My Partner’s Relationship With His Ex Makes Me Feel Like the Third Wheel. Help!

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Speaker A: Welcome to dear Prudence.

Speaker A: I’m your prudence, janae Desmond Harris.

Speaker A: Today we’ll be discussing topics including how to cope with excessive Facebook photos of your partner’s ex sure, we’ve all been there.

Speaker A: How to mourn a racist in law’s death and how to have a cute summer romance in Italy.

Speaker A: Here to help me out is Tia Williams, the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including The Accidental Diva, Seven Days in June and The Perfect Find, which was adapted to a Netflix film starring Gabrielle Union.

Speaker A: I watched it.

Speaker A: It’s really cute and really good.

Speaker A: You should check it out.

Speaker A: She’s also the sister of one of my good friends and favorite people, Lauren Williams.

Speaker A: Hey, Tia.

Speaker B: Hi.

Speaker B: So great to meet you.

Speaker A: So great to meet you, too.

Speaker A: Like I told you when we asked you to come on the show, I feel like I already know you because I’m friends with your sister.

Speaker A: And in fact, I’ve told her I wish I could get your parents on the show to give advice.

Speaker B: Oh, my God, they’d be so good, and they’re very opinionated and well, also.

Speaker A: Your family is the opposite of a Dear Prudence letter.


Speaker A: Like, to have three sisters who are, like, healthy, happy, successful, like each other and, like, their parents aren’t battling over some insane issue that’s actually really impressive.

Speaker A: And I kind of want to know how they made that happen.

Speaker B: I want to know, too.

Speaker B: Yeah.


Speaker B: I want to know, for my little family, how to make it work the way that they have.

Speaker B: I mean, they’re currently on a cruise, just living, laughing, and loving.

Speaker A: They’re so much fun.

Speaker A: I just really, really like them.

Speaker A: Since we don’t have your mom right now, I’m going to ask you for one piece of unsolicited advice, anything that you just wish people in the world would know when you would like to get off your chest.

Speaker B: Therapy.

Speaker A: Therapy.

Speaker B: Everyone should go.


Speaker B: Even if you think you don’t need it, go.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: I feel like the stigma has lifted a lot, but people still think of therapy as just, like, quote, unquote, someone to talk to.

Speaker A: So I think some people believe that, oh, if I have people to talk to, if I have friends and family, I don’t need a therapist.

Speaker A: But it’s more than that, right?

Speaker B: Yeah, it’s much more than that.

Speaker B: And sometimes you figure things out.

Speaker B: Just talking to someone that you don’t know, that you haven’t grown up with, that you’re not in love with, that isn’t a friend, just some impartial person.

Speaker B: You learn so much about yourself.


Speaker B: And I just keep seeing more and more like, people taking their past traumas and sort of dumping them on the people in their lives instead of working it out.

Speaker B: I feel like everyone’s relationships, platonic, romantic, whatever would be so much better if they just talk out some of their stuff.

Speaker A: That’s a good reminder for me.

Speaker A: I need to find a new therapist.

Speaker B: I just found a new one, it’s.

Speaker A: Hard to find the right fit.


Speaker A: But I also think if you’re in therapy and you feel as if it’s not doing anything for you, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in therapy.

Speaker A: It means you haven’t found the right person.

Speaker A: Right?

Speaker B: Exactly.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker B: Keep looking.

Speaker A: Okay, thanks for the call out.

Speaker A: I’m going to do it.


Speaker A: So Tia and I will be back to answer our first questions after a short break.

Speaker A: Welcome back.

Speaker A: You’re listening to dear Prudence, and I’m here with Tia Williams.

Speaker A: Let’s get started with our first letter.

Speaker A: It’s titled Insecure idiot.

Speaker D: Before we met, my ex fiance James dated an online model named Cersei.

Speaker D: They broke up when he confronted her with evidence of her infidelity, and she chose the other guy over him.

Speaker D: Soon after that point, James decided he wanted to settle down and have a family.

Speaker D: We met online and got engaged a year into our relationship.


Speaker D: A few months later, while we were planning our wedding, cersei began dating James’brother John, whom he is very close to.

Speaker D: I was not comfortable with my fiance’s gorgeous, self centered and highly dramatic ex hanging out with us regularly, much less potentially becoming part of the same family, especially since she acted very condescending and dismissive towards me and she still seemed more into James than John.

Speaker D: James admitted that Cersei contacted him and tried to get back together with him right before she got with John.

Speaker D: I suspect she regrets letting him go and is only with John a to get closer to James, and b to hopefully get a piece of their family wealth.


Speaker D: James informed John of this, but John, who is much more socially awkward and has more trouble dating than James, is willing to overlook anything for the sake of her beauty.

Speaker D: When I thought about how I’d really feel having Cersei at my wedding and in my life, I realized I would probably never be able to get over my insecurity.

Speaker D: This stems from my own less than gorgeous looks, for which I was badly bullied as a child, plus several experiences of being cheated on in the past, plus Cersei’s actual behavior towards James and me.

Speaker D: So I very calmly and undramatically broke off my engagement to James, explaining that the issue was entirely mine.

Speaker D: James, however, is having trouble accepting this.

Speaker D: He wants very badly to get back together.


Speaker D: He says we’ll elope to avoid the issue of having Cersei at our wedding, and he promises never to see her socially, just John on his own.

Speaker D: If John can’t respect that, then James won’t see him either.

Speaker D: I’m torn because I never intended to manipulate James or cause tension in his relationship with his brother, but I do love and miss him terribly.

Speaker D: Should I trust his promises to exclude Cersei from our lives and get back together with him?

Speaker D: Or should I trust my own intuition that I won’t feel secure or happy as long as Cersei is even on the periphery and tell him no, at least not unless we’re both still single when John breaks up with her.


Speaker A: Total side note, poor John married to this woman who just wants a little bit of the family money, and he’s the second choice.

Speaker B: He’s a pawn.

Speaker A: Yeah, I really feel for him.


Speaker A: But he didn’t write to us, so John, hang in there.

Speaker A: I think my biggest thought was the letter writer, Know.

Speaker A: I realized I would not be able to get up my insecurity.

Speaker A: I calmly and undramatically broke off my engagement.

Speaker A: I said the issue was entirely mine.

Speaker A: This is, like, exactly the kind of thing I’m always telling people they should do while acknowledging that it’s totally not realistic.


Speaker A: It’s very hard when you’re in love with someone to be like, you’re making me feel unhinged.

Speaker A: I’m going to end this because it’s not healthy for either of us.

Speaker A: It’s been nice knowing you.

Speaker A: But she did it.

Speaker B: She did do it.

Speaker B: But the thing is, he’s not making her feel unhinged.

Speaker B: She’s making herself feel unhinged.

Speaker B: Now.

Speaker B: I say that.

Speaker B: But also, Cerse is a demon.

Speaker B: We see that she’s a menace.

Speaker B: First of all, coming between two brothers is just that’s, like, evil behavior.

Speaker B: You never want to jump in between siblings.

Speaker B: I can’t even get with dating within a friend group, like a closed friend group.

Speaker B: How could you do that?

Speaker A: There are millions of people on the earth, and you’re going to jump to someone who’s close with your ex?

Speaker B: Why it’s only this family that, you know, come know.

Speaker B: James has done everything to try to make her feel know.

Speaker B: Let’s elope.

Speaker B: I never even have to hang out with Know, which is not great for him because he wouldn’t even see his so, like, he’s trying.


Speaker B: But the letter writer, she’s spiraling, but it’s kind of a h*** of her own making.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker B: And I feel like she actually did do the right thing, because if an outsider can cause you to feel that insecure in your relationship, then you need to go and do some thinking.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker A: I feel like these issues, as far as, like, bullying, due to her appearance and being cheated on, they’re going to come up even with the next person.

Speaker A: Anyone could trigger these feelings.

Speaker A: Like you said, Cersei’s a demon, but I think a non demon could bring up these issues almost to the same level.

Speaker B: Definitely.

Speaker B: I mean, when the problem is with yourself, when you’re so insecure with yourself, that’s always going to live there.

Speaker B: Sometimes relationships are a place to heal.

Speaker B: No one is 100% evolved, ever, I don’t think.

Speaker B: And it doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve love, but I do think that it has to be in a manageable place.

Speaker B: Your relationship with your fiance or your husband should not be that threatened by an outsider.

Speaker B: It just shouldn’t.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker B: Unless that person is directly coming in between the two of you.

Speaker B: Right.

Speaker A: And I think she says that Cerse was like rude or condescending or dismissive or something to her.

Speaker A: But I feel like when there’s no concrete facts about what like you would have told me if she did something really crazy.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker A: You would have said it.

Speaker A: Yeah.

Speaker B: Granted.

Speaker B: Okay.

Speaker B: She is rude and dismissive.


Speaker B: James has offered to never have to put the letter writer in the position of being near her.

Speaker B: Let’s elope, let’s not hang out.

Speaker A: What would you say to James?

Speaker A: I definitely think he really loves the letter writer.

Speaker A: That’s a grand gesture, right?

Speaker A: Cutting off this woman, even if it’s not at all realistic or practical for him not to see his potential sister in law.

Speaker A: What would you tell James?

Speaker B: I mean, that is a tough position.

Speaker B: I also would like to know how close he is to his brother.

Speaker A: Good question.

Speaker A: Because if they live across the country and it’s like a once a year Thanksgiving thing, that could easily be cut out.

Speaker A: But if they’re playing golf twice a week, that’s different.

Speaker B: Yeah, I think that changes everything.

Speaker B: Like having the context of how close the brothers are.

Speaker B: Because if they are close and they live in a town together or like you said, they meet up to shoot hoops twice a week, there’s no way, even if James is know, we never have to see her.

Speaker B: There’s no way that they’re never going to see Cerse.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker A: And it’s going to cause a crisis.

Speaker B: And it’s going to cause a crisis.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker A: So this is like my deeper, more nitpicky reading.

Speaker A: So James was dating a quote unquote online model.

Speaker A: I think that means an instagram model.

Speaker B: An instagram model.

Speaker A: She’s an influencer, whatever.


Speaker A: She’s conventionally attractive and she puts herself out there and he goes from that to dating a woman who is made fun of for being unattractive.

Speaker A: I just don’t feel like that’s a pattern people follow in life.

Speaker A: I don’t know what to make of it, but it seems weird to me.

Speaker A: Does it seem weird to you?

Speaker B: Well, here’s the thing.

Speaker B: Do we have an unreliable narrator?

Speaker B: I mean, she’s the one that’s saying she’s unconventionally attractive.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker B: How many beautiful, pretty, attractive, cute, adorable.

Speaker A: Women do you know so true.

Speaker B: That think they’re unattractive?

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker B: She probably isn’t because guys don’t jump from an instagram hottie to a conventionally unattractive woman.

Speaker B: They just don’t.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker A: If people made fun of me in 8th grade for having oily skin exactly.

Speaker A: And I’m not over it and now I’m conventionally attractive, but I still have this complex that I was an ugly duckling.

Speaker A: Which again, letter writers issue which I think would transfer to any future relationship.

Speaker B: Exactly.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker A: So I guess my bottom line for her know, you said you wouldn’t ever feel secure or happy with James and I think you should listen to yourself.

Speaker A: It’s not your fault.

Speaker A: Like whatever issues, whatever experiences got you here.

Speaker A: But the facts are the facts and relationships are supposed to make you happy.

Speaker A: And I don’t think at this point, you may not be in a great position to feel secure or happy with anyone at this moment, but definitely not someone who has thirst floating around.

Speaker A: Don’t get back together.

Speaker A: Take a break.

Speaker A: I hate to say work on yourself.

Speaker A: We’re all working on ourselves constantly.


Speaker A: But you want to get to a point where you feel okay about yourself, and a relationship will be so much more enjoyable when that happens.

Speaker A: In fact, I would say it’s impossible to enjoy a relationship until you feel at least okay about yourself.

Speaker A: Our next question is titled not Grieving Daughter in Law.

Speaker E: I’m struggling with how to deal with the death of my mother in law.

Speaker E: My husband and I are a mixed race couple.

Speaker E: She was not okay with that or me and made her feelings abundantly clear during the early years of our marriage.

Speaker E: We finally cut her off after our first child was born.

Speaker E: Twelve years ago, my husband learned she had terminal cancer and was in hospice.

Speaker E: A few months ago, he visited her three times without discussing it with me, including the night she died.

Speaker E: It’s been several weeks, and he’s clearly grieving.

Speaker E: I don’t know how to handle it.

Speaker E: I feel betrayed watching him grieve for someone who hated me so much.

Speaker E: I can’t offer him any sympathy or support.

Speaker E: He shouldn’t have to hide his grief, and I shouldn’t have to hide my rage.

Speaker E: But that is what both of us are attempting to do.

Speaker E: How do we move forward from here?

Speaker A: So I really struggled with this question because I’m typically very team.

Speaker A: Cut off all the bigots.

Speaker A: They don’t love you, you shouldn’t love them.

Speaker A: Get them out of your life.

Speaker A: I was on a flight recently with a white guy who told me his father had gone down the Fox News rabbit hole with all the accompanying racism, and the guy told me his wife was a person of color.


Speaker A: And I asked him, well, how’s your relationship with your know?

Speaker A: And he said, oh, it’s fine.

Speaker A: My dad wiped my b*** when I was a baby.

Speaker A: You can’t be mad at someone over politics.

Speaker A: And I was thinking, well, I mean, he’s a racist.

Speaker A: He’s racist against your wife.

Speaker A: I mean, how is this not an issue?

Speaker A: It should be an issue.

Speaker A: So I’m typically on the side of make it an issue, have a confrontation, cut people off.

Speaker A: But here I’m struggling.

Speaker A: I feel like this woman is dying.

Speaker A: You’re allowed to see her.

Speaker A: That’s different from inviting her to Thanksgiving and asking her to babysit your children, right?

Speaker B: Absolutely.

Speaker B: And I fully agree with you.

Speaker B: And I hate it when people are like, it’s just politics, as if it’s a Republican Democrat thing.

Speaker B: And it’s that simple.

Speaker B: Like, I don’t like not a it’s not about that.

Speaker B: We’re not there.

Speaker B: It’s matters of life and death.

Speaker B: I mean, I feel like we’re tumbling into another Jim Crow era.

Speaker B: Like, this is not the time to be like, let’s turn a blind eye.

Speaker B: We can’t do that today.

Speaker B: But there is a line when she said, I can’t offer him any support or sympathy that I just don’t agree with.

Speaker B: I mean, this is one of those things when you’re married, you learn, and it’s a tough pill to swallow sometimes that it is not all about you.


Speaker B: And this woman was not nice to her and is obviously a racist, but that’s still your partner’s mother.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker B: And relationships with our parents can be very complicated.

Speaker B: Very.

Speaker B: Do I love this person.

Speaker B: Do I hate this person?

Speaker B: Did this person ruin my life?

Speaker B: But this person did wipe my a**.

Speaker B: And when it comes to matters of death and dying, I feel like you should be there at least to say goodbye.

Speaker B: And I think that your partner should be expected to give you the space to do that.

Speaker B: But you also have to understand that your wife is not going to share the grief with you.

Speaker A: Yeah, I don’t read anywhere in this letter that she’s like, my husband is asking why I’m not crying.

Speaker A: My husband wants me to give the eulogy.

Speaker A: He’s not asking anything of her except, I guess, permission to go see his mother a few last times.

Speaker A: The fact that he had to lie about that and sneak off to do it was just really sad for me.

Speaker B: Yeah, that’s not good.

Speaker B: And there’s a lot of things that come up in a marriage where you’re like, okay, I have to put my needs and my thoughts to the side because what my partner is experiencing right now is greater than my anger or greater than my being insulted and a parent dying.

Speaker B: I’m sorry.

Speaker B: I think that is greater than you harboring ill will.

Speaker B: I really do.

Speaker B: No matter how righteous your anger is.

Speaker A: Totally.


Speaker A: I think you can kind of tease these things apart in terms of your feelings about this outside person and the human experience that is happening and find some compassion for that.

Speaker B: Absolutely.

Speaker A: So I guess I would say to the letter writer, like, you don’t have to grieve this woman.

Speaker A: No one asked you to grieve her at all.

Speaker A: You can be kind to your husband who is losing a parent.

Speaker A: You can say, I’m sad for you, that the person who raised you is dying, and it’s hard and complicated, and I think that’s enough.

Speaker A: And I think giving him the space to go visit her without having to lie about it would be enough.

Speaker A: No one is asking you to put on an act or pretend that she was someone who she wasn’t, like, just regular humankindness, I think will get us through this period.

Speaker B: Agreed.

Speaker A: You’re listening to the Dear Prudence Show, and when we come back, we’ll be reading more of your letters.

Speaker A: Stay with us.

Speaker A: Welcome back to dear Prudence.

Speaker A: I’m here with my guest Tia to answer your letters, and the next one is titled Feeling Like a Virtual Third Wheel.

Speaker F: I have been dating this lovely man for eight months.

Speaker F: When we first started dating, I was going through a divorce finalized last month, and he was six months out of a five year, on again, off again relationship.

Speaker F: I feel I have given him ample space to work through any potential lingering feelings for his ex and felt pretty good about myself not being that desperate, clingy, insecure girlfriend who is obsessed with my partner’s past.

Speaker F: After all, we all have one, right?


Speaker F: Well, things seemed great until I started noticing little things he’d bring up about his ex, and it was happening every time we were together.

Speaker F: Once he bought a Diet Pepsi in a can, then proceeded to tell me a story about the time his ex turned him on to Diet Pepsi in a can versus diet soda in a bottle.

Speaker F: I guess his ex’s kids are friends with hers, so there is still contact between the two of them pretty regularly.

Speaker F: All of this is annoying, but I’ve handled it with grace and dignity until the other day when I finally had my fill of the ex.

Speaker F: She and I are friends on Facebook.

Speaker F: She sent me a friend request long before I even met my partner and never felt I should unfriend her simply because I’m dating her ex.

Speaker F: But Prudie, she posts selfies all day, every day stories and memories, many of them including my partner.

Speaker F: I feel like she’s trying to get his attention.

Speaker F: They’re also FB friends.

Speaker F: If I go to photos of you on my partner’s Facebook page, nearly every single photo is of the two of them.

Speaker F: I’m talking about hundreds of photos.

Speaker F: It feels like a punch to the face.

Speaker F: He has one photo of me.

Speaker F: The other day I went to my partner’s house and he wasn’t there.

Speaker F: I found out from his son that he was at his ex’s delivering PJs to his daughter, who wanted to spend the night at her house.

Speaker F: My kids and I waited 45 minutes before I sent him a text stating we were leaving.

Speaker F: That’s when he pulled up.


Speaker F: I told him how I felt as calmly as I could, and he got really defensive, saying we weren’t going to spend any more time erasing memories, and pointed out the photos I have of my ex husband.

Speaker F: There are a few if you take the time to scroll down to 2017.

Speaker F: He also stated that social media isn’t a place to gauge a relationship.

Speaker F: That’s an obvious conclusion.

Speaker F: And I’m not asking him to post hundreds of photos of me to prove his love for me.

Speaker F: Maybe just untag himself in a few hundred photos of him and his ex or save them to his phone.

Speaker F: I felt like a crazy, insecure nut job by the end of the conversation, where he wasn’t willing to make any concessions.

Speaker F: He did tell me that he chooses me and that I should focus on my family and consider our relationship a bonus feature, so to speak.

Speaker F: Three months ago he wanted to build a future with me and now we are a bonus in each other’s lives.

Speaker F: Doesn’t exactly sound like a step up in the relationship Prudence.

Speaker F: It is embarrassing when my friends and family take note of his FB page and question me about all these photos he has.

Speaker F: Some people even think he’s cheating on her with me because there is zero indication on social media that they’ve broken up.

Speaker F: Help.

Speaker F: Am I wrong to feel insecure about this?

Speaker A: You so I’m concerned about a few things and in order they are.

Speaker A: Number one, the focus on your family.

Speaker A: This relationship is just a bonus statement.

Speaker A: Problematic.

Speaker A: We’ll go back to that.

Speaker A: Number two, the long Pajama drop off.

Speaker A: Just curious what was going on.


Speaker A: Number three, the random mention of how she taught him to drink Pepsi.

Speaker A: We all know how when you have a crush on someone, you just mention them in random context and can’t stop bringing them up.

Speaker A: So put a pin in that and then honestly, number four is the photos.

Speaker A: I just feel like at this point it’s tricky because we’re at the end of an era where people posted everything on Facebook, so there’s naturally going to be more pictures of someone from your past than someone from your present.

Speaker B: That’s what I was going to say about the Facebook thing.

Speaker B: So I’ve been married twice and I was married in the height of the Facebook era.

Speaker B: And so there’s pictures of me and my daughter’s father, my ex husband.

Speaker B: I never felt the need to change that because our circumstances changed.

Speaker B: It was just a part of our history.

Speaker B: Neither one of us has ever.

Speaker B: And like you said in the past three, four, five years, we don’t post that much on Facebook.

Speaker B: Our generation, really.

Speaker B: And so I barely have any pictures of my husband now.

Speaker B: That being said, this guy is still into his ex.

Speaker A: Yes.

Speaker B: And may even still be dating her.

Speaker B: He’s treating the letter writer like the other woman.

Speaker A: Totally.

Speaker B: It’s almost that very cliched thing when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Speaker B: That’s what he’s doing.

Speaker B: Listen, when you are in a functioning, loving relationship, your partner is going to want to do everything to make you comfortable, to make you feel seen and heard and validated.


Speaker B: When the relationship is real and functioning the way it’s supposed to, you don’t question all this stuff, right?

Speaker A: You’re not counting Facebook pictures.

Speaker B: Absolutely.

Speaker B: Everything else.

Speaker B: You’re not counting Facebook pictures.

Speaker B: You’re not worried, honestly, about your ex dropping pajamas know, at the ex’s house because the kids are friends and you know her and it’s all functioning and healthy and everybody knows what’s up.

Speaker B: But that’s not what’s happening here.

Speaker A: Not at all.

Speaker B: He was there far too long.

Speaker B: He told her to focus on her family.

Speaker A: I mean, that’s my number one.

Speaker A: That’s what I can’t get over.

Speaker B: He’s basically like, go get a hobby.

Speaker A: Can you find something to fill your time?

Speaker A: Because this relationship is not going to be it.

Speaker B: Yeah, because yeah, I’m not going to be that for you.

Speaker A: Listen to the words the man is telling you.

Speaker A: And if you need more information, I think a good sort of opening for that conversation would be to ask him, what kind of divorced relationship do you plan to have?

Speaker A: What do you think it’s going to look like?

Speaker A: How do you envision this looking in terms of your emotional connection, your physical contact, your communication?

Speaker A: And I guarantee you he’s going to say something like, well, we have kids.

Speaker A: I’m going to spend a lot of time with her, and I’m going to pick up the phone every time she calls.

Speaker A: And, yeah, she’s my first priority.


Speaker A: And he might throw in something like, we don’t get along.

Speaker A: It’s just for the kids.

Speaker A: But you need to listen to what he’s telling you about how every day is going of luck, because it’s not good.

Speaker B: No.

Speaker B: And that sort of like, I’ve been there, that lingering feeling, like, in your stomach, like, I’m not first, I’m second, or maybe fifth.

Speaker B: And you have to listen to that.

Speaker A: Totally.

Speaker A: And the letter writer’s statement.

Speaker A: I felt pretty good about myself not being that desperate, clingy, insecure girlfriend who’s obsessed with my partner’s past.

Speaker A: When you’re at the moment when you’re actively trying not to identify as that person, you’re kind of already in a bad place.

Speaker A: I’ve definitely been there before, too.

Speaker A: I’m really not being clingy.

Speaker A: I’m not being jealous.

Speaker A: I really have not at all been, like, a controlling person.

Speaker A: And it’s because if you were paying attention to the facts, you would be.

Speaker A: That’s your default in this situation.

Speaker A: Because it makes sense based on what he’s doing.

Speaker B: Yeah, exactly.

Speaker B: And the thing is and the thing I wish I could have told myself 1020 years ago about dating, like, life is hard enough if a relationship is making you feel like an insane person.

Speaker B: If you’re questioning every move this guy makes, this ain’t it.

Speaker B: Why make your life more complicated?

Speaker B: It’s supposed to feel good.

Speaker B: You’re supposed to feel held emotionally, spiritually, astrologically.

Speaker B: You’re supposed to feel safe.

Speaker B: And she doesn’t feel safe here.

Speaker A: Right.


Speaker A: And so I guess to answer the direct question, am I wrong to feel insecure about this?

Speaker A: No.

Speaker A: Like, insecurity is painted as a bad feeling, but in some situations, when someone’s not giving you the actual concrete stuff, you need to feel secure.

Speaker A: It is appropriate, and it is here.

Speaker A: So feel insecure.

Speaker A: But just as a note, that doesn’t mean you bully him into, like, shorter Pajama drop offs and editing Facebook.

Speaker A: It means that you move on to someone who makes you feel good.

Speaker A: This is Dear Prudence, we need to take a break, but when we come back, more letters from you and advice from us.

Speaker A: Stay tuned.

Speaker A: I’m Janae, and you’re listening to dear Prudence.

Speaker A: Tia and I are about to tackle our last question for the day.

Speaker A: Tia, are you ready?

Speaker B: I’m ready.

Speaker B: Let’s go.

Speaker A: Okay, good, because I picked this one, hoping that you would answer it entirely.

Speaker A: The letter is titled chow for now.

Speaker G: I’m a 30 something grad student in a foreign language program away from my home campus for the summer.

Speaker G: I have made many friends of all ages and have had a wonderful learning experience so far.

Speaker G: However, because of the pandemic and generally being a grad student who worked and waited a few years before pursuing my PhD, I’m older than most of the people in my home and summer programs.

Speaker G: I am craving the excitement of a summer romance and romance generally, and have developed a crush on a very cute staff member, not a professor who was in his mid 20s.


Speaker G: After getting broken up with at the top of the year, I yearn to fall in love, or at least in a cute romance, but am a bit rusty with wording, especially given I historically have tended to date men who are older than me.

Speaker G: We are all also required to speak the foreign language we are learning, and I’m not yet an expert.

Speaker G: Do you have any advice for how this early 30s cutie can spark up some heat, potentially with a younger man and enjoy herself for the rest of the season?

Speaker A: So as someone who’s written fiction about love and romance, I just thought you might have some cute ideas here.

Speaker B: Yes.

Speaker B: I think the most obvious one is, can you help me with the language?

Speaker B: She could just say, I’m having such a great time.

Speaker B: I’m loving what I’m studying.

Speaker B: I’m loving living here, but my big thing is that I’m just not conversational yet in the language, and so I really want to get some practice instead of studying language in an academic way.

Speaker B: Do you want to meet me for coffee?

Speaker A: I can picture it happening already at.

Speaker B: A little coffee shop.

Speaker A: Yeah.

Speaker B: Or like a drink.

Speaker A: Yeah.

Speaker A: Or show me around town.

Speaker B: Show me around town.

Speaker A: I want to do some tourist destinations, zooming out a little.

Speaker A: Do you think you can just decide to have an exciting summer romance, or does it just kind of have to happen organically?

Speaker B: Oh, no, you can decide.

Speaker A: You can decide.

Speaker A: Okay.


Speaker A: Because I was definitely feeling like, I don’t know.

Speaker A: I don’t know if you can just intentionally make a meet cute or a start dating cute happen.

Speaker A: It just feels like when it happens, it’s always unexpected.

Speaker B: Oh, no, you can make any of this happen.

Speaker B: We are so much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.

Speaker B: Honestly, you absolutely can wake up and be like, this is going to be the best summer of my life.

Speaker B: Or make a list like, this summer, I’m going to have a one night stand this summer.

Speaker B: I’m.

Speaker B: Going to try a food I’ve never tried before and go down the list.

Speaker A: And do those things, especially because she already has her target.

Speaker B: She has the person.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker B: It’s a lot harder when you don’t have that, though.

Speaker B: I do know girls that have been like, I’m moving to Greece for a month with the wind and tinder on my back.

Speaker B: And then they will find Know in a safe way.

Speaker B: But, yeah, it is absolutely within her power to have a fabulous summer with this guy.

Speaker B: And guys his age love a slightly older or much older woman being like, come over here.

Speaker A: I was going to ask you about that.

Speaker A: So it’s a mid 30s woman, mid 20s, man.

Speaker A: It made me think about The Perfect Fine because it’s like a little bit less than the gap between Gabrielle Union’s character and her guy Eric.

Speaker A: So do you find that gap, like, normal anywhere?

Speaker A: Verging on creepy or weird?

Speaker A: Healthy, fun, good.


Speaker B: I think it’s healthy and fun for both the guy and the woman.

Speaker B: And if you think about it, think of your male friends.

Speaker B: Most of them, if you ask them, had an experience with an older woman in their early 20s or that really shaped them.

Speaker A: Oh, my God.

Speaker A: My husband and I talked about this on a Slate Plus segment.

Speaker A: I learned live on the podcast that he had one of these experiences I never knew about until it came up in a question.

Speaker B: Yeah, most guys do, and they look back at it fondly and it’s exciting for the older woman.

Speaker B: There’s something so intoxicating about having a younger guy hang on your every word.

Speaker B: Be fascinated by your womanhood.

Speaker B: Be thrilled by how comfortable you are with your sexuality versus a 25 year old or a 21 year old, because we do get more comfortable as we get older, and that’s exciting for them and it’s exciting for you.

Speaker A: Okay, so letter writer Tia thinks you can make this happen.

Speaker A: The answer is ask for language lessons.

Speaker A: Plan B.

Speaker A: Tell him that you would like to have a fun summer romance and just put your cards on the table and he’ll probably jump at the opportunity.

Speaker A: Report back to us.

Speaker A: I want to hear how this goes.

Speaker A: Sounds fun.

Speaker A: Okay, those are all the questions we have for this week.

Speaker A: It’s been fun and hopefully helpful.

Speaker A: Thank you, Tia.

Speaker B: Thank you.

Speaker B: This was so much fun.

Speaker B: Thank you for having me.


Speaker A: Go watch the film adaptation of Tia’s best selling novel the Perfect Find on Netflix starring Gabrielle Union.

Speaker A: You can also pre order her upcoming novel, A Love Song for Ricky Wilde, out next year.

Speaker A: Do you need help getting along with partners, relatives, coworkers, and people in general?

Speaker A: Write to me.

Speaker A: Go to forward slash Prudy.

Speaker A: That’s forward slash PR udie.

Speaker A: The Dear Prudence Column publishes every Thursday.

Speaker B: If you’d like to hear your question answered on the podcast, we are looking for letter writers who would be comfortable recording their questions for the show.

Speaker B: You can stay anonymous.

Speaker A: Dear Prudence is produced by Sierra Spragleyricks with a special thanks to Maura Curry editorial help from Paola de Verona.

Speaker A: Daisy Rosario is Senior Supervising Producer, and Alicia Montgomery is Slate’s VP of Audio.

Speaker A: I’m your dear prudence, janae Desmond Harris.

Speaker A: Until next time.

Speaker C: Thank you so much for being a Slate Plus member.

Speaker C: And since you’re a member, you get the awesome perk of a weekly segment where I’ll be answering an extra question.

Speaker C: That’s right, you get even more Prudy.

Speaker C: This week, I’m joined by Slate’s own Joel Anderson.

Speaker C: He is the host of Slow Burn, seasons three, six, and our current season, season eight on Clarence Thomas.

Speaker C: Or you may know him from Slate’s sports podcast, hang up and Listen.

Speaker C: He also happens to be my husband.

Speaker C: This letter is titled do I Smell Infidelity?

Speaker F: My fiance is now a Detroit police officer.


Speaker F: He’s ten months into his career and has already seen it all.

Speaker F: The stress is unreal.

Speaker F: I’m super proud of my fiance for taking a huge daily risk to take care of us.

Speaker F: We’re all proud, and things were going good until he was assigned his first partner, a female partner.

Speaker F: That’s when the jealousy kicked in for me.

Speaker F: I showed it almost every time I knew he was working with Officer O.

Speaker F: He has told me about her and says she is a great police officer.

Speaker F: There are not that many good police officers that are actually willing to work and work hard at his precinct.

Speaker F: Officer O is one of those good, hardworking cops.

Speaker F: They hang out outside of work, and recently we’ve been fighting every day for about three months.

Speaker F: Recently he’s been saying he wants to take a break so the b******* can stop.

Speaker F: But he hasn’t made anything official.

Speaker F: Well, he came home tonight from her house, seemed irritated.

Speaker F: He was not himself.

Speaker F: He didn’t even want to kiss me before he went to sleep.

Speaker F: He kept saying he was just tired and wanted to go to bed.

Speaker F: Something just seemed off.

Speaker F: He always jokes about me smelling his private parts to prove he doesn’t sleep with her.

Speaker F: He always lets me.

Speaker F: But tonight when I jokingly asked, he said sure in an irritated tone and walked right past me.

Speaker F: After asking repeatedly for a kiss, he kept saying no.

Speaker F: So I went in for one and he covered his face.


Speaker F: He finally let me kiss his cheek and felt me smell his face.

Speaker F: And he got mad.

Speaker F: I’m at my wits end.

Speaker B: Please help.

Speaker C: I feel like we’re missing the answer to what did his face smell like?

Speaker H: Well, I mean, hold on.

Speaker H: Is there really smelling the private parts going on here?

Speaker C: I mean, she didn’t get to do she didn’t get a chance to do it tonight like she normally does.

Speaker C: Let’s talk about all the levels of things that are wrong.

Speaker H: You reached out in earnestness, and we’re going to be generous to you, but it seems like you have really bad judgment.

Speaker C: Oh, say more.

Speaker H: Well, I mean, first of all, you married.

Speaker H: You consider marrying a cop, so there.

Speaker C: Is that the only thing I have written in my notes, which I wouldn’t have said on a regular Prudie episode, but I will because plus and it’s fewer people to get mad at me.

Speaker C: I said, I mean, he’s a cop.

Speaker A: This is probably the least of your problems.

Speaker H: I’m just saying, look, man, we are infected by this particular bias.

Speaker H: And so I know that you think that there are some good police officers, and I would love to know what.

Speaker A: A great police officer well, can I.

Speaker C: Just say that in 2023, we’re three years out from 2020 when national awareness was really, really raised about police misconduct and brutality.

Speaker C: And the letter writer’s explanation of what makes a good police officer is not like he never wants to kill people or beat them senseless for no reason.

Speaker C: And he treats everyone the same.

Speaker C: He’s actually willing to work hard.


Speaker C: That’s what makes a good apple, is willing to pick up extra shifts.

Speaker H: I mean, in that Detroit precinct, you know, they are just pulling black folks over all day long.

Speaker H: That’s him working hard.

Speaker C: So, yeah, he’s a hoff in Detroit.

Speaker C: There are other things we should be worried about other than whether he’s willing to work hard.

Speaker C: But that’s neither here nor right.

Speaker H: Why was he at our house?

Speaker H: I know that this is a police partner.

Speaker H: They’re around each other all the time.

Speaker H: But aren’t they supposed to meet up at the precinct?

Speaker H: Yeah, the car there and all that stuff.

Speaker H: Why were you at the house till late at night?

Speaker H: He wants you to think something happened.

Speaker C: Also wait, did you gloss over this?

Speaker C: He’s been saying he wants a break.

Speaker C: Yeah, he wants to break up.

Speaker C: He’s in love with his cop partner.

Speaker H: Well, I don’t even know if it’s that, but it’s just what are you getting out of this relationship?

Speaker C: Great question.

Speaker H: He’s teasing you about your insecurity here, and we can talk about whether or not your insecurity over this partner is valid or not.

Speaker H: He’s making fun of you over it and wants you to believe something has happened, and he’s, like, not even treating.

Speaker C: You well, doesn’t take your concerns seriously, accusing you of b*******.

Speaker C: You’re already lowering your standards through the floor when you’re letting him go to his female partner’s house to hang out while he’s mad at you.

Speaker H: Right.


Speaker H: You’re at a point here where you are smelling his face.

Speaker H: Is this how you want to live?

Speaker H: But it’s like, oh, your face smells like private parts.

Speaker C: Oh, my God.

Speaker H: Again, you might not have bad judgment in life, but in this particular instance, this guy has really done a number on you.

Speaker H: And it seems like maybe you should consider whether or not him asking for a break is him just saying, I want to break up with you, but I don’t have the courage to do it myself.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker C: That’s your out.

Speaker C: A lot of people end engagements.

Speaker C: It’s not that big of a deal.

Speaker C: I hope you’re not too close to the wedding.

Speaker C: I hope that cards haven’t gone out and everything, but even if they have, this is not a marriage that’s going.

Speaker A: To make you happy.

Speaker C: And the way I always ask people to think about it is like I’m sure you would say, but I love him and there’s so many good things about a relationship and I want to be with him.

Speaker C: If you’re so willing to be with someone who accuses you of b*******, who’s basically having an affair on your face and whose genitals you have to smell to see if he’s cheating and he won’t even let you imagine how great it would be to have a relationship with someone where those things weren’t an issue.

Speaker H: Right.

Speaker C: Just let yourself imagine it.

Speaker C: Think about it.

Speaker C: Thank you again for being a Slate Plus member.

Speaker C: The Dear Prudence podcast would not be possible without you.

Speaker C: Until next time.