The “Social (Media) Distancing” Edition

Listen to this episode

S1: Hello, Slate podcast listeners. I’m here to remind you to take the Slate survey. It will be open through April 1st and your answers help us make a better slate. It’ll only take a few minutes. You can find it at Slate.com slash survey.

S2: Danny Laborie here. Also known as Dear Prudence. Please join me for a Dear Prudence Facebook live show on Wednesday, March 25th at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. No, it’s Eastern Daylight Time now. It’s not standard any longer. Come for the questions and stay to see what comes from my apartment. I’ll share on camera. Can you tell? I didn’t write this club very few. You’ll see very few items from my apartment. That’s none of your business. That’s this Wednesday, March 25th at 7:00 p.m.. Please don’t change a word of this. I’m aware that my voice cracked a that you can hear you laughing. But leave it all in. Go to Slate dot com slash live for details.

S3: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. Lucky you.

S4: You produce your prudence here, prudence. You sit in your fruit here. Do you think that I should contact him again? No. How? Thanks. Thanks. Thank you.

S5: 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. Not as always. I am recording this show coming to you live, not life, just from home, from my bedroom. In fact, this is the first time we’ve attempted to record an episode of the show since the culvert 19 outbreak really ramped up in our neck of the woods. And so I am at present and for the foreseeable future, working from home. Welcome to a slightly haphazard. Dear Prudence, and thank you so much for bearing with me. As a result. Joining me today is my first Tefft guest, my producer, Phil Circus. You may remember him from sometimes on the show. I say things like Phil is giving me a look or Phil just texted me. Phil often gives me looks and often texts me and I love him for it. He’s an oakland-based podcast producer whose shows include Dear Prudence and the upcoming Alicia Garza podcast. Lady Don’t Take No. He’s the co-host of the podcast. Okay, Land, along with Abbas Idris. Phil, welcome at long last to the show.

S6: Hi, Danny. It’s so great to sit here where I am in Oakland right now and still give you a look. That’s amazing.

S5: It’s so great. Except I can’t really see it because I minimized the screen where you are to look at the question.

S7: Just know that I’m giving you a look. That’s all I ask.

S5: I can sort of see the outline of, I think, a guitar, which is a shame because I wish it was an outline of Marty someone to actually try to rearrange you. So I can only see Marty.

S6: I try to have Marty in all my Xoom meetings right now.

S5: So, Marty, by the way, listeners is Phil’s dog and he does that wonderful thing that dogs do where he sleeps in the shape of a comma.

S6: That’s one of his shapes. What are some of his other shapes? You know, there’s the cinnamon bun shape. There’s the clawhammer. And then, you know, when he’s all just splayed out with his arms stretched, I’d like to think he’s very comfortable. Then he’s got all the shapes for you. He’s a proper dog with all the shapes. He’s a proper dog with all the shapes.

S8: Phil, thank you so much for not only walking me through this elaborate recording setup that I now have in band, but also for joining me for just a strange and unusual kind of a show and also for letting me watch your dog. It’s my pleasure. Would you be so good as serried our first letter?

S7: I’m excited as long as I’ve been involved in Dear Prudence. This is my first Dear Prudence letter I’m reading. And here I go. Subject. Social distancing and social media. Dear Prudence, do you or your readers have tips on keeping spirits up while social distancing due to some issues with depression and anxiety? I generally find social media to be pretty unbearable and it’s even worse during times of crisis. But at the same time, being completely isolated is also bad for my mental health. Besides just trying to Skype with friends. Does anyone have suggestions for getting that social dopamine hit without having to wade in the cesspool that is Twitter and Facebook?

S6: Yeah. There are ways. I feel like some of the problems today that we’ll be talking about are practically universal now that kind of coping with. But yeah, I think you could probably stay off Twitter and Facebook totally. But then there are still other methods for connecting with folks. Other online methods such as Google Hangouts and Zoom has become tremendously popular in the past week or two.

S8: This is super recent, but I had just seen something. Phil, maybe you’ve heard more about this, about the fact that Zoom can collect some data about like other tabs you have open while you’re engaging in Zoom, which I realize we are both currently using Zoom. So at least in terms of like getting this show recorded. That’s a risk I’m willing to run. But there are, I think, some privacy concerns. So it may be that you have friends who are not interested in Zoom. And I just wanted to throw that out there because I don’t know a lot about what information does or doesn’t lift while you’re using it. I know some people would object to it.

S6: That’s a good thing to watch out for as everyone scrambling to learn zoom at the same time. Now we need to understand where that information is going. I’m also thinking about I’m seeing a lot of nice neighbor stories. No, we’re keeping social distancing. We’re keeping 6 feet from our neighbors. But by talking to them and meeting them because everyone’s kind of staying in the same very compact area right now, perhaps there’s some neighbors. You haven’t really got to know that. Maybe it’s time to try that out.

S8: Yeah, yeah, certainly if you were able to do so. I think looking for any mutual aid societies that may exist in your neighborhood, if there are any opportunities for you to perform acts of service for others that don’t compromise your ability to continue doing the whole social distance thing. I think that will be probably one of the most helpful things that you can do, I think, especially in times of feeling helpless or inert. If you’re already struggling with depression or anxiety and you are looking for a way to both pass the time and make sure that you feel connected, plugged in, anything that you can do for other people, whether that be. And again, I don’t mean to like say just like go run errands willy nilly, run into drug stores, do all kinds of things that might compromise your own health or public safety. I mean, obviously, follow best practices, ask what needs need to be met. But if you’re able to do so, I think that’s going to be huge. Because just being able to think like, oh, I helped somebody out today doing something if they weren’t able to do for themselves, that is like a spiritual shot in the arm and kind of the opposite of wading into a cesspool. I think absolutely.

S6: That is so much better than Facebook, what you just suggested. There is just a huge need for connection. This is just a strange time when this vital life component is kind of being compromised right now. I think a lot of us are realizing how much we need to meaningfully connect with people. But yeah, do it better. Do it safely. As as Danny was saying, please.

S9: Yeah. Yeah. And I think the other thing that’s just gonna be helpful is like it will be good to find like maybe strategize with your friends ahead of time, times that you’re going to try to watch a movie together remotely, times that you’re going to try to escape with one another, times that you might try to like text or make a phone call. All that’s really great. And also, I think just at least for me, sometimes in times like this, it can feel like I can strategize my way out of this, like I can fill up my day so thoroughly that I will have a good time. And I just also want to give yourself I hope that you can give yourself permission to not be surprised by the fact that there will also be times when you are not able to keep your spirits up. You can do good things for yourself every day. You can develop a daily schedule that’s pretty good. You can stay in regular contact. You can be of service. And you may also have times on a daily basis where you just feel this is awful. And not to say like, don’t worry, that’s great. But I just mean like, don’t be surprised if that happens. This is genuinely difficult. It is really, really hard, especially if you are alone or with people that you’re having a difficult time being around. It’s really, really hard to stay in one place and not go out and see people for days and weeks on end. So I also I guess I guess mostly I’m just trying to say, as I want you to be able to find things that lift your spirits and also to just acknowledge this is really, really hard and you don’t always have to try to keep those spirits up.

S10: If you like, I would like to take a nice long 20 minute cry.

S6: I also want to applaud you for noticing what does what’s not working for you. But no knowing that you need to do something. To lift your spirits. Yeah, that is huge. That it’s huge. You might experience both wonderful social interactions, you know, whether online or with neighbors and and feel bad about what’s happening in the same day. And that’s OK. I just really applaud and appreciate that you’re trying to figure out how to stay healthy.

S11: Yeah. Yeah. And I know that this question also came for readers. So if any one listening has any suggestions, things that have worked for them, please write and let us know. I’d be happy to read them out on the air the next time that we record. Anyone who has any depth. I’ll take tips. You know, like certainly there’s there’s suggestions, I’m sure that I haven’t thought of. So I would love to hear what’s working for other people. And what’s not working, so I’ll take the next question, some of some of today’s questions are very topical and some are more timeless and some are more possibly will be timeless again. But read a little dated at president, so trying to strike a balance. The subject of this next letter is miserable. Mom, Dear Prudence, I’m currently living in Europe and have been for the last five years, although at times it’s hard on me and my family to be so far apart because we’re extremely close. Even weathering it fairly well. The problem is that now with the Corona virus and subsequent haphazard travel bans, my mom is beside herself with fear. The fact that I’m far away and potentially out of reach should borders become even more closed is torturing her. She’s been crying on the phone, and while she recognizes that there’s no way to predict the future, the anxiety has been overwhelming for her. Pretty. I feel like such a horrible daughter. I don’t know how to ease her worry. And while I don’t think going home at this point would be a smart decision. Part of me just wants to jump on a plane. Is there a way to help her with her anxiety? Also, more selfishly, how do I handle my own guilt about my choices having led to this situation? Deciding to stay in Europe was an agonizing choice. And now I’m wondering if it was selfish to choose to be so far away. If I was in the U.S., I could hop in a car and be home. So in some ways, Bill, as you know, this is my bread and butter, because trying to help people figure out how much of my mom’s sadness can I as her child personally address is really what keeps me going. Day after day and year after year. True.

S12: And so I I have lots and lots of sympathy for your mom.

S9: Letter writer, obviously, I have lots for you. I totally understand that your mom is anxious and scared. That strikes me as a totally understandable response to what’s happening right now. I don’t think that she’s trying to manipulate you or to guilt you or to treat you badly. So that’s all to the good. That said, given that her anxiety is specifically about you, I think that you are not the primary person she needs to be taking this anxiety to. Does that make sense? Well, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Like. If she’s afraid about you and you’re the person she’s going to about it on a daily basis, and all you can do is kind of listen to her cry. Of course you’re going to start to feel like, God, how selfish of me to decide to live on another continent. It’s just like, yeah, that’s not selfish.

S6: No, it’s not. It sounds like there’s this kind of double whammy happening because you’re being very hard on yourself and also receiving, you know, taking in and absorbing your mom’s anxiety. And first of all, how can you how can you be so hard on yourself for a decision you made so long ago? I mean, I know a lot of people are wondering like like vacations that have just come up in the past few weeks and to go out, to go and and but, you know, it sounds like you’re being very hard on yourself. The only thing I could think of is that. I’m not saying you can solve your mom’s anxiety, but, you know, if you do talk to her to really kind of try to focus on it, the fact that you are talking on the phone and, you know, maybe spending that time not worrying or being anxious about what might be because none of us know what might be. But to focus on, you know, hopefully a sweet nugget of you and your mom talking in that moment.

S9: Yeah. Yeah, I would say the whole bit about more selfishly, how do I handle my own guilt? Two things there. One. It’s not selfish for you to figure out how do I address feelings of misplaced guilt? That’s part of the work of being a person. It’s only that you have every right to do that you need to do for your own emotional well-being. It’s not a selfish choice. I mean, on top of that, I think it’s also okay to act selfishly in various ways, but I wouldn’t even mark that as a selfish choice. The other thing is, of course, letter writer, you know this you mentioned earlier that none of you could predict the future. You you know, your choices didn’t lead to this situation. I understand that. Part of what you’re saying and that was when I moved to Europe, I knew I would be living somewhere far away, such that if any global disaster struck, I would be elsewhere. But that’s an awfully far cry from my choices led to this situation. I think part of what your response to your mom’s anxiety, which again is understandable, but also at this point pretty outsized, is to try to magnify your own sense of responsibility to kind of matcher. So it’s like, you know, five years ago, I essentially made a statement that said if disaster strikes, I want to be on the other side of the world from you. That’s not the decision that you made. You made a decision about where you wanted to live and work and experience a certain portion of your adulthood that was not primarily based on physical proximity to your mom and dad. It’s a really reasonable choice that a lot of adults make. I hope it’s one that’s resulted in a lot of excitement, personal growth, the opportunity to travel, meeting exciting new people. I hope it’s been really good for you. So, you know, this is not something that you did to hurt your mother. You know, when it comes to these phone calls where she’s crying all the time. I’m not suggesting you say like, mom, get it together. You got to deal with this on your own. Fuck off. Not at all. But I do think it would be okay for you to let her know and say, mom, sometimes these conversations are a little hard for me because there’s not a lot I can do. And I worry that you need more help than I can give you. I hope you’re talking about this with dad or your friends or a therapist or all of the above, because all of this all these concerns are real and they’re big and they’re scary. And I don’t want you to feel like you don’t have as many resources as you can. So that’s one way that again, it’s not like, stop bringing this to me. Leave it alone. Go talk to it about it to somebody else. I don’t think you’re at that stage with her, but to let her know that that you would help you if she could spread some of this anxiety out. And I think it’s also okay if she starts to spiral on the phone to just gently pause the conversation, just say, like, Mom, I get it. I’m worried, too. I know you’re afraid right now. This is thing we’ve talked about before. I don’t think it’s helpful to speculate too much. Do you mind if we just kind of like sit breathe together for a minute and talk about something we can control, like coming up with a safety plan together, establishing how you will stay in touch with one another? Should borders become, you know, even if borders were closed more strenuously physically, you’d still be able to call. You’d still be able to email. You’d still be able to text. So I think it might help to come up with a series of like if X happens, we will do Y and Z thing. That is not me moving back home, but that maintains a flow of emotional information or updated how you do in kind of a thing. Does that make sense, Phil?

S6: It does make sense. I wanted to add that if you are on the phone with her and she and you do feel like mom, get it together, fuck off or something like that. Don’t beat yourself up for having those feelings. That’s like a natural death, a natural reflex that a lot of us have when dealing with a family member. I just, you know. Yeah, you can feel that way, but just know you. But you know, you don’t have to act on it. You kind of you can pause in these moments, you know, because you are recognizing what’s happening right now. You’re bearing the brunt. You’re receiving a lot of your mom’s anxiety. It’s not really healthy for you right now. I want you to give yourself a break.

S13: Yeah. You know, you can give her some time and space to share this stuff with you. And then you can also just set a cap on how much time each week or each day. You can hear that stuff from her and you can say with total love, you know, you don’t. Have to say, like you have reached your limit of emotional support for me. Now leave. But you can just let her know, like it would really help you if you could talk about something else. And I think one other thing. There are so many people in your position right now. There are so many people all over the United States, all over the world who are currently living very, very far away from their friends and family. Some because of work. Some out of necessity. Some have had to flee their places of origin. Some because they got stuck on vacation. All all kinds of people are in your position right now. So, you know, both you and your mom can, I think, find people you may already know and talk to you about. How are you getting through it? What’s working for you? How are you staying in touch? How are you trying to maintain your sanity? What do you do when your thoughts begin to spiral? How do you redirect some of your energy in those times? Like this is not a problem that is unique to you and your family. And I don’t say that again to be dismissive. I just mean, if you throw a rock out into the lake of your social circle, sure, it will ripple outwards and throw up a bunch of frogs, frogs being people who are sharing your experience. Is this one of the worst analogies I’ve ever tried to come up with?

S10: What I’m trying to say is if you ask people, you know, do you know anyone who’s going there’s like this? People will turn up.

S7: And be fox and redirect the conversation, redirect.

S9: Truly, truly amazed at where my mind was trying to go. Also, Phil, I just want to warn you right now, I am opening up a can of fizzy waters. There’s gonna be a refreshing little clicky sound. OK. I believe that in the lead, you know, I I want people to get the real at home with prudence experience. And that involves a lot of refreshing clicking sounds. That’s what really happens at home, like living with a lot of peaceful cicadas. So could you please read the next letters? Sure.

S7: Subject. I forgot to buy a wedding gift. Dear Prudence, my partner and I were invited to several weddings this past fall, even after turning down one of them. The whole year felt like a whirlwind of waiting for our next paychecks to get another plane ticket and booking rental cars and hopping on flights and finding nice clothes that fit on top of this. I was unemployed for part of the year. I truly intended to buy wedding gifts for everyone, and I was stretched thin but could have managed something small at least. But I kept having to wait until the next paycheck and between everything else we were buying. I genuinely forgot two of the weddings and didn’t realize until things settled a bit recently. These aren’t close friends. To the extent that I could casually reach out and say, Hey, I forgot to get you a present, let me make it up to you or something. But there are people I want to keep in my life, so I feel like I need to address this. I’ve never been married, so you don’t know how normal it is for someone to buy a present. Several months after the wedding, if they even still need the stuff in their registries, or if I would be putting weird pressure on them to ask what they want. I’m also just really embarrassed. I feel like this was a weird adulthood test. A failed. Any advice? No failure. I don’t think there’s any failure happening here.

S11: I agree. I feel like this is one of the first things that I like took a real stance on when I took over Dear Prudence. And so I feel like one of the things that I came in with, like guns blazing was like, I’m the advice columnist who says you don’t have to bring a wedding present to any weddings, which, you know, I guess I just wanted to make my mark in the in the community.

S10: But no, it’s a it’s a present.

S13: It is customary to get wedding gifts. It is not mandatory. And especially if you’re traveling to a wedding. It is. It is or ought to be understood that the cost of buying a plane ticket, finding a hotel room, possibly buying new clothes all adds up quite a lot, which as you yourself know. So especially if it’s a destination wedding or a wedding where, you know, a lot of people are travelling, there should be absolutely no expectation that you’re getting a gift, especially now that weddings, by and large, are now no longer like, hey, we’re 22 and setting up a home together perhaps for the first time. And everyone has to have linen because they, you know, run you through with a broadsword. That’s old school. Yet you do not have to get these people presence at all.

S6: That is that is a bold stance. I’m going to say and I’m with it. And with that stance. But the only thing I’ve heard, because I don’t know who came up with the rules for buying wedding gifts. I’ve heard that you have a year to buy a gift, but still, I think it’s a lot. I feel like as much as you’re going to weddings, you’re doing a lot of really nice things for your friends that you’re showing up in person for all these weddings. And like I think giving gifts is almost too much when you talk about renting a car and getting outfits and plane tickets to see your friends. That’s a lot of work.

S13: Yeah, I think especially given how thin you had to stretch yourself to attend all of these weddings, please do not, especially now when so many people are losing their jobs or losing various workplace protections in the light of all these like shelter-in-place orders. Please, please, please don’t spend money. You may very well end up meeting on wedding gifts for people who got married earlier this year. If it’s really you have not failed a weird adulthood taste test, by the way. I even went to Martha Stewart weddings dot com, which even even Martha Stewart weddings dot com will give you a pass, which is that wedding presents are customary but not mandatory. And you know, they’re like they’re willing to meet me halfway. But the Martha Stewart weddings people, they say you aren’t breaking any laws. More than likely, you won’t be called out for your social faux pas.

S6: But it will probably be noticed, which frankly is more there’s something funny about Martha Stewart saying you’re not breaking any laws.

S9: I mean, I doubt that this one was written by Martha Stewart herself. But yeah, I mean, even that was frankly more than I expected from the Martha Stewart. People like it. Guess what I’m just trying to say is like even big, big sticklers. I don’t think would say if someone was like, I’d like to attend my friend’s wedding, but I can only afford to attend, not also bring a gift. What should I do? I think you would be hard pressed to find even a very nice dick to the book. Stick to the rulebooks type of person who would say, like, stay home and you can’t afford to bring a gift. Don’t bother or, you know, run yourself into debt one month just to get a gift for a couple whose wedding you’re attending. So I think you’re just some super solid territory. I don’t think if you buy them anything, if it’s really on your conscience, you know, everyone’s kind of stuck indoors for the foreseeable future, or at least many people are, you know, send them a thoughtful card or tell them that when you’re able to get out of the house again, you want to take them out to dinner to celebrate and then take them to somewhere you can afford, even if that’s just like, you know, a dog on a stick. I’m sorry. Every time I try to reach for like an image or an example today, I just I go to very weird places.

S6: I like it. This is Prudy at home. How are you? You’re a really good friend. You do so much and you don’t have to. Yeah, that this gift thing. Yeah. You don’t need to be in there. I don’t need to be embarrassed at all. We heard it from Martha Stewart’s Web site herself. Exactly.

S9: When I was in my early 20s, my former college roommate invited me to her wedding and I can barely afford to get there. I didn’t get her a gift. She understood we had lived together the previous year. She knew how broke I was. She was also fairly broke. It was great. I saw her just last year. We had a lovely time getting together. We have a fun friendship where we stay in touch. And none of that was severed by the fact that I did not also bring, you know, a gravy about to her wedding.

S6: I don’t think anyone’s going to come back at you and say, where’s my gift? That’s not going to happen.

S14: You’re doing great. I think we can move on to wedding related questions that are like a little bit more serious because this next one. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. I’m glad you’re reading this one, cause this was just a. There are a lot of names, although a lot of things happening. So honestly, I’m sad because at first I thought you were reading.

S6: I’ll read it. Don’t know. I’ve read it a couple times. I’ll read it again.

S9: It was just because I miscounted, as I always do. Who reads what questions? It’s me. OK. Phil, don’t try to take me if my mom let you take it. Thank you, Phil. The subject is bad girlfriend. Dear Prudence. My friend Zane dated my fiancee Kim during college years ago.

S15: Kim and I started seeing each other a year ago after we started working at the same company. We recently announced our engagement. Zane lives in a different city, but I see him fairly often. He’s been dating ADA off and on. As far as I knew, ADA didn’t have any problem with Kim until our engagement party. We’re not especially close, but we’ve gone on a few double dates. ADA had been drinking and went out to the balcony and hung out with a few other people. She started to loudly speculate that Kim was pregnant, that Kim got pregnant deliberately, and that it was so obvious because that is what quote stupid sluts like her do. ADA realized we all heard her and tried to apologize to Kim. Well, Zane made excuses for her. Kim told them to leave. We’ve both since received apologies, but with the added excuse that ADA was drunk at the time. She wasn’t that drunk and obviously has severe psychological issues. If she feels that threatened by a nearly decade old college relationship. Kim doesn’t want ADA around. I don’t want either around, but I don’t want it to cost me my friendship with Zane. I was going to ask him to be my best man, but I don’t know if it’s fair or functional to ask Zane to be at the wedding without ADA. Can I do this? How do I start this conversation? Zane is very stuck on ADA and insists that what happened at the party was just a mistake. Kim says she doesn’t care. She just doesn’t want to have eight of their.

S10: So I guess thoughts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is juicy in a way.

S6: Yeah, in a in a. So kind of in a Melrose kind of soapy.

S5: It is so juicy. I’m going to have to wait to take any medication for at least a half an hour because they recommend that you don’t take grapefruit juice when you’re drinking medication. This one got away from me, too. I really thought this is going to be like Dorothy from Golden Girls, kind of like elaborate little like Bomont.

S6: But no, I just, you know, just keep don’t stop, don’t stop, because I know the gold is gonna flow by the end of the show someday.

S16: Listen, it’s very juicy. That is absolutely bananas and the like, but.

S9: OK. Idea is it is easy to say. No, no, go ahead.

S6: How did discoursing essentially. And this is like I really want to know and care. But essentially they either have to invite them both Zayn and Ayda or not invite them at all. And if they don’t invite them, I think that’s just like drawing a line that’s saying this is the end of the friendship. I don’t know. I don’t know. There’s a way you can just invite one. This. Yeah. You must have seen this question before. I’m not.

S12: I mean, versions of it certainly like you have the gift of clarity here, which is something I talk about a lot. Like ADA did something so unbelievably inappropriate, hostile, cruel. Fucking sexist and misogynistic. Fucking slut shaming. Vicious like she she. Again, this is kind of one of my like periodic like tests of how bad of my things that I throw it on a column like this is something that a villain in a Reese Witherspoon movie would do, like in a in a in a rare R-rated Reese Witherspoon vehicle. This wouldn’t this wouldn’t even necessarily fly in one of like the standard p._g 13 rom coms like this is a record scratch party comes to a halt moment like she was at a party. The two of you had thrown and while speaking to presumably friends of the hostess said, hey, I bet the hostess here trapped the host into getting married to her by getting pregnant on purpose, because that’s what stupid sluts like her like this is not that’s not an accidental statement. And it wasn’t a mistake. We’re way past mistake. This is this is one of those things where even if you’d gotten the best apology in the world, I think the kind of like best way for what it would have been like. Thank you for your apology. I wish you well re-evaluating the way that you treat people. I don’t hold ill will towards you, but kindly leave me alone. Do you treat me like that would be a best case scenario? Moving forward would be like, hey, good luck with re-establishing yourself as an ethical subject. You and I are pretty much done here. So this fantasy that the letter writer has, which is like gee-whiz. This sounds like some problems between women. Kantor’s sensible laid-back guys just keep hanging out is at best and escapist fantasy and at worst frankly moral abnegation. And I don’t love moral abnegation. Is that the word I want? Is Abnegation when your abrogation? I think. Thank you. Greece is a failed abrogation for the next really. Grace, Greece. Thank you so much for that. Thank you for saving me for myself. Yeah, it’s it’s ridiculous. It’s truly ridiculous. And frankly, it’s a little contemptible in you letter writer that you’re like. Can I just have seen there? He didn’t say my fiancee was a stupid, evil slut who tried to trap me into marriage. He just thinks it’s cool that his girlfriend said it. Like, listen to yourself, man. Does that sound like something that you feel really good, like eloquently defending? You know, this is crazy. This is messy. If worse, it’s way it’s way more clear than messy. She did something unbelievably cruel for no good reason. And then when she realized that she’d been caught in the act, offered a half assed apology that came with a caveat of like, I was drunk as if when you’re drunk, you’re no longer responsible for your actions. So, yeah, the thing here is you say to say, Hey, man.

S16: I’m really sad and hurts. I was going to ask you to be my best man. I can’t do that now. The trust and shared respect that I thought existed between us clearly doesn’t ADA can’t come to our wedding. I think you know why.

S15: Please don’t insult my intelligence by telling me that it was a mistake. As if she slipped on a banana peel. Even if she had been blackout drunk, it would still have been a really distressing, disturbing and hurtful moment. I was there. She wasn’t that drunk. She said it because she wanted to. And I think that if you’re comfortable with dating someone who treats mightly life partner that way, our friendship is going to suffer as a result.

S16: That will make me sad. But. It’s not my call to make. That’s all you need to say.

S15: He’s not going to dump her for you. Your friendship will suffer as a result. It should suffer as a result. You should not want to be extremely close with somebody who thinks it’s okay for his girlfriend to say that about the woman you’re marrying.

S6: I think it might be hit. You might be let a writers call to make. I mean, in the sense of letting him know. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But also, maybe it’s time to look. I mean, I think it’s definitely time to let go of the friendship. I don’t know. I wondered what you were going gonna say. I do.

S12: I do know, like you and the whole thing about like Kim says, she doesn’t care like what she means. I think in that moment is like what I read from that is Kim’s worried at this point that like both Zane and Ayda are trying to downplay this. And you appear to be a little bit waffly on the whole, like, you know, obviously Ada’s bad.

S15: But like, can we still salvage Zane? And it’s like you can only salvage Zane if Zane does the right thing and acknowledges just how fucked up this was and takes it seriously. If Zane keeps going with like, well, what are you gonna do? Sometimes that happens. Zane is not salvageable. So my worry is that Kim’s like, I don’t care because she’s already prepared to be told like. Why can’t you let it go, Kim? She was drunk like it’s in the past. Why do you hold grudges? Why are you so unforgiving? I hate them so that I just hate. Yeah. I feel like Kim is feeling the pressure of nobody’s really standing up for her in the full throated way that she deserves to be stood up for. So, yeah, I would say really easy opportunity here for you to say to your friend, fuckin act like a man, you know, like take responsibility, but which I don’t mean like you go in for gender stereotypes. They just literally mean like act like a human adult, like a fully grown person with moral clarity, full comprehension of other people’s responsibilities for their own actions and the willingness to hold someone you care about, namely Ayda to account. That’s what an adult would do in this situation. That’s what Zane should do. If he won’t do it because he’s like, it is really great and she should never have to reconsider her actions. Then, like Zane has told you exactly how much you can count on him.

S9: Yeah, he’s named after Billy Zane, the bad guy from Titanic. What else do you need to know?

S6: That conversation has to happen to know whether you can move forward or whether you part ways.

S12: Yeah, please write back. I would love to hear how that conversation with Zane goes. Very, very, very curious about it.

S7: Well, shall we?

S9: I think we need to. I could stay with us all day. And I need to move on because I’m dangerously close to just like getting high on my own moral superiority.

S7: I’m glad we stayed on it because I really want to know what you think. And I feel satisfied now. So it’s time to move on. Good. Let’s see. The subject is passing the hat. Not the virus. Dear Prudence. A family we know uprooted their lives and moved 500 miles to our city. Sitcom worthy Snarf, who’s made their new home uninhabitable for a bit. So we told them to stay with us in the interim. They’re lovely guests. Kind and witty, clean and courteous. We figured we’d have them for 10 days. Then Corona virus hit. School got canceled. There was a state order to stay home. Their repair crew won’t show up. The movers won’t budge. One parent is in a high risk category disaster. They very much want to move out, but it just won’t happen for at least a month. Here’s the awkward part. Since our resources will get stretched. May I ask them to kick in a little cash for expenses? They haven’t offered, but in their defense the situation has been overwhelming. Also, I chafe at. Sorry, you’re quarantined. Terrible. Start to your new life. Here’s the bill. Looking for an upbeat, humorous take on this one. Ideas. So I love it.

S17: Now the problem is like everyone here is a really good person in a difficult situation rather than like a collection of varying levels of jerks. And also, I just talked a whole lot. So I’m going to let you take the lead.

S6: I think this is a time when we’re all working together. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to suggest if you feel like you need it to keep your now temporarily expanded household going. I think it’s totally fair to ask people that kickin’ if they can, because I think all of us are in a situation right now where we do have to work together. And I think we need to be less shy if there needs about asking for help. I know it’s a hard thing to ask for something like can you kick in some money? It’s an uncomfortable thing. None of us really want to do it. We all wish we could be. I got this. But if you don’t really have it and they’re they’re using a lot of resources, then I don’t see it out of place to ask him, hey, we’re going through a lot of oats or whatever it is. We’re going through a lot of oats.

S18: Phil, thank you for joining me. And the weird images is going through oats like a time of trouble. I like it.

S6: I feel like it is for me because that’s the dry good I’m trying to keep in my house. And I’m not hoarding, but I have oats and I just use my last oats this morning. And I’m worried.

S18: I see. I thought you meant like we’re really going for the oats, like as a sort of like addendum to like sewing your wild oats. Oh, previously we sold out, but now we’re going for the.

S6: I’m really just taken all the way back to breakfast.

S12: That’s all. Gotcha. Yeah, totally reasonable conversation. And like as you say, they’re like lovely people kind. They’re already super conscientious. They’re cleaning up after themselves. You clearly care about them. Everyone wants to do the right thing here. So I think your fears are mostly unfounded. I think basically all you need to do is say like, hey, this is unexpected for all of us. Let’s have a leg home, check in about how we’re gonna get through the next month together.

S17: And like both offers, suggestions are things that you’re going to need from them and also ask for what they might need from you. I mean, in terms of making your living space manageable and sustainable over the next month. Not just in terms of like money, but certainly you can also just say, look, you know, here’s our budget. If there’s anything you’re able to contribute right now, that would be wonderful. If it needs to wait until you’re back in your own place and earning money again. Let us know. But that kind of gives them two options of like can kicking something now or can you kick in something later? Again, it sounds like they’re pretty trustworthy people, so they will probably do one or the other totally reasonable.

S6: I think it’s interesting that you’re looking for a humorous take, too, because you don’t have to be drawn on it. Yeah, you don’t. I was saying that that’s not really necessary. You can be upbeat. A lot of us want to shroud things in humor. Blanket things and you couch things in humor. Maybe that’s wrestling for just to make it more palatable. But this is a totally reasonable conversation that you don’t have to obscure it. Yeah, you know, you can be very clear. You know, very.

S19: Yeah. I don’t think being funny. About money is especially important, especially now and again, you can also you can also say, like I get that you guys are really going through it. If that’s just not possible, please. No, we will figure out another way to make it work. Like you’re not going to try to squeeze blood from a stone here. If they’re like actually, like we’ve we’ve spent all our money and like, you know, my high risk parents health or something or, you know, my job didn’t actually end up starting. So I’m not making any money. You know, you can let them know, obviously, if the answer is we can’t. That is an answer we will accept. So, you know, that’s really all you have to do. But simply asking if you can raise that issue by all means. My God, they will frankly welcome it. These people are probably feeling really anxious about having to trespass on your hospitality, and they will delight in a conversation that enforces and sets like clear shared expectations. So they know, OK, we’re not secretly driving you crazy.

S6: That’s an excellent point. I think it’ll be a big relief for everyone.

S10: Yeah, I think so, too. Thinking by the next round of votes. Yeah, exactly. This next one is weirdly the second birthday related question I’ve gotten today in the light of this global pandemic.

S17: And I guess it makes sense because I periodically get questions from people who are just super intense about birthdays and those people are, you know, having a tough time if their birthday is falling around now.

S20: But it just I don’t know. I was a little surprised, but I shouldn’t have been, I guess, is what I’m trying to say. The subject is birthday breath’s again. Those, not my. I didn’t write s underline. I’m not imposing that word upon you. Letter writer. You brought that to the table. You put that in your own notes, as they said, derivatives.

S21: I’m 30 years old and in my entire life only two of my friends have ever gotten me a birthday or Christmas present. I usually do something for my birthday. Like go to a bar or go out for dinner. And a bunch of friends always come with me. I’m also a big gift giver, but no one ever spares me the expense or the thought of so much as a card. Not even my best friend. It makes me very upset. I feel guilty for being upset. I can’t help but interpret it as meaning no one cares about me. I feel bratty for even bringing this issue out in the open. Am I wrong to be upset? I dwell on it year round and although I’m generally pretty happy. Any mention of birthdays or holidays or gift giving quickly dampens my mood.

S10: Man, I hope your birthday was not recently.

S6: I hear so much conflict in this letter. Like someone who wants a lot of things to happen for their birthday and then is so self-conscious that they’re they’re embarrassed and calling them selfish brat just for thinking about their birthday. So I feel bad for this letter writer and I can kind of relate that it’s kind of a catch 22 of kind of wanting something, but then not really knowing how to really deliver on your own birthday. I think yeah, I saw I relate to this letter writer. I wouldn’t say the word brat. I don’t think you’re being bratty at all. I’m someone who’s been very sensitive around birthdays for a long time, just like, oh, I’ve done so much for all these other this other person. Can they do it for me? And and that’s landed me with a lot of weird birthday feelings over the years until I did started to do the work to really ask myself, what do I really want and what’s really meaningful for a birthday for myself? Cause this whole gift giving thing are people doing stuff I think is kind of just like an old idea that’s carried up from childhood.

S15: I’m curious though, because. Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up, because I was wondering with this own history of years and obviously like feel free to let me know if you don’t want to go into detail. But was this like you would tell people, I really want a gift for my birthday or for Christmas? And then they wouldn’t do it? Or was this you would do it for them? Hope they would do it for you and then they wouldn’t do it.

S6: I feel like I have this wish like people intrinsically know who I am and they’d blow my mind with a birthday for me or something, cause that’s what I tried to do for other people. I just think I just had an expectation that people would do that for me because I did it for them. And I realized after a few years, I’ve kind of really focusing on like, what is it do I want? Because that’s a hard thing to realize for yourself. I just realized I had to take charge my own birthday and then it started to turn around for me.

S17: Yeah, I do. I also like I don’t want to come down too hard on this letter writer, which I worry I have sounds a little bit like, well, buck up. You got to ask for what you want, which is true. I do think you have to ask for what you want, but I also absolutely think that your desire to feel celebrated, to get some sort of token of affection or sense that your friends were thinking about you without prompting like that makes sense to me. That’s not a bad thing. That’s an inherently unreasonable or selfish thing to want. That said, I think one of the things that might be holding you back is the thought of if I ask them for something and then they don’t do it, I’ll know they don’t really care about me. And it will be worse. For and I don’t think that that’s true. I think that, yes, it would be potentially too much if you said to all your friends, I want you to throw me a big blow out birthday party this year. And in the future, that’s something that I need from you as a friend. But certainly, especially with people that you’re normally close with, letting them know that, like, I really, really value this. It really makes me feel loved. Birthdays are really important to me. It doesn’t have to be super expensive or all out. Just something that shows that you put a little thought and care into making sure that it was special for me. I would love that from you. And I do think that that, you know, if you’re if you’re judicious about who you ask that of, your friends will want to do that for you. That’s it. It is also true that, you know, everyone in the world has a birthday. And so, you know, depending on how many friends your friends have a it, it may just not be possible for them all to treat your birthday with the same excitement that you treat your birthday. And that, I do think is OK and important to kind of just acknowledge the last suggestion that I would have is maybe and maybe ease up on the gift giving with other people, because it sounds like at least right now, the reason you do some of the big gift giving is because you that’s what you want from others and not because it just brings you like uncomplicated, unmitigated joy with no thought of reciprocation. Yeah. And I don’t mean like take your ball and go home. Never celebrate your friends again. I just mean figure out what amount of work planning money effort you can put into getting presents for your friends before it starts to feel like. And if they don’t reciprocate in kind. I’m going to start to like tot up of mental emotional bank account that they are now like in debt to me, because at that point I think you are creating a problem where your friends like just blithely think like, oh yeah, like Dana loves doing this and don’t even realize that they’re actually engendering resentment by not reciprocating because like they didn’t ask you to celebrate their birthday in the way that you want yours to be celebrated and you can maybe get them something a little smaller this year or write a briefer card, something that still, you know, sincere and meaningful.

S19: But that doesn’t leave you feeling afterwards. Like, man, oh, man, if they don’t meet this bar that I’ve just said, I’m gonna be miserable.

S6: I think you’re very clear in your letter and I think this letter is is very succinct. And like, you know, I feel like if you let them know more about how you felt, then you might find that they’re really happy to accommodate you. I worry about these situations that so much goes unsaid. There’s just expectations and expectations can be kind of dangerous. But yeah, your. Your letter sounds great. This is a perfectly great starting conversation to have with your close friends.

S15: Yeah. And I think that that bit about like unspoken expectations is really useful folk. So I think and again, like I want to say this in a way that’s not half these people are right and half these people are wrong. It’s just.

S19: The problem is when you don’t communicate these expectations, not necessarily the expectations themselves.

S10: Some people will consider birthdays almost not at all like, oh, weird. It’s like a colleague of just a bit of a joke.

S19: Like technically, this is the day I was born or whatever. I don’t know why is said. Technically, I don’t know. Birthdays feel a little fake to me in that sense. Like some people truly don’t care. Other people think of it as an opportunity to, you know, kind of like Colin, you know, my attention ship for the year. It’s like today’s the day we all take a little time out and say something nice to me. That’s fun. Some people really experience it as like a true test of whether or not they are valued. And I don’t want to say that that’s necessarily by itself a bad thing, because. Absolutely. If you can kind of communicate those expectations to other people and also hold space for the fact that not everyone else feels the same way and that’s OK. It can be fine to just say birthdays are really important to me. But yeah, I think the problem is when the sort of person who’s like the birthday is the day of the year that you find out who loves you and who would leave you to die in the street, I get somebody who’s like, Oh, yeah. Birthdays. I guess technically we all have them, but I don’t care.

S17: And if you get those two people who may both genuinely care for and respect and esteem, the other in equal amounts, if you put them in a friendship and they don’t have a kind of come to Jesus, talk about birthdays at any point, you know, you might run into some some problems. And so it’s just good to talk these feelings out.

S6: It is. I just want to add one more thing is if you’re talking to your friends about this, everyone does think about birthdays differently and you might not be able to impart. Exactly. I mean, you could tell him how you feel, but just be prepared that some people just don’t have that weight around the birthday and might not. Completely understand.

S19: Right. And I think that’s an important point because it’s like, oh, if I share my feelings. Everyone will agree and do the thing that I want. No, that’s not the point of having a conversation about your feelings. The point of having a conversation with about your feelings is that you’re no longer alone with your feelings. So. So it doesn’t just mean I tell everyone what they’ve been doing wrong and they agree to do it right. It’s truly just they know a little bit more about me. I know a little bit more about them.

S17: We can all adjust our expectations accordingly and make better, more thoughtful plans together. And we should leave that one alone because there’s only so much that we can say about the subject off to the next one.

S7: I’m not touching that one anymore, although I liked it. Enough. This one supped the subject is sharing a baby name. Dear Prudence, I’ve always played around naming my baby John. Let’s say there was a name my grandfather wanted to name my uncle, but my grandmother insisted on a junior instead. And she regrets that decision. I do not like nicknames for this particular name, but this also applies to my first child’s name, and using his full name only has been a success so far. About two years ago I made a new friend and she named her child John. It is a family name for them. We are close and our kids are two. Is it wrong for me to go ahead and name my child John? Do I ask her first? Will my other friends in the group think I’m totally nuts? Am I? I have suggested other names to my husband and we can’t agree on any. He is not 100 percent on this name, but is the first one. I have suggested that he didn’t shut right down. Where do we go from here? Yeah, this is a hard one to read. For some reason only because I kept getting tripped over the words. But can’t you just if you if you’re feeling a name for your child, can you name that child? Anything you want and not cave in to fear of other people, but to name the child.

S17: I’m right there with you, Phil. I mean, we found the thing that I tend to care even less about than adult birthdays, which is sharing names. Everyone shares a name. I don’t think there’s any person on the earth who has a completely unique name.

S22: If you are someone who has a name, no one else on the entire planet shares, please write it. I would like to hear your name. I hope you enjoy it. Especially like the fake name that they picked, which is one of the most common male names that it is possible to have. Yeah, yeah. There’s just there’s a lot of angst going into this and like all the mistakes of name giving in the past and like possibly it can be redeemed now. Except for my new friend. Name your fucking kid, John. If you want. Yeah. There’s a lot of johns in the world.

S6: And be prepared that John may grow up and I won’t change his name. It’s fine. It’s fine. Yes, this is the name, that’s all.

S22: Yeah. A like this is not a problem with something you’re doing to your friend. It doesn’t take away from her kids ability to be named John. It’s not like if two johns meet in the street. They have to fight like any other one has to pick your name like it’s fine. I know sometimes people take umbrage. Those people are unreasonable and they need to knock it off. Nobody has an original name. Nobody owns a name. It’s fine. Maybe catch on if you feel the need to mention to your friend like hey, this is a kind of a weird coincidence, but I’ve always been interested in naming my kid John and as the only name I has that I can agree on. We’re both gonna have kids named John. You don’t like your friends, do they? Oh, no. How will we know which one is which?

S20: You know her? Her kids. A toddler and years’s. It sounds like maybe not even a real fetus yet. Right. I don’t think so.

S22: Yeah. The letter writer says, my baby. But then let’s say. So it’s like this is maybe not even a baby.

S6: This is a hard core speculative anxiety over. Yeah. Yeah. I think just whatever you’re feeling in the moment for your child is totally fine. I don’t think there’s any. Societal or social faux pause on naming, you know, having to dance. You’re doing great.

S15: Name your kid, John. If you want to go to a wedding and not bring a gift. I think that’s fine. I am comfortable with the fact that there are people who will disagree with me. Those people are free to disagree with me and not invite me to their weddings. I mean, it’s nice to bring a gift if you can. I’m not a.. Bringing a gift to a wedding. I just I think if the options are I can either afford to go to the wedding and not bring a gift or don’t go to the wedding. You should go in offering a gift. It’s an optional. It’s an option. The couples should be understanding and gracious.

S6: I just think it’s really sweet and amazing if people meet each other just to talk and share space. That’s a gift.

S19: I think it’s it’s frankly terrific. And I hope someday soon we’re all able to go to weddings again and that people get to celebrate their birthdays as much as they would like to and that kids get to have names and everybody’s mom can feel relaxed about their kids safety and that nobody hangs out with ADA until she gets her home.

S14: ADA. Don’t get me started with it, ADA.

S21: You know, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you, buddy. And you really need to work on the way you talk about people and probably, you know, reconsider your relationship to alcohol.

S20: But we don’t time for that right now. We got to hurry up through this field. OK.

S6: Thank you so much. Thank you.

S17: And listeners. Thank you to you for bearing with everything that you just heard today. And I hope that you’re all taking good care of yourselves and staying safe.

S6: I hope that, too. And you know what else? What else? Fill Facebook Live is coming up on Wednesday.

S13: It sure is. Grace and I are going to be doing the Dear Prudence Life Show from our living room at 7 p.m. EDT. Phil, is there some sort of a way that people can find to watch us?

S7: There is a way. The way is to go to Slate.com. Forward slash live and there’ll be a link there that will take you to the Facebook live. Couldn’t be simpler.

S2: Thank you for listening to Dear Prudence, our producer and guest is still circus. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton. Don’t miss an episode of the show. Head to Slate dot com slash Dear Prudence to subscribe. And remember, you can always hear more prudence by joining Slate.

S23: Plus, go to slate.com slash pretty pod to sign up. If you want me to answer your question. Call me and leave a message at 4 0 1 3 7 1. Dear 3 3 2 7. You don’t have to use your real name or location. Keep it short. 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks. Listening.

S24: And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday. Do you think it’s also worth asking like, hey, am I doing this too much like D? Do you think that that would be good to to ask him whether or not this is actually workable for him or if part of him wishes you did it less?

S25: Yeah, I think that is something you could ask because it’s important for you yet. The how? What’s the best way to do this? Not just figuring out how it can be done better, but if it does seem that it’s more stress, it takes more time and is something that it’s harder for him to do to listen to the rest of that conversation.

S24: Joint slate plus now at Slate, dot com forward slash prudy pod.