Dear Prudence: Private Instagram messages from the boss on the company account.

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Dear Prudence,

Help! It seems my parents are intent on forcing me to reveal my kink.

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Help! My coworker thinks I’m racist because of an innocent personal habit.

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Help! My boyfriend wants his ex and their three kids to move in with us. Help! My family is calling me an old hurtful nickname in the guise of “grieving”.

I recently moved to a new country after graduating college and was fortunate enough to land a job in marketing (my field of study) in an exciting industry. One of my responsibilities is managing our social media accounts. The company Instagram account is somehow connected to my boss’s personal account, which causes me to receive notifications from his direct messages. While it’s never sexually explicit in an incriminating way, I’ve recently seen posts with several women talking about sex. This is in a different language, so some of it could be going over my head, but there are often flirtatious messages, they talk about sex, and they talk about having sex. This whole situation is complicated by the fact that my boss is having an affair with one of my co-workers. I work with both closely. I also consider them both friends, and it’s hard to find friends as a young professional in a new country. If I were my boss’s significant other, I know I’d want to be told about these kinds of messages. Should I ignore it? Discreetly notify my boss that I can see his personal messages? Flee the country?

I don’t know if the HR departments are common in your new country, but if they are, I think I’d go there in addition to vaguely marking the problem in your head: “We need to set up a business-only Instagram account so as long as it’s linked to your , I keep getting direct messages destined for Boss’s personal account.” I’m a little concerned that someone clumsy and unprofessional enough to link their work account to the Instagram they use to cheat on their girlfriend will also try to retaliate if you speak up, so I want you to have as much professional coverage as possible . . But I definitely think you should say something. This is ridiculous. —Danny M. Lavery

From: “Help! My boss doesn’t realize I can see all his sexy DMs.” (November 12, 2019)

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have been married for six years and together for 10. He was a creative director with a good income when we got engaged, but after we got married we decided that he would work to finish the movie script. He hasn’t worked since and the script has little chance of making money. I was diagnosed with infertility five years ago and we have had no success with treatment or private adoption. I have my master’s degree and a good job. But on one income and living in a high cost area, we are always struggling and can’t even afford health insurance. I love my husband, he understands me and encourages me to be creative, funny, inspired and authentic. I married him because he is fearless in his art and living with him makes me feel like everything is ahead of me. However, I have considered leaving him for all the obvious reasons: the fact that he has no real work ethic and I feel used. Recently things were terrible at work due to a meltdown, and I was coming home crying. To my surprise, my husband suggested that I drop the script, that we move out of state to be near his family where the cost of living is lower, that he get a job, and that we could adopt. I was excited! We started looking and they offered me a good job with less hours, great benefits, but much less pay. He didn’t find anything even though he’s not looking well. Then things calmed down at my current job and I may have an opportunity for an exciting advancement. I have to accept or decline the job offer very soon and I don’t know what to do.

Thanks for this important correction to the idea that all those with a passion should ditch the boring 9 to 5 and follow their muse. We read stories of people selling their novel for a million dollars or turning a cupcake recipe into an empire. Of course, there’s no point in writing a profile of the man who’s been writing a script for over half a decade and is a hopeless leech. If your husband had a story, he would have gotten up early, stayed up late, and spent weekends writing it, while still working. A goal of five pages a week would have produced a screenplay in less than a year. It’s remarkable that after marrying you and closing your income, he went to the couch with the remote control and hasn’t stirred since. You say he is a fearless artist; I say he’s made an art out of being a bum. Now you have an opportunity at your current job that you can’t pass up, and it better come with good health insurance and more money. You will need the cash because when you file for divorce, you will have to agree with your husband. You say it makes you feel like everything is ahead of you. If you stay with him, I can promise you that what lies ahead are more wasted years than those already behind. —Emily Yoffe

From: “Help! My husband has spent our entire marriage writing a script. Should I leave him?” (November 6, 2014)

Dear Prudence,

I am a 30 year old female who returned from a stay abroad last year. I lived in a remote village in a developing country and there I met a local man and fell in love. We dated and lived together for almost two years while I was in his country. I didn’t tell anyone in my immediate family about the relationship because I know they wouldn’t have approved. This man asked me to marry him about a month before I left the country and I never gave him an answer. Since I’ve been back we talk every day and I’ve visited him once. We discussed at length about her coming to live with me in my country, but I can’t afford to go through the visa process, which would require us to get married. He has been saving money with the intention of coming here, but it is not a huge amount considering the salary where he is from. The biggest obstacle I have in moving the relationship forward is the fear of putting myself in a bad situation. He is 40 years old, only finished the ninth grade and does not speak the main language where I live. I’m not sure I can find a job and I’m not willing to support him for the time it would take to learn the language and find something in my country. I’ve never met anyone as loving and genuine as him, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. Should I take a big leap of faith or end the relationship?

I’m a little more worried about this guy put yourself in a bad position. He’s saving money to take a big risk, but you’re not sure you’re ready to fill out the visa paperwork, you haven’t told your family about him, and you’ve given him total radio silence about his proposal, not even alone “I’m not sure what my answer is. I need some time to think about it.” If you’re not prepared to support him for a move that seems fairly likely to result in at least medium-term unemployment, then have no intention of telling your family that you’re not even dating and can’t have a conversation with him. About your concerns about getting married, I think the kindest thing you can do at this point is to let him know you’re not ready to commit to him and go your separate ways. – DL

From: “Help! The man I love wants to move to another country for me. I don’t know if it’s worth it.” (January 6, 2020)

Dear Prudence,

A few months ago, in order to liven up our sex lives, I convinced my wife of four years to try swinging. I searched online and found a normal looking couple that I thought would be a good fit for us to start with. We met, had dinner, went to a hotel and swapped partners. I am a fit man, quite handsome and well endowed. I was shocked and dismayed when the other man, who is older, a little overweight and bald, stripped. He was much older than me, and for two hours I had to watch him make multiple attacks, screams and moans at my wife. Since that experience (which we have not repeated), I have not been able to look at my wife the same way. I can’t get that night out of my head. It is affecting my work and my ability to be happy. Sometimes I feel like I could punch my wife. I want a divorce. The few friends I’ve confided in about this say I’m being unfair, but I don’t see how I could ever be happy in my marriage again. Is there any way around this?

The next time you consider swinging, choose your new partners more carefully. You’re looking for an ad that says something like, “She’s slim, stacked, and sexy. He’s fat, bald, hung like a gnat, and suffers from erectile dysfunction.” How sweet for your wife, who you forced into this, that the male member of your “normal partner” ended up being a big dick. Maybe you’ve seen him having the best sex of his life while neglecting your own homework. Possibly your wife was putting on some show just to get the chain off you. Now you want to divorce her, after punching her. If you think you are actually a danger to your wife, you need to tell her and leave for her safety. Sounds like quite a prize to me, and since you’ve obviously behaved abominably since your meeting, I hope your wife has already secured the services of the best divorce lawyer in town. However, if you both want to save your marriage, you need the help of a mental health professional. You have fallen into an obsessive spiral that is destroying you. You need medication, meditation, or some intervention to get your thoughts back. Whether your wife is willing to rebuild your marriage or not, you owe her an apology. Tell her that you made a terrible mistake and that you hate that you pressured her into having sex with another man. Then check out Aesop’s fable about the the turtle and the eagle, which is a good summary of the consequences of getting what you wanted. – Hey

From: “I regret becoming a swinger.” (August 4, 2011)

More advice from Dear Prudence

My boyfriend of eight months wants to hire an ex as a cleaning lady. We don’t live together. They dated briefly and have remained friendly.

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