June 25, 2018
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Should my daughter and I double date?

Emily Yoffe
By Emily Yoffe, Slate

Dear Prudence,

I’ve been divorced for five years, raised a wonderful daughter who is in her fourth year of college, and started dating a wonderful man one year ago. Things were going great for me, my daughter and my relationship with “Tim.” Tim and I were set up by a mutual friend who is a professor at the college my daughter attends. My daughter took a class from him last year on my suggestion. While in that class she met and started dating a fellow classmate who decided to take the class because of a suggestion from his father. . . .

Yep you guessed it! My daughter and I are dating a father and son. I feel like I am in a horribly written daytime soap opera. My daughter had met my boyfriend early in our relationship but was only just recently invited to meet her boyfriend’s father — he is a widower of 10 years. She was in shock when she realized it was the same man, and I still am after finding out.

I guess the question is what to do? Continue with our relationships? I feel like all four of us are getting serious and marriage has been talked about between both couples as well. Is it considered a major social scandal to have your daughter-in-law be your own daughter?

— Potential Mother-in-Law Mother.

Dear Potential,

You two couples should have a double wedding and instead of the Wedding March play, “I’m My Own Grandpa.” It would be amusing if your daughter and her husband became stepsiblings, etc. but it’s hardly a scandal. Both couples getting married would certainly solve the dilemma of deciding which in-law gets to see the kids at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The only red flag I see here is that your daughter and his son are a little young to be settling down. Many people do successfully marry their college sweethearts, but I don’t see why they would rush into it. Young marriage does put people at a higher risk of divorce. If your daughter comes to you for advice about getting married upon graduation, separate out what you say from your own concern about how good a stepson her boyfriend would be.

Dear Prudie,

Thomas, my good friend of over 10 years, is getting married shortly, and I was excited to attend with my significant other. Then he called and professed his love for me, rather than for his soon-to-be bride. I laughed it off as if it was a joke. (It wasn’t.) Thomas and I have never been more than friends. I have never given him a reason to believe otherwise, and while I’m not close to his fiancée, I like her a lot and think they make a great couple. Should I tell her, even though I really don’t want to? Should I even attend the wedding?

— Baffled Guest

Dear Baffled,

Your friend Thomas is not the only person to walk down the aisle thinking that life would be a lot more fun if the ring were going on the finger of someone other than their intended. Feeling this way is obviously an inauspicious start to a marriage, but I’m not sure it’s a certain disaster in the making. It could be that when facing what should be a death-do-us-part decision, other unexplored possibilities start to appear more bright. Now that Thomas is on the cusp of not being able to turn back, he’s reviewing a decade of declarations to you left unsaid, of passes never made, and he finally needed to find out if you might have been feeling the same way all these years.

That you treated his revelation as a punch line to a bizarre joke let him know where he stands. That may allow him to proceed, finally, with some peace. Don’t say anything to his fiancée, and quietly take your seat at the ceremony. If, at the last moment, he jilts the poor woman, at least you will be one person in attendance who knows why.

Dear Prudence,

Twelve years ago when I was a 14-year-old girl, my parents sent me to a tutor to improve my grades. The tutor was a man in his 30s. One evening he stood up, closed the blinds, and locked the door. He moved his chair next to mine, grabbed my hand and began stroking it. He didn’t let go when I tried to pull away, and told me to focus on my work so that he could focus on what he was examining. After our session ended I told no one. But I convinced my parents to let me stop attending his classes, and rationalized that I had overinterpreted his actions.

Then last month a teen-ager I mentor mentioned that a friend of hers had a tutor — this man! — who tricked her into getting into his car. He drove her to the mountains to “enjoy the sights” while he commented on her looks. I also heard that another girl had been hit on by him.

As far as I know, none of this has been reported to the police. I’m unsure how to proceed. I don’t want to approach these other victims directly. I’m afraid that if I tell the police what happened to me they’ll say it was too long ago, there’s no evidence, or what happened wasn’t inappropriate. However, these recent events make me feel sick that this predator is still out there. What should I do?

— Distressed

Dear Distressed,

Please report him to the authorities — the police, the prosecutor’s office, or both. It could be that someone has a file of a few creepy incidents, such as the ones you describe, that have been collected over the years. It may be that each event hasn’t risen to the level of being actionable, but your information could be galvanizing, particularly since attitudes about what crosses the line have changed since you were his student. Think of how many girls since you have felt a chill up their spine when he flipped the blinds and closed and locked the door. This predator may think he has been careful to keep just to the right side of the law, but the episodes you describe could possibly constitute false imprisonment or kidnapping.

Tell the police or prosecutor that you were moved to act because you just heard of two girls who were recently preyed upon. Say that you don’t know them, but do have their names and you need some guidance about revealing this information. It may be that you will want to let the teen-ager who told you about her friend know that you contacted law enforcement regarding the tutor. You can explain a similar thing happened to you and it’s time for action to be taken against him.

What a malign manipulator he is, knowing how to gain girls’ trust, exploiting it, and then leaving girls, like you at the time, wondering if they somehow did something wrong or misunderstood what was happening. Imagine how many victims might come forward if he’s finally caught.

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

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