Need Advice? Ask Emily Yoffe

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 10:36 AM

Slate's advice columnist, Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, will be answering your manners and morals questions and offering her advice throughout the summer on the Brian Lehrer Show. Our plan is to take an advice question from one of you each week and put you on the air with Emily. We'll also gather advice for you from other listeners too. So if you would like to be that person who gets to ask the question, please ask your question here in the comments section. (Reminder: If you'd like to remain anonymous, just choose a fake name. But we would want you to come on the air, so include your real email address so we can get in touch with you. Your email address will not be public.)


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Comments [24]

Frances from Bloomfield, NJ

I am curious about you using the name Carlos in your comment. As a Latina, I feel you are assuming that a Latino man would be more likely to misbehave! Am I misunderstanding the usage of that phrase?

Jul. 25 2013 10:59 AM
Blue Jay

When is it appropriate to inform the supervisor (who is not on site at this time) that a coworker is leaving work early?
The person consistently leaves early, from 30 minutes to one hour, sometimes two hours. The rest of us are amazed at this person's chutzpah. I would never care except that young adults are involved.


Jul. 17 2013 03:03 PM
confusedwife from Queens, NY

I seem to have the opposite problem from the "norm" of a husband wanting more sex than the wife. In my case, my husband is totally not interested. Our sex life was never HUGE but it was satisfying for the first 8 years or so of our marriage, but now (almost 23 years together)we have almost no physical contact. I've been hesitant to raise the issue because (to be honest) there's some ego involved (what if he's just interested in ME?). But, as Emily said on the show today, I'm not sure I want to spend the next 20 or 30 years (given the longevity in my family) celibate. Some days I feel like things are "fine" - he's a good honest stable man who cares for me and our kids a lot. Other times I feel like I will jump out of my skin if someone doesn't touch me for more than a brief kiss goodbye.

What do I do?

Jul. 11 2013 12:48 PM

I've read/listened to some of Emily Yoffe's so-called advice and I can say she is largely the reason I ignore Slate - an absolute trifling pandering elitist waste of time. Nothing more than an affluent but misguided Dear Abby - leave such stuff to commercial broadcasting. I would rather listen to the sad musings of Michelle Bachmann or Al Sharpton than such affectation, even Tony Roberts. Gabfest et al are the reason I will NEVER contribute to WNYC until things change. This is just another example of how out of touch WNYC is with the NYC body politic at large. Public radio shouldn't be in the business of peddling trite faux-pop psychology, especially on the Brian Lehrer Show. That taints one of last remaining dignified reasons to routinely turn the dial towards 93.9.

Why not bring Rudy Guiliani on to give advice to immigrants? How about giving Al Roker a weather spot next to Amy Eddings? Maybe Dr. Phil in the mornings next to Soterios?

Are you folks really this out of touch with what local public radio should promote? And I used to think only WBAI was out of touch with the NYC audience.

Jul. 03 2013 10:13 PM
Vicki from LES

Advice for Emily Yoffe: Please don't universalize your experience. Despite your assertion that "we've all had the experience" of discovering spinach in our teeth after a party, and wondering why our spouses hadn't alerted us, I can assure Emily that this single woman (and I'm sure many other listeners as well) somehow missed out on that one. Isn't thoughtfulness the bedrock of etiquette?

And a suggestion for Franco from Brooklyn: Take the un-rung-up ink cartridge to any cashier and just buy it again.

Jun. 29 2013 07:32 AM
KC from Montreal/NY

My 19 yr. old son, who since 10 had his sights set on a grand college education that cost both his parents a relationship amongst other things in his quest to getting there via 2 countries and several locales. However, since his last year at a $63,000/yr. college he opted to attend, spend hrs. nightly from 10pm-6am in cyberspace with a 16 yr. old girlfriend he got involved with 2 weeks prior to leaving for college. Needless to say his usual stellar academic & athletic performance plummeted into surprising mediocrity, even if factoring in the otherwise 'expected' change of college life. His demeanor completely changed since turning 18 after his last year of private high school in Hawai'i in a cushy tiny town of privileged youngsters (including his girlfriend, whom I do not know). He not only attributes his current mediocre performance to the mediocrity of his college mates and faculty (laughable at best), but thinks starting out in small town of comfort and taking a leave from school (presumably near his girl & her supporting family in this cause) is the best way to his future....pretty obvious to his parents that the heart is ruling out the mind in this young man. He insists being 18 (19 this month) qualifies him to make his own decisions and live his life. Both his parents have concluded paying for a costly education while he spent it buried in cyber puppylove 6,000 miles away is not what we will support, but that education is utmost important at this point of his life and we will support him when and if he decides to be serious about studying again. The question here is his father feels I should inform the parents of the underage girlfriend of the texting/skyping matter for many reasons, while I hesitate to further involve parties I don't know. What would be your advice?

Jun. 27 2013 12:17 PM
Shiro from Yokosuka, Japan

I am in Japan as the only foreigner in a rather traditional company. Its the end of the business calendar so there are tons of going away parties for tranferred employees. I caught TWICE this week by the "envelop man" for the equivalent of $60. Pretty frustrating since I didn't even know the people leaving, and no warning of these parties let alone the intention to go. At the end of the day, I am an outsider on the bottom of the totem pole trying to fit it.

Jun. 27 2013 12:00 PM
Marc from New Jersey

RE: The woman letting her daughter go to the Gay Pride Parade. If this woman has not gotten past the point of thinking that people either do or don't act gay, how can she possibly be in a position to logically determine whether it's appropriate for her daughter to attend? I'm gay--what the heck do I or not do that makes me "act gay"? Emily, you really should have called her out on this. It's inexcusable that this woman still lives with a 1970's viewpoint on being gay.

Jun. 27 2013 11:57 AM

I am moving abroad to Vietnam to teach for a year. Although my job is only a year, I know that when I finish I want to stay for more than just one year. However, I feel guilty about leaving my parents. My Mom is very claustrophobic and cannot fly more than 4 hours. My Dad works a lot and can't take too much time off to visit. Should I follow my dream or is family more important?

Jun. 27 2013 11:53 AM
William from Manhattan

There is no justification for "fashion vigilantism", and besides it is not illegal for a woman to go topless in NYC. Look it up.

Jun. 27 2013 11:49 AM
Shereen from Brooklyn

Re: the incident with the woman in the cafe - why on earth would the "issue" rest on the shoulders of either woman instead of the man who was inappropriately staring? This to me is just another example of blatant sexism and the "advice" places responsibility on the wrong individuals. People have a right to wear whatever they choose without being sexually harassed. We need a serious paradigm shift here.

Jun. 27 2013 11:43 AM
No Names Here from Brooklyn

Any advice on maintaining a friendship with a co-worker with whom there is an acknowledged mutual attraction? We're both in committed relationships. We sit near each other at work and interact on most days. And we know we like each other. Trying to keep the unavoidable awkwardness to a minimum.

Jun. 27 2013 11:42 AM
Meryl from Long Island

My husband and I were at a Bar Mitzvah in April. This boy is the son of a couple we are friendly with and we gave a cash gift. We did not receive a Thank You note from the young man and we were wondering if when we have dinner with the parents this summer if we should mention it to them?

Jun. 27 2013 11:25 AM
Morgan Grayson from NYC

While at a local cafe, a woman at the next table, who was a mature woman, probably in her 60s, got up to get more coffee. As she returned to her table, I noticed that her dark-colored, summer-weight sweater was quite transparent and one could clearly see her braless breasts. She had a jacket on the back of her chair, but since it was 90 degrees, I doubted she would be wearing it. She was very absorbed in her study of a particular subject and probably did not notice a fellow sitting nearby staring at her chest. I debated whether to let her know that the sweater was transparent--I would have wanted to know--but i also did not wish to embarrass her or disrupt her concentration, so I said nothing. Was I right to just mind my own business and let this lovely woman walk around half exposed? Thank you.

Jun. 26 2013 11:57 AM
Marinell [...] from Manhattan

I was just at a house a friend rented on Long Island and she has two kids, similar ages to my son who is 3. We were there 2 nights and she made food for her kids earlier than we ate, around 5, and she didn't ask or make any food for my son. The first night I thought it was a mistake but she did it again the second night. It was weird. I felt very left out and it's not like we didn't bring a lot of food for 2 days to share, we did, we even made homemade bagels one of the days and brought gravlox. It is still bugging me. Should I say something to her?

Jun. 20 2013 12:28 PM
kim from brooklyn

Yes, this is an American problem!! As an Asian person, I find that, with other Asian people, the though of splitting the tab NEVER comes up. Neither does it matter who made the invitation. Both people reach for the tab, truly intending to get it, and the quickest one is graced with the opportunity to treat the other.

Jun. 20 2013 11:58 AM
bryan from nj

I must be blessed with great friends because everytime we go out everyone pays their share and then some. We usually have to give back some to everyone because there is too much in the pot - even with a generous tip!

Jun. 20 2013 11:57 AM
Howard from Brooklyn

How about the vegan or vegetarian vs the lobster crowd?

Jun. 20 2013 11:57 AM
Franco from Brooklyn

Dear Emily,

I went to Staples the other day and purchased 2 ink cartridges. When I was in the parking lot, I noticed that the cashier charged me for only 1 cartridge. I went back to pay for the second one. The cashier said I should take "the discount" for fear of her getting fired. Not to say anything. I didn't not want to get this young woman fired, so I left without paying for the second cartridge. I feel terrible! What should I have done?

Jun. 20 2013 11:56 AM
kim from brooklyn

Oh, this advice sounds cheap and ungenerous and un-intimate! When the invitation is extended, if you are tight with money and are concerned, say, "I'm on a bit of a budget right now, so I think I need to decline!" And if the host then says, "Oh, no, we'll pick up the tab," then great. Accept graciously and with sincere thanks. Otherwise, decline.

Jun. 20 2013 11:55 AM

In my opinion, when you accept an invitation to a dinner at a restaurant with a group of people, you either a) know that you'll have to do the uncomfortable thing of insisting that you only pay for what you order or b) accepting that you'll be splitting the bill. If you can't afford the restaurant and don't want to deal with the first option, then just don't go to the dinner!

But ultimately I think it's best to hang out with people that you can be honest with about money!

Jun. 20 2013 11:55 AM
Marie from NYC

I'm curious about if I should say something to a friend who is a serial 'visitor'...Through the years she and her child have been invited to our country home many times and have visited a few. It has now become clear to me that she is a serial 'visitor' and goes from friend to friend (sometimes even overseas!) staying at summer homes of others. She does not own a summer home so therefor cannot reciprocate...It seems she is turning into a bit of a user...My instinct is to not say something but its such an obvious pattern.

Jun. 20 2013 11:51 AM

i hear you, anonymous NJ, does sound like a tacky move. as someone who is also often financially challenged i loathe the group dinners where it always seems to be the people who eat and drink the most who want to split evenly, when i've had a salad and water. i have also been in the same awkward situation with fumbling at the end of the dinner trying to scrounge up money and feeling like i've supported others expensive lifestyles.

dear emily,
is there a polite way to deal with this?

thank you.

Jun. 19 2013 11:48 AM
Anonymous from NJ

Dear Emily,

I received an email from a very casual acquaintance that they (a couple) were "hosting" a surprise dinner to celebrate a mutual friend. They chose the restaurant, then changed the restaurant. At the restaurant, they proceeded to order a number of dishes for the table, to be shared by all. They took charge of the whole affair, though did welcome some minimal input from other guests about food preferences.

When the check arrived, they wanted to split it evenly among the guests (not including the birthday girl, of course). There were 7 adults, among whom I was the only single person with no children. I was asked, at first, to pay the same amount as these couples with children (which included the "hosts"). I was shocked, having eaten what amounted to an appetizer's worth of food since only one of the many dishes chosen appealed to me, and no alcohol, that I would now pay around $55, and expressed some surprise. One of the more sensible adults reminded the others that I was one person, with no children.

Emily, I'm someone who's been out of the workforce, unfortunately, for the last two years. Had I not understood the word "host" to mean that they were throwing the party and footing the bill, I would have found a reason to decline the invitation, knowing that I can't afford to eat out frequently, and found some other way to honor my friend's birthday. As I had only my credit card with me, it also put me in a very publicly awkward position.

Their ordering of food for the table reinforced my belief that they were truly "hosting". Even if I had been able to afford this, if I'm paying for my meal, then I would prefer to order my own dish, rather than have the meal chosen for me by "hosts". And I don't even know what to say about the expectation that the bill is split equally--how can they assume that everyone present is in a position to subsidize everyone else? This was NOT a group of close friends. It appeared to me that only two couples knew each other well. It was my first time meeting most of the people at the table.

I thought this was an incredibly tacky move on their part. I won't go so far as to call it a bait-and-switch, because I don't think it was malicious or sneaky. I just think they are a truly clueless, well-to-do couple, used to their other upper-west-side well-to-do friends, and simply don't get how the other half lives (or that words like "host" have actual meaning). I've "hosted" parties at my home in better financial days--I didn't charge a cover or ask guests to cough up cash as they left. Is it somehow different at a restaurant?

I'd like to put the word out that it's important for people to be clear in these situations, especially considering that for many people these days, you can't make assumptions about their financial situation. And if you're NOT paying for everyone, then for heaven's sake, let people order their own entree, and don't expect *them* to pay for *you* or your kids, or your 3 martinis.

Jun. 19 2013 11:33 AM

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