Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)
Our daughter had a terrible first marriage. Her husband was a narcissist and a liar. We gave them over $50,000 in business loans. The money went to finance a lavish lifestyle and when it crashed and burned, my daughter caught what her husband was saying and claimed it was a gift. He cut us out of his life for two years after making noise about seeking legal advice. We removed the money, but privately agreed that even though we wanted to have a relationship with our daughter, we would not put ourselves in this situation again. Our daughter came to her senses and divorced her husband after getting into serious trouble with the law. We welcomed him and never mentioned the money until now.
Our son and our other daughter are getting married and looking for a new home, respectively. We pay for it. Neither of them asked us to support them after college, so it only seems fair. Our daughter caught wind of the arrangement and now demands that we help her in the same way. Engaged again, but neither is making much money. We reminded him of the original fifty thousand and he cried, unable to believe that we were “throwing it in his face” again after all he had been through. We don’t want to lose him again, but we also don’t want to blackmail him here. What should we do?
– Money is important
Dear Money Matters,
I don’t really see where you are being blackmailed, but I understand that it must be very difficult and that everyone is traumatized by your daughter’s horrible first marriage. I don’t think this is what you want to hear, but if you can, why not go ahead and give her a gift as a down payment for the wedding and her sisters? Hear me! The $50,000 you gave him was a business loan. Of course, it was a debt you ultimately had to pay off, but it seems like most of the blame was on her narcissistic, lying, criminal husband, who I think manipulated her pretty tightly. So he never got to experience the “A pile of money from your parents to help you get started in life” experience that his siblings were about to enjoy. And now he can really use it. I don’t like him “demanding” money. It’s certainly justified, and it’s disgusting. But if you consider that he’s been having a really hard time lately, and you can forgive that (and again, if you’re sitting down), why not?
Now, if you have 50k set aside for each child and you take it from him when he and his ex default, he’s out of luck.
The money just isn’t there. I hope that if you make it clear without any judgment about her bad romantic choices, failed business, or lavish lifestyle, she will be able to get over her disappointment.
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I (39M) have been close friends with my current boyfriend (38F) since my mid-20s, although we didn’t meet until a few years ago. Our relationship is fairly casual in terms of life metrics (we don’t live together, nor do we plan to; we don’t want to have children together, and our finances are separate), but emotionally intense. Our relationship is closely related to mutual artistic creativity from the beginning. I care deeply for her and have never met anyone with whom I feel so mentally and creatively compatible. He and I have only dated other people during the time we’ve been friends, but we’ve both admitted to each other during that time that we’ve mentally captured all of our partners and compared them to how we feel. together and find the missing comparisons.
It’s always beautiful when we spend time together – everything from deeply exciting creative sprints, meandering philosophical conversations, amazing sex, or cozy quiet cuddles on the couch to watching a movie or just being with each other in pure bliss. Basically, I love him very much and want our relationship to continue in more or less its current configuration for the rest of our lives, and he has reciprocated those feelings many times. It’s very hard for me to imagine finding another person like him in the whole world, let alone someone who doesn’t have his characteristics.
And Prudie … boy, do I have concerns. I consider myself a relaxed, flexible and generally polite person; she has the philosophy that politeness is a fancy name for lying and is very demanding in always wanting things her way. Although he is willing to compromise if I push back, it takes a lot of energy to negotiate compromises with him. Our compromises are usually harmonious when I care enough to put in the energy, but since I’m not nearly as strict in my expectations and demands as he is, I often lose myself because it’s easier for me to bend. trying to bend around it a little bit. He also maintains a carefully private and locked down social media page that only I and a few other very close friends have access to, where he talks very meanly about his current roommate/ex-boyfriend and other people (his father, younger brothers). + nieces/nephews, other close and mutual friends) and makes it clear that if someone doesn’t know something he considers obvious, he believes them to be stupid at best, and willfully refusing to understand him at worst.
Although he has the ability to be very kind and supportive to those he cares about, and has come to the aid of me and other friends on several occasions, he also has the ability and desire to be very cruel. I already know that he will not accept an opinion of this cruelty; he believes that his treatment of others is justified and believes that keeping hatred in private space is a sufficient compromise for social harmony. However, she has shared screenshots of text conversations with these people and talks to them as she writes about them; he is very rigid and does not consider that people have different perspectives and knowledge bases than him. Mostly, I have a deep feeling that our relationship is so good because I carefully avoid anything that looks like conflict with him. I’m not sure this is a wise or legally sustainable relationship. There’s a part of me that thinks I should be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t have all of these concerns, but I don’t see the point in throwing my boyfriend into the “spec” of something better that might exist.
Basically, this is my question: Is it better to date someone I love fiercely, but also have my doubts about (as long as he continues to not directly disclose his cruelty to me or cross an as-yet-undefined line of cruelty to others) or someone whose expectations and attitude towards others make me very uncomfortable at times? should I get rid of a close relationship with someone?
That sinking feeling is true. You wouldn’t “specially” throw it away. You would leave him because going through life avoiding conflict with someone you see as cruel, controlling and narcissistic is bad and no way to have a relationship. But for what it’s worth, yes, there is someone out there who isn’t so mean.
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There’s a dilemma at work that I’ve let simmer for far too long, and now I’m about to explode. I am white in a very diverse workplace for a very diverse public university. One of my co-workers has been using the word “hero” instead of “hello” for the entire year and a half I’ve been here. The only reason I didn’t say anything? He is Asian. But knowing that he’s Chinese is starting to eat me up. And my understanding of the word “hero” is that while it was originally used to make fun of anyone with an Asian accent, it’s specifically taken from the Japanese accent, which replaces the “l” sounds that Japanese doesn’t have. with “r” sounds. As someone who teaches English in Japan, I know for a fact that the “l” sound is really hard for Japanese speakers! My Chinese-Canadian colleague has a Canadian accent, meaning he was born and raised in Canada and English is his first (or primary) language. So every time he says it, it breaks my heart.
I really hate being a white person controlling Asians’ use of a word used to make fun of Asian speakers. But I’m starting to feel like I’m betraying my Japanese friends, my former students, and the Japanese population of our school by not saying anything! Asia is not monolithic, and what is offensive to Japanese speakers may not be offensive to Chinese. I have to say something, so my question is: 1) To avoid complicated office politics (which are currently too complicated), should I bring it up to her manager and ask the manager to talk to her? not least because this colleague is technically superior to me and takes feedback poorly)? 2) If I have to bring this up myself, what’s my script so I don’t come off as a white guy promoting?
– Should I stay or should I go?
Dear stay or go?
I started checking this letter to better understand if your school has legitimate concerns that your colleague’s pronunciation is offensive to the Japanese population. And then I started reading it again to see if he thought he did it on purpose or not. But after it didn’t matter that much, I stopped. While your concern may be real, it’s none of your business, it doesn’t directly affect you, you don’t manage this woman (in fact, she’s your supervisor!), no one complained to you, and you already know your feedback won’t solve the problem.
So I have a script, but say to yourself, “My strong reaction to my colleague saying this reminds me of how much I care about making this university an inclusive place.
I’m going to be strategic about how I do that in a way that fits my role here. There are plenty of chicks and affinity groups here that would appreciate my support, and there will be plenty of moments where my voice as a white person is strong. I will look for opportunities to become allies. When it comes to standing up for marginalized groups, I will follow the lead of people I trust protect.”
Meet this week’s Prudie.
Additional Advice from Slate
I came home from a girls night out last night to find that my partner’s phone was unplugged. I picked it up, plugged it into the charger and scrolled through Facebook to see what was going on. I open it and see a picture of one of her friends in a bikini, zoomed in on her body and chest. I woke him up and asked him about it, and in a sleepy daze he admitted that he used it to masturbate earlier in the night. To be honest, I lost it.