The “Abortion Support” Edition

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S1: Slate plus members, it’s survey time again, which means it’s your chance to tell us what you think about Slate Plus and Slate in general. It’ll only take a few minutes and you can find it at Slate Dotcom Survey.

S2: Your freedom, your prudence, your prudence, epitome of prudent here, pretty, and you think that I should contact him again? No help. Thank thank. Thank you.

S3: Hello and welcome back to the Dear Prudence podcast once again, and as always, I’m your host, Dear Prudence, also known as Daniel M. Lavery. And with me in the studio this week is Karen Kehoe, a business and economics reporter for Quartz based in New York City. She’s been published in Time GQ Glamour, Vox, Toronto Life, The San Francisco Chronicle, the Columbia Journalism Review and the new critically acclaimed true crime anthology, Unspeakable Acts. Karen, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me. I’m so glad that you’re here. I’m so glad that you have abided my lateness. And I say no small talk. I don’t I don’t care how you’re doing and I don’t want you to know how I’m doing. Let’s just start answering questions. Let’s do it. I do care about how you’re doing, but we can talk about that later on our own time. So the subject of our first letter is, should I pay for my son’s girlfriend’s abortion? Getting started with a bang? Dear Prudence, I am a divorced father to four young adults. My 17 year old is the most irresponsible of all my children. He loses his keys, wallet, license, phone multiple times a week. He, quote, forgets to get gas and runs out of gas at least once a month. I’ve tried to help him with these things, but he’s very apathetic about it. As a result, when he is at my house, he doesn’t get the same privileges as his siblings. I don’t let him have his girlfriend over unsupervised or let him stay the night at her house, even though I allow this with my other children. The final straw was when I walked in on them having unprotected sex in the dining room. I have bought him condoms, which he does not use. When I try to discuss being consistent and helping him become more responsible, she says that he will be eighteen in a few months and there’s nothing we can do and after that the military can straighten him out. It’s still came as a surprise when his mother called me and told me his girlfriend was pregnant. She’s waiting until after the holidays to decide if she will have the baby or have an abortion. My ex-wife made it clear that I’m expected to pay for the abortion should you choose to have it, because it’s not covered on her insurance and her parents can’t afford it. I have refused. I’m tired of bailing my son out. I want him to step up and handle it. I think he can easily get a seasonal job and make enough money in a month to pay for it. Two of his uncles have offered him seasonal employment at their companies. He and his mother scoff at this because of the pandemic, ignoring the fact that our area has a low transmission rate and also that his three siblings all have jobs. I told my ex-wife she could pay for it, but she said she doesn’t have the money because she’s going on her annual ski trip after Christmas. I love my son and my heart breaks that he and his girlfriend have to make such a difficult choice. But I think I’m making the right decision. I don’t want her to have a baby she doesn’t want because she can’t afford an abortion. But I also don’t want to bail my son out once again. What do you think? Can I just say I had almost the whole time the Lake Lucille Bluth clip of like it’s an abortion. Michael, what could it cost? Ten dollars in my head.

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S4: I had so much to cover in this. Like, I think like in terms of this is one of those things also where it’s like you could pay for the abortion and have them work it off. Right. Like it’s something that you want to deal with sooner rather than later because of possible complications. Then there’s also availability like this assumes that like they live in a state where the clinics are still open, it’s accessible, you know, they don’t require.

S3: And, of course, that she decides to have one right here in the letter. I think one thing that’s really missing is the very real possibility that your son’s girlfriend might not decide to get an abortion, at which point, you know, the question of money is only going to get more serious, because if he doesn’t have the money or the interest in working for three weeks somewhere seasonal to get the money for an abortion, he definitely doesn’t have baby money.

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S4: There’s also not an acknowledgement of the clear favoritism of the other siblings. And the mistreatment may be contributing to the the behavior of this sibling or this this child.

S3: I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call that mistreatment. I think I would be like, look, I bought him condoms and then he had unprotected sex on my dining room table. Yeah, his girlfriend’s not allowed to come over anymore. That, to me, feels like actually an age appropriate consequence for a 17 year old rather than, like, clear favoritism. But I also don’t want to come out and say like this. This letter writer must have been like dad of the year. Like I there’s obviously a lot of water under the bridge here. But, yeah, I think the real question which which is the important one to get to is just what’s going to happen with this one abortion. And if there is an abortion and then, you know, you can get back to figuring out how you’re going to relate to your kid for the rest of your life. To me, this feels like he’s 17. If they do make the decision that they want to get the abortion, it’s going to be money well spent, even if you are frustrated that your son’s not doing the things that you want him to do. But I also understand why you want to draw the line somewhere. And I think to that end, I would encourage you to go to abortion funds dog. There’s a national listing of various abortion funds which are in place for similar situations. You know, somebody who wants an abortion but can’t afford it. That might be one resource you could point them towards. Do you think, Karen, that like so far, the letter writer seems to only have talked to his kids mom about this? Do you think there needs to be a conversation with the kid?

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S4: Yeah. You know, in your experience, a lot of these letters are really about larger topics that are not spoken about in the letters themselves. And it’s really about like a multi year fractured relationship in terms of communication between the son and the father. And I’m really wondering, like if it just wasn’t a conversation about like. Future and what he had planned for, even if he was interested in the military or what he wanted to do after high school and, you know, having that conversation, that larger conversation about the future maybe would have helped prevent this pregnancy from happening. But I think it’s also just about. Is there a psychologically safe space in a relationship for them to have that conversation, or is he is there someone else in his life as the parent for him to talk to somebody, maybe like a trusted uncle and to be the proxy for that relationship instead and that conversation? Yeah, yeah.

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S3: I think that probably the first thing that I would suggest to the letter writer once he’s had a little time to like get through some of the first waves of his frustration, which I think some of them are understandable. And I think the next move is to call your son. And I think to the best of your ability, don’t try to, like, get on his case. But just say, like your mom told me, that you and your girlfriend are pregnant. How are you doing? What are you thinking? What do you want? And not in a way that’s sort of like tell me your game plan in the next five minutes or I’m going to tell you you’re not allowed to, like, make your own decisions, but genuinely ask, like, what’s going on. Like, I imagine that he and his girlfriend have at least discussed it a little bit. Does he have any thoughts? Like maybe he’ll say, I kind of want to have this baby, at which point you might really disagree with him. But that would be important information, I think, because if neither of them actually want an abortion, then you can’t push for one.

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S5: He might say, I have a strategy or I have a plan. Like he may very well not be saying the exact same things that your ex-wife is saying. And so that’s why I think that’s an important conversation to have. You don’t have to promise to pay for it. I do think that it might be if they both want it and your ex-wife is not willing to contribute to the fund and they can’t get it through an abortion fund and you’re the only thing kind of standing in between them and not getting it. I think there’s a case to be made for he’s under 18. This is a one time only thing I need to figure out a better strategy for not paying for stuff in the future. But this feels like a pretty important one off. I think that’s possible.

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S3: But, yeah, I guess what I mostly mean by this is this one possible abortion is not going to be the make or break moment of deciding when to start cutting off your son financially. I think you can make a decision about this abortion. That does not necessarily mean you’re committing to paying for his stuff for the rest of his life. Does that seem true?

S4: I think so. But it’s also just about like a. There seems to be a lot that’s unwritten about what happened before this sort of turning point in their relationship and the decision regarding how much money needs to be spent. I’m also thinking regarding the forgetfulness. If there’s something like ADHD or something undiagnosed. You know, I I remember personally people wondering why I was always losing stuff and then finding out later on that I had a neuro divergent condition, you know, like it might not be intentional. And so that’s one of the things that can lead to a lot of frustration. But a lot of people who find out very later in life, they’re always told by their parents, like, why can’t you just stop losing stuff? And that can be really frustrating. But that’s a separate issue that I think going back to what you were saying, this does not have to be the moment in which the parent decides how the scope of which they’re going to financially support their kid into the future.

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S3: Yeah. And whether or not there’s something else underlying some of your son’s irresponsibility is probably a question for another day. You’re allowed to both be frustrated by that irresponsibility and also possibly open your mind to the possibility that it’s not simply malingering. But again, a lot of this just feels like you don’t have to solve that right now, that the question of like if your 17 year old kid and his girlfriend need to have an abortion and you’re the only thing kind of standing in between them and getting it, I would encourage you to just do it. But you also do not have to. And you can just send them the link to the abortion fund and say, good luck finding funding. You know, you might have a little maybe you wouldn’t have a hard time sleeping at night. I would feel a little bit tricky about that.

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S1: Would you read our next letter?

S4: So the subject line is waiting, but guilty. Dear Prudence, I’ve been wavering on whether to break up with my boyfriend for months now.

S6: The issue is that we both work at the same nature reserve and live on site. He got a new job elsewhere and I’ll take over his job here when he leaves. I’m terrified to break up with him before he leaves because I know that he won’t give me any more training. He’s a good guy, but he tends to react with a lot of anger and resentment, even to small, reasonable things like me wanting to spend an evening with other friends. So I’m sure a breakup will be awful this time at this reserve has been extended by the pandemic, but he’s finally leaving in the spring. Am I a terrible person for waiting to break up with him until he leaves? I hate dishonesty, but I fear the breakup fallout more.

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S7: Oh, I think calling someone a good guy and then saying that, like the description immediately after description is like right after saying he’s a good guy.

S6: But the description regarding his behavior is. Was the first big warning sign for me in this letter.

S3: Yeah, same here, my my read there was like the letter writer has gotten so used to having to say that because they depend on this guy for like job training and presumably either living together or living in the same isolated area. So they kind of can’t let themselves go mentally. Yet to the place of this guy is not good, but he’s not a good guy. This guy is a bad guy.

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S6: That part feels very straightforward to me, especially during a pandemic, to sort of be in constant fear regarding anger and resentment to small, reasonable things like spending an evening with other people is really you know, that is that is a frightening sign in terms of survival. And so I would say to the letter, I know you are not a terrible person for your consideration. I think a lot of people, unfortunately, have dealt with similar situations in workplaces. And then I think. Having values like honesty is important, but also safety is really important as well.

S3: Yeah, I wanted to be really careful in what I advise this letter writer because I want them mostly just to stay safe and take care of themselves. And so I think waiting to break up until the spring makes a lot of sense to me. But I also want to acknowledge that this does not sound like this sounds like a relationship where the possibility of physical abuse could come up pretty quickly. To me, this feels like we’re we’re getting close to that point. And so I also want the letter writer to feel like they can think through what are my other options, either in terms of like. Reporting my concerns to our superiors and asking to be moved so that I do not have to worry, that I will be endangering myself professionally or even physically if I break up with my boyfriends, if you don’t believe that your management would be useful to you in that, I get that. And then I would maybe encourage you to talk to one or two trusted friends so that you can get just ongoing support and a and a strategy for how you’re going to do it, how you’re going to keep yourself safe afterwards, how you’ll make sure that he can’t get in touch with you and try to harass you. All of that will be really crucial, maybe even to call the domestic violence hotline, which I realize you don’t say that he has been hurting you physically. And so part of you might feel like, oh, that I don’t want to be dramatic or I don’t want to. I just I just want you to know, letter writer, you would not be being dramatic for thinking practically anybody who like makes you terrified to break up. And who freaks out when you want to spend an evening alone with friends is somebody who’s cruising towards abusiveness at a pretty rapid clip.

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S8: I think also like documentation can be helpful. It’s it can be stressful in terms of like if you’re living with this person, like figuring out a way to keep that documentation safe and private. But I think it can be reassuring in terms of highlighting how your reaction and and the letter writers assessment of the situation is accurate, that they’re not being unreasonable. And also, you know, in terms of for protection, because you’re both working together, if he tries to professionally retaliate at your job once he leaves, that can be really, really important.

S3: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point to think about this. Yes. In the immediate term, you will be safer breaking up with him once he’s out of your physical range. But, yeah, absolutely. Take into account the very real possibility that he will try to take your professional career in the future. And you don’t have, like, a great strategy for, like, how to make sure he can’t do that. But at least you can give yourself some time to strategize and think ahead. And anything else you think for this letter writer, Karen, any other like professional resources or personal resources you want this person to be able to think of?

S8: I think I think it’s important to continue to rely on that friend group for support because they will continue to be in that person’s life after this person leaves. So in terms of that consistency right now, I think for a lot of people during the pandemic and and what’s gone on, figuring out what can be consistent and routine is really important. And they will be able to tell you that to the letter writer, that they’re not a terrible person for this decision.

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S1: I think my last thought here is just pay attention to your fear around your partner. You don’t say that because I want to, like, increase your sense of fear. But I really especially because you’re in an isolated nature reserve and you both live on site. You say you’re terrified of this man. Trust your terror. If you think you need to hide something from him for your own safety, you probably do. This does not sound to me like a situation where you are out of touch with reality or like you are unfairly reacting to something. It sounds like this man has kind of made it his business to terrorize you and to make you feel like you can’t leave him. And so if anything just feels like I can’t share this with him, I can’t disclose this to him, I need to wait. I need to do something to make things easy in the short term so I can get out. I want you to do that. Pay attention to the part of you that scared that part of you is wise and will help keep you safe. And so we will now kind of on the subject of, like, when to pay attention to emotional energy, I feel like that’s a kind of useful Segway for our next letter, which is fortunately, alas, it’s not a crisis situation in the same way, which is a relief, but the subject is emotional energy match up. Dear Prudence, my wife and I are in our mid 30s, married for a year and together for five. She’s always had much bigger feelings than I have and it’s one of the reasons I love her. I’m even keeled. She brings some balance to the household emotions during the pandemic and the subsequent close quarters. She’s been getting frustrated that I don’t dedicate the emotional energy she does to things that upset her. If something is important, I will always be there for her and she’s aware of that. But I can’t get myself worked up over Kappler even as a helping to clean it up. This turns into a feedback loop. The calmer I am about it, the more she thinks that I’m not honoring her feelings. Of course, telling a frustrated person just calm down is never helpful. But I feel like allowing myself to get worked up over things I find minor wouldn’t be a good use of my energy either. She disagrees and thinks that if it’s important to her, it should be important to me. I’ve tried using words to logic this out with her, but that’s been a wash. What can I do? I wish, Kiran, that we’d gotten a little bit more detail about the things that do upset her, because I wonder, is it really just cat barf like is that the only is it always on that level of just like. Frustration like household frustrations, or is there something else going on? Did you get a sense there if he was being a little dismissive or if that was just maybe the level that these conflicts where we’re at?

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S9: I agree on that. I think sometimes also what people are upset about, it’s not really the thing that they’re upset about. There’s there could be something behind the scenes that manifests in things like cat barf. And in terms of honoring her feelings. I’m concerned that it’s really about a larger communication issue where she doesn’t feel heard and respected or understood. And so it’s manifesting in this way. I think also there could be something about. The differences in terms of. She’s it says that she’s been getting frustrated about emotional energy and it may be larger issues that she feels she feels that affect her much more this year, even the fact that she is a woman, they’re both in their mid thirties. I know that men and women have totally different mindsets regarding the possibility of having kids or where they are in their career or the isolation that they feel those kinds of topics. I really agree with you. I wish there was more to this letter, more details. I feel like there’s. It’s the letter writer is talking around something else.

S3: Yeah, and I think that’s probably why, you know, I’ve tried using words to logic this out, but it hasn’t worked. Like, I think that’s an approach that’s not going to serve you really, really well, in part because, like, part of the problem here is that you are always even keeled. And so attempting to stay like, let’s just be reasonable. Let’s not let our feelings get the better of us. Let’s just like logic this out like it’s a math puzzle is going to, I think, exacerbate the problem rather than address it. And that’s not to say that you have to, like, jump up and down and weep or scream and shout in order to get somewhere with her.

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S5: But it does mean that simple, like cold, calm, rational enlightenment era discussion is not going to be what gets you somewhere real with your wife. So, yeah, I think one opportunity here is to say to your wife, like, I love you so much. And one of the things that’s been hard about this for me is I feel like if I’m there for you in a moment when you feel frustrated, I do something to help. But we don’t feel the same way about it. It feels like that hurts and upsets you.

S3: And I don’t know if I can change much about my emotional response to things, but I wonder if there’s something that I’m missing in terms of is there something else that you feel like I don’t notice things until you tell me? Do you feel like you have to delegate a lot of things around the House that you wish we took like mutual ownership over? Because that’s something that I do wonder about here is like because the cat barf was the only clue. I was wondering, like maybe she feels like now that you two are both home a lot, she still has to take on like the majority of the burden of like keeping the House humming, which is now also more work since your home more and you don’t value it in the same way. Or you have to wait to be told or instructed or given a job. And what she wants is more of a partner and less of a first mate. I’ve never been on a ship, so I don’t know if maybe a first mate is kind of like a partner. I apologize for my aquatic metaphors. Again, that’s possible. I don’t I don’t feel a sense that that’s definitely what’s going on here. But I think the thing to do is to say I don’t think it’s that you want us to feel exactly the same way. But maybe maybe it is just that you wish I got upset occasionally more often. And if so, I would like to know that so I could talk to you about it. Like, what do you feel like is missing in those moments? Does it feel like I’m kind of rubbing your face in something? Does it feel like I’m being withholding? Because like, here’s what it feels like for me, which is just like cat threw up. That happens. I’m going to do what I can to fix it. But I’m not trying to make you feel bad about your own reaction either. And then, you know, depending on what she says, maybe it’s a problem you can get to the bottom of relatively quickly. Maybe this other bigger things going on in the background that will take longer to address. But I really think here you have to go back and not try to say, let’s logic this out. I think you have to go back and say, like, am I missing something? And then listen with an open mind.

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S8: I’ve also found that sometimes there is the mindset of they they want to help by presenting a solution. And sometimes people just want to rant and feel like the other person is just listening and open to being as upset as they are. And but like just presenting a solution right away is not helpful to the other person. And then so I find that asking the other person, like, what would be most helpful right now? And sometimes this person might feel like they feel silly for trying to follow that, but then the other person would feel really hurt and respected. Even if that person doesn’t necessarily agree. It’s like, do you want me to provide a solution? Do you want me to rant? You want me to grab a pillow so that you can punch it? You know, like what are the what are the ways that would be most helpful for you? It’s not about me right now.

S3: Yeah. And then beyond that, because I think we’ve mostly spent this question on the side of what can the letter writer do to be more present for his wife? I also want to leave open the possibility if you have that conversation and she really just is like I get anxious and agitated a lot. And when you don’t, that freaks me out. Letter writer at that point, I want you to really feel free to draw the line and just say, like, I will help you, but I am not going to mirror my feelings to match yours. And if that’s really, really hard for you, we’re going to need to find another solution for those difficult feelings. That’s not just like get me to feel what you feel because that’s not something I can do for you. And there I would want you to feel a ton of permission and freedom to just hold that line, because super reasonable thing to say. I can’t do that for you, but I can I can relate to both parts of this letter. I can definitely relate to you. I’ve been in moments of relationships where I felt like this is so serious and how can you not feel the exact same way about it? That I do. And like, do you even know me? And then other times I’m just like, why are you so agitated? Oh, you know, Mary, Mary, you’re worried about many things. But Martha, I mixed up Mary and Martha, you know what I mean? I feel like Jesus being a dick about the dishes where he’s just like, why are you so stressed out? Just don’t care. I know that’s not exactly the point of that verse, but that’s always how I’ve experienced it. Shall I read the next one, please? Yes, thank you. Thank you from saving. Thank you for saving me from that danger.

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S9: So the subject line is martyred. Mother, Dear Prudence, my mom brought me and my siblings up as a single parent, leaning on me heavily for emotional support. It’s not all in the past. There’s a hell of a lot of tension and treading on eggshells around her. Challenging her on anything leads to her playing the single parent card and shutting down any discussion, I mostly keep my distance and see her on her terms while understanding will never have the kind of parent child relationship I want. This summer, my mum visited me at home and my younger sister joined us for the day. My sister has been in therapy and over the last year has understandably decided to call her on things that I’ve bitten my tongue about. I’m used to protecting my siblings that way. It led to a giant angry argument where my sister and I told her things we’ve always kept to ourselves, see, either stayed silent or lashed out. I asked her to go to therapy and she said to wise up and understand that she could tell me some things, too, if I wanted to do that. I wasn’t ready to talk about the stuff, but now my mom says she doesn’t remember and doesn’t understand why I’m being cruel and not wanting to talk to her. She’s agreed to therapy because she wants a loving relationship with her children again, and I am exhausted by this, I don’t think I’m ever going to get her to understand the pain she’s caused. And I’ve worked to make myself OK with that. But now that it’s all out in the open, I can’t go back to bite my tongue and keeping my distance without some resolution, I just don’t know what to do.

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S3: I really felt this one future. Are you familiar with that sense of like, OK, this works as long as we never talk about it.

S8: And then as soon as someone talks about you, like, well, that echoes I feel a lot for the letter writer because I think I feel the burden that the letter writer has and the feeling that and the feeling of helplessness. And so I really felt that this was an opportunity for us to provide real guidance on giving them permission also, you know, to set really clear boundaries and take care of themselves for the first time instead of prioritizing the protection of their siblings. And I think it’s OK to acknowledge that no one is really ready to talk about this like a very rare group. And and it’s OK. It’s reasonable to feel hurt that the mom says that she doesn’t remember or doesn’t understand why the letter writer is reluctant to talk to her and also frustration that the response to. The suggestion to go to therapy like that’s reasonable, being exhausted by it and not really understanding. It’s for the mums benefit. It’s not just like so so reading this. And then also feeling like I, I definitely can relate to. Wondering if a parent will understand the pain that they’ve caused or an older role model individual, but it’s it’s it’s also I think we are taught so much about seeking resolution, and it’s really hard to sometimes realize that some things never really feel totally resolved, like in the movies, you know, you just it just sort of it gets it gets easier to live with.

S3: Yeah. I think really my my suggestion for the letter writer here is go to therapy by yourself. I think there’s a lot of help that therapy could do you in terms of like your mother really reversing and a lot of ways the parent child relationship when you were young and putting you in the position of having to be an adult and to offer her adult level support in a way that has really shaped the person that you are and often, I think, probably made your childhood a very difficult one. And I think you deserve the chance to talk about that and think about that and work through some of that without your siblings or your mother there so that you don’t feel either an obligation to protect them or to reassure her. I think you need, first and foremost a place to start to sound really cheesy. But like you got to be able to explore the space. You’ve got to be able to say things that you’ve never said before. You got to be able to say things you think. I don’t know if I could ever say that to any of my relatives. You’ve got to be able to say things without editing yourself first. And I think where your mother is that right now, you know, I don’t remember this. You’re being cruel. I’m lashing out. I guess I’ll go to therapy. But, you know, it’ll just be because I’ve got a few things I could say about, like, she clearly sees this as not like you’ve been deeply hurt by an element of your childhood that we never talked about honestly. And now you’re trying to be honest with me. She’s like, oh, you’re just trying to hurt me. Well, I’ll hurt you right back. And that is not an approach that is going to make for useful or productive therapy. So I would say go by yourself. Do not start going to therapy with your mom right now.

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S5: She is not anywhere near ready and. When it comes to. Then the question of like trying to manage her relationship with your siblings, do you think that’s something where the letter writer can or should try to intervene? Or do you think that’s an instance of a place where they can scale back right now?

S8: I think it really depends on there. Like, we don’t get a lot of details beyond the fact that the sister has also gone to therapy. Like you could start off by saying, like, oh, you’re going to therapy. It seems to be helping you like figuring out the things that you can talk about in terms of that relationship. And I think also I also want to remind the letter writer. Despite what we are taught, it’s OK. Do not want to talk to your parents for different periods of time, because even as even if you have a single parent. And by going back to the war, what your point about the other siblings, it really depends on the relationship they have. We don’t get a lot of details about that in terms of the letter writers relationship with the other siblings. And that can vary based on responsibilities for child care or their careers or all sorts of stuff. But I think yeah, I think the thing about it is it’s really a case by case basis for that.

S3: Yeah. And I wondered if something that was also going on here was kind of a sense of like. A sense of I can’t believe I’ve been biting my tongue all these years and then my siblings are the ones who initiated this confrontation with my mom and whether a part of you might feel a certain sense of resentment if, like, I had something that worked for me and then my siblings decided to call mom out on something that I’ve bit my tongue over and that kind of sense of like, well, that fucks up my plan. And that doesn’t mean that your siblings were wrong to talk about what happened to them in their childhood. I just think that that would be a really understandable response from your perspective. And again, therapy might be a helpful place to work some of that out. You certainly can’t control whether or how your mother and your siblings relate to one another going forward. And so I think if you have some clarity of, like, I can’t go back to the way things used to be, and I also know that I’m not ready for therapy with my mother, the intuitive next step to me would be therapy by myself.

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S5: Figure out what I want, what I need, what I don’t want, how to respond to manipulative tactics. And then you can maybe revisit the possibility a few months down the road. I think that’s what I got for this one. I’m sorry. Good luck. Our next letter. I will read the subject is feeling foolish, Dear Prudence, I met my now estranged husband on the Internet. I’m 10 years older than him and have no children. He is an immigrant to this country. It was a whirlwind romance and about a year we were married. I guess everyone else knew about these kinds of marriages, but I didn’t. I thought we were going to spend the rest of our lives together. To make a long story short, he stopped going out with me. We argued all the time he made our sex life feel like he was raping me and he moved out as soon as his relatives moved in. I felt like a fool. Sorry. As soon as his relatives moved here, I felt like a fool. I thought my heart would break into pieces. He would occasionally call and ask me out. And after a year I started talking to him again. He keeps telling me how sorry he is for hurting me and wants to stop by sometime. Am I being a fool again? Do I need therapy? I want to answer those two questions very, very separately, because they felt like the way they were put together, the implication was like, if I need a therapy, it must be because I’ve been stupid. And I think the literates is just being really, really hard on herself over something that just sounds devastating. I don’t know exactly what you mean by he made our sex life feel like he was raping me, but that sounds pretty traumatic. And I don’t think you are foolish for being hurt by that. So if you are thinking about the possibility of going to therapy, I think that’s a really good idea. And I want that for you. But not because you’re an idiot for having loved your husband or having been hurt by the ways in which he abruptly changed the way that he treated you. That’s on him, not on you. He did something really cruel. You didn’t do something really stupid. You married a man that you loved, you’d known for a year. I get that. That’s like fast. But I wouldn’t I wouldn’t quite call that a whirlwind. I would say a whirlwind for, like, met and married in six months. I don’t know why that was the thing that felt so important to focus on.

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S9: I think the therapy would be mostly about a situation where the letter writer went into it with good faith and they were betrayed and taken advantage of in a really manipulative fashion. That’s very clear. Like I think the thing about feeling like someone is a fool is saying, well, when you put these facts, you know, I feel really silly and almost irrational for talking to them again. And I think the thing about it is I want to go back to the feeling of like everybody wants the redemption story. We want to feel like the people who have hurt us can do better and have learned from their mistakes. But I think the thing about it is reminding the letter writer that they were hurt in a really horrible fashion. And the thing about it is I want to remind the letter writer that they deserve that they deserve really fair treatment, they deserve better treatment, and they deserve basic respect. They should not. Like like that’s that sex life line was really, really hard to read because nobody says that without something really traumatic happening. Yeah, and I think the thing about it is, like you said, I think therapy is important for a lot of different things, but not necessarily because someone feels like a fool. And those those two questions are very separate and people are not foolish for going into situations and in good faith and being taken advantage of.

S5: Yeah. Yeah, I, I agree with all of that. I don’t think, letter writer that you should trust him. I don’t think that you should meet up with him, but I don’t think that you’re foolish for being tempted by that. I really, really understand this man you thought you were spend the rest of your life with him. He devastated you and he left and now he’s here apologizing. And part of you wants to heal that pain. And so part of you thinks, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could somehow reconcile and all of that could be forgotten? I don’t believe that you can trust him based on what you have written here, but that does not mean that you are foolish to hope. I think what it means is that it’s time to start reaching out to other people. And I don’t you don’t say anything about how much of this you’ve shared with your own friends and family. If you have many people in your life that you could turn to about this kind of thing. But I would really urge you to share this with other people whose judgment you trust and who know, you know, care about you, because if he’s kind of the only person you’re getting that sort of attention or closeness from and you feel like you can’t share it with other people, then it will be that much harder to say no to him because you’ll just feel like. But this is my only opportunity for this kind of intimacy.

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S8: So our last question is one that is actually really timely about the future and thinking about to follow up on the previous one and the subject line is Heart Hurts and it opens with Dear Prudence. My boyfriend of three years broke up with me a year ago. I thought our relationship was wonderful. We spent weekends and vacations together. I never had to open a door and we loved each other’s company. I was having some personal issues with my parents deaths and some health problems, he never mentioned the way I handled things. In fact, there was no communication from him at all, which made me think everything was OK. I finally got the nerve to ask him what our relationship and marriage he stated that he didn’t see how it would work because he lives in the country and I live in the city. He completely stopped calling and answering calls or texts. After about a week, he sent me a text saying, I’m sorry, I’m not the guy you want me to be. Along with the John Prine song, I wish you the Best. It was horrible. To this day, I have not tried to contact him, but think of him every day and wish we would have worked on our relationship instead of just throwing it away. My brother told me not to contact him for fear of me getting hurt even more. I also found out that he continues to text my girls to keep in touch, which also hurts. I feel like I lost the most wonderful man in the world. And the rejection is excruciating. I’m fifty three heartbroken and worried about the future and being alone. Any advice to help me move on and why he did what he did would be helpful?

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S3: What do you think? If you like advice, columnists always say, like, I can’t speculate. I don’t know why. Let’s try. What do you think? He did it.

S7: He liked being casual. He was like, this is a cool thing on the weekends and on vacations. You know, you didn’t you had you got to have like a weekend. It was a part time relationship. Yeah. Three years had a lot of small issues. Yeah. It’s just like you didn’t. And and and then it was like responsibility, like health problems.

S8: And there was no mention of like you took care of me while you had the health problems. He didn’t attend the funerals of the parents that he opened doors.

S1: That’s nice.

S8: Like that’s a very low level of chivalry when you look even historically. And then also I have dated people who I dated a father like a son of one of the reasons we was well, we broke up because he realized that I was I was always going to be a city person and I wasn’t going to move to his organic farm and bake pies and have babies. As my sister said. It’s like that’s a fundamental thing about just like it’s as fundamental as like one person wants to have children and one person doesn’t. Right. And also that thing about communication, just like that, was a big red flag. The fact that there was the assumption that everything was OK, that, you know, this person wanted to be the letter writer, wanted to become more serious and the the country person boyfriend did not. And there’s no indication about the age. But I think this person was just not mature enough to be in a relationship they didn’t have the cab light on is the great metaphor that I heard.

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S3: Yes. Yes. Thank you for. Thank you. I do like to drop a little Sex in the City every couple of episodes. And so I’m glad that we got the chance today. Yeah, I think so too. He said nothing. And that to me suggests that he didn’t want to fight about it. He just wanted it to go away. And then when it didn’t, he was like, I’m out of here once you it sounds like letter writer. Once you realized that that was what was going on, you asked him. So, you know, I wouldn’t necessarily say like, oh, you should really change the way you act in future relationships and check in all the time. But certainly I think it can be helpful to think of like no conflict and no conversations, not necessarily an indicator that everything’s great. Maybe it’s an opportunity to say, like, how are things? Not that that always works either, because sometimes he will just say fine and then then it’s not.

S5: But you can only do the best you can. And yeah, I mean, just like John Prine. Man, that’s embarrassing. This is like several different Sex and the City breakups, too. Now that you mention that, like it’s very close to the Post-it note of just like. I’m sorry, I can’t. Don’t hate me. Yeah, I get that. I get that. You feel like if only we had worked on it a little bit, we could have made progress. And that’s the thing that you keep getting stuck on and thinking like if only if only if only to which the answer is just. He did not want to he didn’t want to fight. He didn’t want to go through conflict. He didn’t want to try. He wanted things to be pretty easy and smooth. And then when they weren’t, he wanted to not be with you.

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S8: I would encourage the writer to tell. The female friends not to communicate with this person.

S1: You know, I felt like my girls wasn’t like I thought I was like her kids.

S7: Oh, even worse. Like a female friend.

S3: Yeah. No, though they would be sweet, but I feel like friends would have been pretty quickly like, no, fuck off.

S5: But kids who might have thought of him as a sort of like relative might still want to hear from him, which is tricky, but like. We’ll save that one for later. I think the thing now is just like, you know, I feel like I lost the most wonderful man in the world, the most wonderful man in the world, does not suddenly, like, stop talking to you when your parents get when your parents die and you get sick. The most wonderful man in the world, like brings you soup and helps you plan the funeral and holds your hands and like, lets you cry on his shoulder. Right. Like, the most wonderful man in the world doesn’t kind of like, vanish when you’re when you experience grief.

S8: In fact, there should be more communication during those periods, like because it can be really lonely and isolating. The fact that there was less communication during that time is is not an indication of somebody who is the most wonderful man in the world at all.

S3: Yeah. And I get that that doesn’t change the part of you. That’s like the rejection is excruciating. I get that that’s the really salient issue. But it might help to start getting mad and to start thinking about some of the things he did not do well, rather than thinking of him as like the one that got away, because man or man, the most wonderful man in the world, does not send you a fucking John Prine song to say, sorry, I vanished from the face of the earth when you got sick and didn’t feel like dealing with it.

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S8: Also, being alone is not worse than being with someone who disrespects you and leaves you and and doesn’t take care of you at your really challenging and hard periods of your life. Like, I think there is a fear of being alone, especially right now. But I think in terms of, you know, that person was already alone when their parents deaths and their health problems happened because that one most wonderful man in the world wasn’t there to take care of them.

S3: Right. I think that there are probably ways in which towards the end of that relationship, you were already very alone. And I understand that that doesn’t just make you feel like great. I don’t feel lonely now, but I would maybe try to reflect on, like, how difficult it might have been to think I think there’s something wrong. But I’m afraid to ask before you actually asked, like, what was it like to be walking on tiptoes around your own boyfriend? That, I imagine was pretty lonely in its own way.

S8: Yeah, I think getting mad is an effective way of helping somebody move on and being genuinely frustrated. And I think it was also reminding yourself that it’s reasonable to ask someone about your relationship and the possibility of marriage after you’ve been dating that long. And that can help you really move on, saying that your letter writer, that your concerns and what you spoke up about were totally reasonable things. Yeah.

S3: And I’m just sorry, I do think eventually you are going to be able to tell this story to your friends and they’ll say he did what? And you have a hearty laugh about what a piece of shit this guy was to you. But you don’t have to get there today. And I understand that it just hurts right now. But I think you’re right not to contact him. It is OK to still feel really sad and hurt, focus on the ways in which this guy just totally failed to be present in your relationship and hold onto the parts of you that think like when you look at your own letter, things like, I think I deserved better than that.

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S5: I think I deserved better than this kind of avoidance. And, you know. Congratulations on not talking to him, it is very, very hard not to talk to somebody who broke up with you and who you still think about all the time and really just think like, oh, if we could just try one more time, I think it would work. That’s very hard to do. And I commend you. Yeah. Karen, you’re doing great, too. Thank you so much for stopping by and helping me advise all of these people was a pleasure and a privilege to get to spend time with you.

S3: It was such a delight to get to see you. And I love your recording setup. And thank you again just so, so, so much. This was fabulous.

S10: 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 Prudy part 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 two 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. Thirty seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening.

S2: Oh.

S1: And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday, the circumstances of your two getting together sounds complicated. You thought it would be casual. You ended up falling in love. His relationship with his other partner at the time fell apart. And that’s complicated. And I think part of why I feel so frustrated about this is I think you were already making it pretty clear that you understood the complicated nature of that breakup. And I think had he come to you and said, we just slept together, I want to tell you I’m sorry. I know that that kind of goes against the conversations that we’ve been having and part of me wants to do it again. I think you could have had that conversation with him really well, to listen to the rest of that conversation, joint Slate plus now at Slate dot com forward slash Prudy part.