problem. Yeah.
S1: And I’m sorry because I think the inseparability has been in the works for a while. I don’t think it was veganism that started this. But it’s also clear that she’s found it to be a really satisfying like wedge with which to try to, you know, get at people. And that’s really, really frustrating. And again, that that stuff about slavery is just racist
S3: is what it is. That doesn’t need to be there.
S1: Gross. Let’s move on to our next letter, which I think this is almost a new one for me.
S3: Oh, this one I read and was just like, oh, this is a totally different question than the one that you think you’re asking. Yeah. Anyway, subject pet anxiety. Dear Prudence, my husband wants a pet. I grew up with pets and he didn’t and he feels like he missed out. I don’t want a pet because I know I do not have the emotional strength to deal with their death. And I will know I will spend every waking moment thinking about and panicking about their impending death, just like I did when I was younger and my parents and siblings had pets. I haven’t been able to tell my husband that I don’t want a pet because he’s been so excited. He’s a very social person. So the pandemic has been really hard on him. And this is the first time I’ve seen his eyes light up in months. I love my husband more than anything, but for the sake of my mental health, I will have to file for divorce. If he adopts a pet, how can I tell him I’m not on board? So my first impression there is that this letter writer seems to be acting like spending every waking moment panicking about your pets, impending death is just the nature of pet ownership. And I don’t think it it necessarily is. And I think they’re not just pet anxiety, anxiety, but larger anxiety that maybe needs to be addressed here.
S1: Yeah, yeah. And I don’t want to say, like, you need to treat this as a serious problem so you can go get on medication or see a therapist fix it in six months and then get it right. That’s not what I’m saying, but. You don’t mention letter writer, whether you have ever shared this information with anyone else, like you don’t say whether your friends know about this anxiety, your husband doesn’t know you don’t mention anything about ever seeing a therapist. And what you’re describing is the kind of anxiety, you know, I’ll say disordered anxiety. You know, you’re the thought of owning like a cat or a bird makes you think I love my husband and I will file for divorce if he gets one. That’s and, you know, again, I don’t say that to be like, wow, you’re you’re really messed up. That’s so bad. I just mean, like, that’s that merits a lot of attention, both personal and professional.
S3: That is a strong feeling and that is a strong urge to say, I can’t have a pet because I will be thinking about death for all the years that we have that pet and nothing else that. And I would hope that if the letter writer told their husband that they’re having these feelings that they don’t want a pet because they feel like they’re going to be so preoccupied with death that they won’t be able to function in other ways, I would hope he is sympathetic to that. I would hope he’s open to a deeper conversation and understanding why maybe they need to pump the brakes on getting a pet and talk about some other things first and maybe it’ll down the line result in getting a dog. Maybe it won’t. And and that’s fine either way. But yeah, I think before you even move forward on any of this, you have to tell your husband exactly why you don’t want a pet rather than just I don’t want one.
S1: Yeah. And I think the way to frame this and again, I don’t see any of this in the in the sense of, you know, open the door a little bit and then get yourself better so that you two can eventually get a pet. I’m not saying that at all. You may get help, treatment, care, attention and still feel like I’m not up for pet ownership. That’s not on the table for me. And then, you know, your husband can deal with his own reaction to that. You can talk about your shared disappointments, your conflicting or contradictory interests, and you can work through that. That’s hard and sad, but it’s not like an insurmountable goal necessarily. Yeah, but rather than saying, hey, I just need to know I’m so anxious about pets and pet death that if you get a pet, I will file for divorce. Like the way to frame it would be. I haven’t told you about this. I’m embarrassed. I haven’t told you about this. I haven’t even necessarily until recently realized how bad this is, how serious this is. When I grew up with pets, I was so overwhelmed with fear about their deaths that it was all I could think about. It was constant. It was compulsive. I did not feel like applying willpower made any difference. And it was really distressing. And I haven’t mentioned it because you’ve been so excited and it’s been such a rough year. I want to be there with you. But when I think about getting a pet right now, I get so upset and just feel like kind of torn out of any security, safety or stability that I just panic. I can’t imagine functioning under those conditions. I know I need more help than just telling you about this, but this is where I need to start.
S3: Has anyone told you you’re very good at coming up with scripts? It’s like a reason that you have this job.
S1: I guess you’re so nice to me if you this. Thank you. Yeah. Because again, I think that both makes it clear it’s really, really serious. I need you to know and also I’m not just telling you this, to shut you down and then we just move on with our lives and like we just treat this anxiety is something that can never be tended to or treated, but without also then making any promises like I’m going to go to a therapist and within a year I’m going to get so much better that we will get a pet. You know, the things that you need to communicate are really serious and big for me. I need more care and attention than I have gotten for it previously. So I need to talk to my doctor, talk to a psychiatrist, talk to a therapist, try to learn more about whether or not this obsessive fear of death of pets has ever perhaps translated into a fear of your own mortality or the mortality of the human beings that you love that would maybe will also come up or has also come up and. You know, not like don’t worry, like if you see a therapist for six months, you’ll come to terms with your own death, right.
S3: Or just the idea that like that there is any sort of solution to this or there is any sort of cure that will allow you to have a parakeet like that is not how. Yeah, that’s not the framework here. It’s just, hey, this is something that needs to be prioritized and needs attention if we are even going to have the pet conversation.
S1: Yeah, yeah. And I just like your husband’s not bad for wanting a pet. He didn’t know. You’re also not doing this on purpose. If, you know, you say he’s really social, maybe there will be ways for him to, you know, volunteer as a dog walker once or twice a week. Eventually, once it’s possible to spend more times time indoors, he can maybe volunteer at an animal shelter. There will be ways for him in the meantime to, you know, be around pets, be around animals. And, you know, if for you, the best thing that happens is just you don’t have to carry this alone for the rest of your life, that would still be a huge improvement. Even if you never feel ready to own a pet, you know, your husband can work through his disappointment. You could be sad together, but you wouldn’t be suffering alone. And so that in itself, even if things never get so much better that you feel ready to have a pet, that would be a better outcome for you than just swallowing it down and divorcing him and not telling him why? Because I don’t think he wants that as much as he may want a pet. I really think what he would rather have is for you not to be like and I’m leaving you.
S3: Oh, absolutely. Like, I, I the idea of saying I will have to file for divorce if he adopts a pet. I’m just picturing the scenario where he brings home a cat and then is served with divorce papers. I know it wouldn’t happen exactly like that. But, you know, I’m, I am pretty sure anybody would say, OK, I’ll give the cat back and then can we please talk about this?
S1: You know, certainly I have occasionally heard from couples who do ultimately break up over pets. It’s not unheard of, but it’s not like at this stage of like I want a pet of some kind. I’ve never it’s usually like I’ve had this animal for a really long time and my partner hates it. And, you know, we can’t figure out a compromise.
S3: It’s not the idea of a cat that is going to result in the end of a marriage.
S1: It’s my turn to read our next letter. I also I want to say this, too, at this point, if you’re writing a letter to me, you don’t have to put asterisks after people’s names or quotation marks or a parentheses. Not as well. And I assume you’re all changing names. If you’re not, you should be, because I don’t always do it.
S3: But also generally, I don’t know who you are.
S1: Yeah, I don’t know who you are. So, like, I don’t know, I feel like people make a little extra work for themselves. And I’m like, it is I think at this point, like an accepted convention of the advice column that you’re writing in and you’re like, his name’s not Chip. So yeah, change the names if you haven’t been and don’t tell me or do whatever you want anyways. All right. This next one. Oh, boy, we’re yeah. We’re just going
S3: out into the alley that we’re going up and down like a really hard I’m just like, just don’t do it.
S1: The subject is not our baby. Dear Prudence. My sister in law is 19 and has a nine month old baby, no known father. She has mental health issues that have been compounded from the pregnancy, but she’s also neglectful towards the baby. She ignores the baby for hours, won’t properly feed it, lets it sit and dirty diapers. The minute another person is in the house, my sister in law will dump the baby in their lap and leave sometimes for days. Both my in-laws work low paying jobs and can’t stay home to take care of their grandbaby. My sister in law has no job or schooling to attend. It is a constant struggle because no one will bite the bullet and get the authorities involved. My sister in law will get hysterical and scream that they will take her baby away from her. No one wants that. But the baby is suffering. My mother in law and sister in law cooked up a scheme where my husband and I would take the baby and raise it until my sister in law is, quote, ready. Just a few years of being full time parents, upending our lives and falling in love with this child and then giving them away like a dog. I told my husband that this scheme was sick and I would leave him before considering it. I would be willing to adopt this baby, but his sister would have to sign her legal rights away. I would be the mother, not her. My husband and I told his family that this wasn’t happening without a legal adoption. My sister in law got hysterical again. My sister in law then stormed out of the house and disappeared for three days. My mother in law had to call in sick at work and stay home to take care of the baby. She blames us for this behavior. My husband and I are covering their rent for March. This situation can’t go on. My husband says his family will never forgive us if we call the authorities. I don’t know what else we can do to help. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think I’ll start by trying to articulate my general values in this situation and then trying to assess what I think are some of the least bad options, because I don’t I don’t have yet an exact handle on where I’m going to go. So I’m like getting into my answer in real time. So I’ll start with this. If you decide ultimately that the way that your husband and his family are handling this situation means that you want to leave him. That would make sense to me. That is an option I think you should, you know, not hold it as you’re the thing you were going to do tomorrow, but take that one seriously. This will continue. No, I think no matter what you do, this is going to affect your lives for years to come. And so that’s a serious consideration. And in some ways, if you two do stay together and whatever happens next, there will be ways in which you will be involved in this child’s life and involved in your in-laws lives in ways that you simply might not be prepared to commit to. And that may feel very different from the commitments you were prepared to make when you got married. So hold that one simply not as being like not outside the realm of possibility. Yeah, you know, I would say another thing is simply that calling the authorities by which I assume you mean CPS or some equivalent local child services is not a guarantee that much would happen. Yeah, sometimes they call and things drop off. Sometimes they merely come by and harass you. Sometimes they make your lives worse. Sometimes they remove the kid and put them in state care, and sometimes that can be worse, too. So I don’t want to say either, if you involve the state, nothing will happen. Or if you involve the state, they will take the baby away immediately and the baby will be raised in some like, beautiful ideal home. I’ll simply say that involving the state will put a lot of things even further outside your direct control and that you cannot perfectly guarantee that it will get any of the results that you want or even if it did get the result you want, which it sounds like have the child removed and put up for adoption or foster, you know, you won’t know how that works out. You know, it’s possible that that could make the baby’s life much, much worse.
S3: Yeah, yeah, exactly. That that is not a cure all in this situation. And I and I feel for everybody here because it is really, you know, obviously nobody wants to see this baby suffer. No one wants to see this baby be neglected, but also asking other people to assume the role of part time or full time parent that is asking a lot. And not everybody has the capacity or the willingness to do that. You know, even if they had all the money in the time in the world to parent, you can’t just ask someone to take that on if they don’t want to. I mean, I in reading this letter, it’s so clear that the sister in law is struggling. She’s 19. She is 19. She she has a baby. And, you know, and she has these mental health issues. And it sounds
S1: like PPD maybe.
S3: Yeah, yeah. PPD or PPA, maybe both, whatever. I mean, just is really, really struggling in and in a way that’s causing her to disappear for days. I mean, I think it’s easy sometimes to drop that into a narrative of just negligent and uncaring person. But no, I think this is someone who is having a really hard time, who doesn’t know what to do and doesn’t have much support. And the support being offered, if the support being offered is, well, OK, I’ll support you. But that means, you know, you won’t get to have. Legal guardianship over your child anymore? That’s so hard, that’s such a if that’s your only choice, I can imagine feeling really conflicted and really trapped and confused there. And so, like, my first thought was just try to see if there’s anything else that can be done to support the sister in law. I mean, OK, paying paying rent is great. And I know, you know, money isn’t infinite in our hands, but are there any ways to get, you know, some mental health care, some other child care in here to have maybe a hard conversation with the sister in law saying, hey, what do you need from us? But also you can’t just leave if that is what we are prepared to give you, you know?
S1: Yeah. And I think it’s important to treat your sister in law with compassion for the position that she is in. And I want to assure you, to letter writer, you know, your concerns and frustrations are very real. You are not simply being a busybody or judgmental. So I want to really stress both. I have a lot of compassion for this 19 year old teenager who has a child with no known father, which. You know, I don’t want to read too much into that, but it certainly leaves open the possibility that she was assaulted or raped. She’s clearly struggling. It does not sound like she’s doing this because she’s having a great time. And I also think you should treat her distress and panic at the prospect of losing custody of her child is real rather than simply willfulness or an inability to deal with reality, which may also be present. But but I really think you will be able to make better decisions if you can take her fear at the thought of losing her child as real, that that’s not just her acting out, that that would really cause her grief and pain. At the same time, that does not mean that you have to feel so much compassion for her that you disregard actual harm she may be causing her baby or actual wrong things that you see her doing. So I want to be really careful. The compassion is important not to treat her mental health issues or her youth or her lack of support. Not that people around her are trying. I just mean like there’s not enough money and time and care and expertise to go around right now. You can have compassion for that. And you can also say this is not OK. This needs to change. If we have multiple meetings and conversations as a family about how we can all step in and help, and that’s still not resulting in the baby relatively quickly put in clean clothes and diapers when like they soil themselves is being fed on some sort of regular schedule, then we do need to talk about next steps that’s allowed. That’s allowed. That’s important. You should do that, but it should be done from a position of first try compassion, collaboration, working together. And only if that if you’ve exhausted all of those other opportunities, do you then think about calling in the state. So I don’t want to say, like, don’t ever do it, but I think maybe have as clear and concrete a sense of what would be the things that I think would be worth that risk, that gamble, because they’re absolutely certainly for me, there are situations where I would make that call, even knowing the risks that that call would entail, even knowing that, generally speaking, I do not want the state getting in the business of, like, taking kids there. Still situations where I would say that’s a bargain I got to make today.
S3: Yeah. And I don’t think I have anything else to add to that. I mean, this is just it is not a situation I have any personal experience with. And this sounds so difficult for everybody involved. And, you know, and the the stakes are so high here. It’s just yeah, I really I really feel for this family. And I just hope that everyone obviously prioritizes making sure this baby is not neglected, but also that this young mother is also not neglected and not blamed for things that may be greatly, greatly outside of her control.
S1: Yeah, I think the last thing that I’ll add is I think what you need to do now is you and your husband need to have a separate conversation, just the two of you, and talk through. OK, one thing that is not on the table is this weird, informal semi adoption scheme that, by the way, it doesn’t even sound like your sister in law has consented to.
S3: So absolutely not
S1: bizarre to begin with. But like, they can’t. Yeah, they just they don’t have the ability to say, like, great, we’re just gonna, like, grab the baby one of these days, papa in your house and then, like, hope we can distract the mother for long enough that she. Yeah, no, that’s not a plan. That’s not a workable plan. The whole will adopt her if she signs away. Her legal rights thing I think is also a starter. So you should just scrap both of those and you should consider are we prepared to help in other ways? So I don’t know what your resources are. And again, this may not be a commitment that you would have wanted to make, but it is the position that you’re in. These people are for now your family and this child is in great need. So if you and your husband were able to say, like, it would be hard and stressful, but we are willing to subsidize, you know, mom and dad’s part time work or subsidize their rent so that one of them can stop working and help raise the baby so that she’s never alone. And so someone’s always able there to help. I think in many ways that would be the best possible outcome if that doesn’t seem possible, which it may very well not be, then I think the thing you need to say to your husband is. I am prepared for your family to never forgive us. I am thinking about calling the authorities. I may decide that, like according to my own conscience and my concern for this baby, that that’s what I need to do. And if you do make that decision, I think you should be honest with him. But you should also be prepared for, you know, the family to never forgive you and for that to potentially be the end of your marriage. And again, you know, I would like call a pediatrician, call like contact as many experts in terms of like child care and neglect and get as much information as you can. And I feel bad because I feel like I’m like come up with a spreadsheet of how much neglect you think this child can endure before you’re willing to call CPS. But there’s sometimes situations where it’s like a really very more than imperfect, but like often inconsistent and neglectful parent. Plus additional family support is better than going into foster care. And there are situations where it’s.
S3: It’s not. Yeah. Yeah.
S1: Man, this one is just really sad and really heavy and I’m really sorry, you know, I wish the government could just fucking pay for diapers and, you know, regular child care and mental health support services for new
S3: parents, right? Yeah. This is one of those situations where if child care were free, if health care and getting a child regular pediatric visits were free, and if every parent was given diapers and formula and everything, this would be a totally, totally different conversation. And it’s just so sad that it’s not.
S1: Yeah, but, you know, the thing I mean, the biggest thing is if she’s not properly feeding it, if the baby’s going hours without food, that I think is, you know, you you see, if either the family can treat that like the emergency that it is and come up with ways to make sure that that baby gets fed. And if they can’t, you know, I do think that that would be a point where you would maybe need to decide, like, OK, I’m making the call and I will weather the fallout because that baby needs to fucking eat.
S3: Yeah, absolutely, Mom.
S1: All right, let’s move on to something a little bit a little bit better just because there’s no hungry babies. Got to get that baby some food.
S3: Oh, my God. No, no, no. Yeah, there’s no there’s no hunger here. It’s just emotions and culture. Sleepwalking into marriage. Dear Prudence, I am a young South Asian woman from a conservative family. My family has been putting tremendous pressure on me to meet guys they set me up with and get married. They try to make it clear that they won’t force me to marry someone I don’t want. I don’t want to, but put huge pressure on making me say yes. I got to a point where I avoided their calls for weeks on end. I have never had trouble dating and it’s been a while since I’ve had a long term relationship. A month back, I met a guy they pressured me to see and we had a pretty good time. Theoretically, he’s compatible with me and he’s a kind, interesting guy who seems to be genuinely and to me it feels like we had a few standard good dates and one thing led to another. And I ended up saying a default. Yes. Now everyone’s excited about the wedding and are starting full-blown preparations. It seems everyone but me. I don’t know that I want to marry this guy. I could still end it now, but it would cause a lot of heartbreak for both our families since they’ve already told everyone. I also don’t know if I want to end it. What if he might be the one who got away? Will I be throwing away a solid thing for some more indefinite casual dating? All right. To start off, I will say. If the if the worst thing that happens here is you call off a wedding and your parents and his parents have to make some uncomfortable phone calls, let them. That is not actually a problem. You know, I think maybe there might be some hurt feelings there. People will get over it. That is not a catastrophe, really, in terms of the prospect of maybe marrying someone that you don’t really want to marry. I think on the other hand, right, I think this is then a conversation you need to have with your now fiancee. I was going to
S1: ask I think she’s a good part, like it seems to me like he would be a good person to consult.
S3: Yeah. And, you know, and I definitely as also a South Asian person in my sort of immediate family, there is not really there’s not been much arranged marriage or this sort of modern arranged marriage where it’s like your parents send you out on a date. You go in a couple of dates, you become engaged soon after. But they’re you know, there have been some in in my wider family. And I feel like I always got the message of like, well, the marriage the marriage turned out fine anyway. And so I you know, I don’t think that this is an inherently wrong way to start a marriage or a relationship. And I don’t think that there is no possibility that maybe you get married and you guys have a lovely and fruitful life. But I don’t think the the hope of that should make you ignore any real concerns that you have in the moment that maybe you just did this to get your parents off your back because you want to adhere to tradition because you’re tired of dating. And he seemed fine enough. And I think it’s hard because there’s a lot of gray area in there. Right. Like I and I think that’s what she’s dealing with. Like, she can’t tell if she genuinely likes this guy and has some other hangups about saying yes when she’s resisted this type of relationship for so long or if she she doesn’t. And he’s just a perfectly nice guy that she doesn’t really want to be in a relationship with.
S1: Yeah, yeah. And you know, the last question, would I be throwing away a solid thing for some more indefinite casual dating? You know, that is a big question, and it’s possible that if you said I’m no longer confident about this guy, I want to call this off, that your parents would. In the future attempt to set you up with somebody else, so it’s also possible that there will be more, quote unquote, solid things coming down from them in the future. I there’s also no way of knowing I don’t know if you don’t marry this guy. I don’t know what you might choose to prioritize in your dating life. I don’t know who you might want to date. I don’t know how you would want to approach dating. Certainly, there’s not a guarantee that if you did want to approach a different style of dating, that did not include a lot of family input when it came to choosing who you wanted to go out with, that might be indefinite. It might be casual, it might be open ended, it might not result in marriage. So, you know, I would I would say less that it’s about something solid versus something indefinite versus. Do I really want to commit to this particular yes, with this particular guy in this particular year right now? I think because otherwise you’ll you’ll add, I think, maybe more pressure to yourself, like I am making one and done this definitive decision about whether or not I’m going to participate in this, like culturally and familiarly expected thing, whereas it might feel a little bit easier for you to contemplate saying no if it’s like we’re talking about this particular engagement, which has not yet resulted in a marriage. It doesn’t sound like anyone’s put down a big deposit yet. So now is, I think, the best time to really think about that.
S3: Absolutely. And, you know, she talks about like people are in full blown preparations. So I realize there’s a there’s somewhat of a time limit here. I don’t know where in those preparations they are. But if, you know, if no contracts have been signed about wedding venues, if no other ceremonies have taken place, I think it might also be a difficult conversation. But reasonable to talk to your fiancee first and say, hey, I said yes to this because I was having a really good time dating you. And as he probably knows, like the culture we come from, this is expected to say yes and. I’m not quite sure if I am ready for that yet, but I do still like you and I do still want to spend time with you and see where this goes. I think that’s a I think depending on what everything around this looks like, that is an option because she does seem to genuinely enjoy this person. And I think being able to say, hey, can we if there’s a way that you could just date a little longer or something to give yourself some more confidence, see if you can make that happen. But also that might not be possible depending on what is already in play right now.
S1: I think that’s really good, too, especially because I think, you know, you say so far he seems like a pretty good guy and he likes me. And if you were to say to him, I really like you, I also want more time before we start actually renting out venues. Do you want that, too? That will be a good indicator of whether or not you actually you know, if his response is really bad, if it’s like, nope, make your decision now or don’t or if it’s really like, you know, don’t worry about having doubts. Everybody has doubts. Just ignore them that at that point you may think, OK, this is an indicator that this is not the guy for me. And I actually do need to call in the like, you know, sorry, it’s it’s a no. Yeah.
S3: Yeah, absolutely. Oh, this is hard. But yeah, I think I like your idea of it’s not just here is your opportunity. And if you say no, you are doomed to a life of indefinite casual dating one. I don’t think a life of casual dating is inherently any less fulfilling than a life of marriage. If you say no and you continue dating and and you never get married, you know, maybe there would be times where you wish you got married or maybe you will find that this is exactly the kind of life that you wanted. And there’s no way for you to know that right now. But I don’t think that worrying about every possible future is actually going to help you make the decision right here.
S1: Yeah, I think the last piece of advice that I would suggest to this letter writer is I don’t know if you have many friends of your own age who are in similar positions or who have made a variety of decisions about whether or not they were going to marry somebody that their family had input in from the start or not. But I would encourage you to seek that out. And it may not be something that you are able to ask your current social circle. But if you can try to seek that out in support groups, message boards online, any way that you can try to get insight and advice from people who have been in similar situations, I think that will really help you feel studied and seen and and like the options that that they might suggest to you are are closer within reach than somebody who was just like, wow, that sounds totally unlike anything I’ve ever had to deal with. Good luck. Yeah.
S3: Yeah, absolutely. And I think close to your age is really key there because, you know, anybody is just going to be like, well, I’ve been married to your job for 50 years and everything’s fine. So, yeah, I think that is that’s really good advice.
S1: Yeah. But it is hard. I don’t doubt that, you know, your fear of the heartbreak or, you know, pressure. Let’s maybe go with pressure or disappointment rather than heartbreak. I’m sure that your assessment of that is probably real and that is hard. And one of the things you have to weigh that against is how you might handle going into this with a lot of reservations or a lot of fear or concern that you pressured yourself or were pressured into it. And that is important to, you know.
S3: Yeah, and good luck, you know.
S1: Yeah, I’m glad at least that he’s nice, you know, I’m glad he’s interesting and seems to be into you. That seems at least promising that a conversation with him will go OK.
S3: Yeah, absolutely. No, I mean, I would definitely have much different advice if I just said yes to the next guy my parents set me up with. And I don’t even like him. It sounds like he’s a nice person, that you two have some chemistry and like a genuine good beginning of a relationship. And I really hope he’s open to having some bigger conversations.
S1: Yeah, me too. And good luck. Keep us posted. Jair, thank you so much for bringing your charm and wisdom to all these problems. I wish I could have gotten a question about Krystal’s for you, but I just don’t get enough.
S3: Yeah, I think also people generally, you know, are pretty chill. I would hope that no one is like my husband wants to get a crystal and I want to file for divorce.
S1: Well, you know what I think it is? I think. I think. I think J.P. Brammer gets them all OLAP happy corner, the market crystal questions, absolutely. And I like that they should go to him, but I am super jealous. I think he gets the good crystals.
S3: If you get any crystal questions in the future, straight or gay, give me a call.
S1: I absolutely will. I absolutely will. Do you have any final words of wisdom for anyone, whether or not they happen to have a crystal near them?
S3: Oh, I think, you know, the wisdom that I like of crystals is just, hey, it’s a pretty thing. And sometimes you want to take five minutes to focus on something pretty and that might help everything else going on in your day. And I hope good advice. I hope everyone cooped up in their houses gets to take their little walks, their little outings for the day. And yeah, just, uh,
S1: think about that, because hopefully you get to go someplace that’s a new place. Yeah, that seems great.
S3: I love I love these vague affirmations of our times,
S1: but the veigar, the affirmation, the better. Look at pretty things. Bewell, Jair, thank you so much.
S3: Thank you so much, Danny.
S1: Thanks for listening to Dear Prudence, our producer is Phil Cercas. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton. Don’t miss an episode of the show had to slate dotcom. Dear Prudence, to subscribe and remember, you can always hear more prudence by joining Slate. Plus go to Slate Dotcom. Pretty hard to sign up. If you want me to answer your question, call me and leave a message for zero one three seven one, dear. That’s three three to seven. And you might hear your answer on an episode of the show. You don’t have to use your real name or location, and at your request we can even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short, 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening. And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday. Investigate how much of this has to do with your reaction to fatness? I have a hard time with this because I’m just like it’s not hard to be attracted to a fat lover. Now it’s just now it’s just not like it’s it’s great and you should enjoy it and have a good time. Bodies are great flashes. Great size is great. It’s not hard. And you don’t have to, like, try to convince yourself that it’s somehow more virtuous or it makes you a better person. And, you know, dealing with all the various messages of just like disgust and repulsion that are crammed at people’s heads about fatness kind of from jump is you can’t remove that as a factor, I think. But again, that doesn’t mean just like, say, I’m bad and fat phobic now it’s my job to be a good person and be attracted to him. So I realize these things are slightly in contention. They will not in themselves solve your entire problem. But it’s a start to listen to the rest of that conversation. Join Slate plus now at Slate, dot com forward slash pretty pod.