A sunbathing nude neighbor, a friend snooping through pictures, and a daughter meeting her mother’s new boyfriend.
This article originally appeared at GoLocalProv.com.
My next-door neighbor moved to the United States from Germany last year, where I understand what I’m writing to you about is not uncommon or an issue. She likes to sunbathe nude. I found out that she likes to do this when I found my two kids, both teenagers, spying on her. She only does this in her backyard, which is surrounded by a high fence, but the kids’ rooms are on the second floor of our house, and one of them does look into her yard.
This woman is well into middle age and she is very average or typical in terms of the shape she is in. There doesn’t seem to be anything sexual or exhibitionist in what she is doing. I think she just really likes lying in the sun. So how do I explain to her that that’s not something we do here, at least not completely naked? She and her husband have been nice neighbors and I don’t want to offend her.
Dear Naturist’s Neighbor,
I think it’s your kids you should be talking to, not your neighbor.
She was sunbathing behind a high fence – i.e., in private on her own property. Why should she have to stop doing something she enjoys if she’s not foisting the view on anyone else? If your kids had stood on a stool to see over her fence, would your response be the same?
What your kids did was totally normal, and it would be an extremely uncommon teenager who would do otherwise. But your response should be to have a talk with them about respecting other people’s privacy, possibly supplemented with digressions about Europeans’ different attitudes towards nudity and the importance of liberally using sunscreen.
I was at a friend’s house recently waiting for her to get ready to go out. While she was getting dressed, I was bored and for no particular reason picked up her phone and started scrolling through her pictures. She is a great and avid photographer and she travels a lot, and like I said, I was just bored and looking for a distraction. And I found a couple of photos from a couple of years ago that really have me wondering. They were both of her with the husband of a friend of ours. Both pictures look like they were taken by a third person and my friend and my other friend’s husband are just smiling at the camera, not with their arms around each other or anything, but with a definite look like they are together. I put the phone back where it was and didn’t say anything, but I can’t help wondering about what I saw. I am actually closer to the friend whose husband was in the pictures, and I would be furious if anything was going on behind her back. Should I stop wondering and just ask her for an explanation?
Was Bored, Now Curious
No, you shouldn’t ask for an explanation for the simple reason that you never should have seen what you want an explanation for in the first place. I know phones are frequently passed around among friends, but that doesn’t make them less subject to basic rules of privacy. What you did was no different than if you had rifled through her purse because you were bored. You saw something you possibly shouldn’t have because you did something you definitely shouldn’t have. The photos on her phone were private, you violated that privacy, and now you’re simply going to have to live with your unanswered questions.
I have a daughter who will soon be meeting my boyfriend and I am dreading it! My daughter is 30 and lives on the West Coast. I got divorced from her father more than ten years ago and she has tried to make me feel guilty about it ever since. We have had a rocky relationship for as long as I can remember. I love her but I stopped expecting our relationship to change a long time ago. I don’t see her often because she lives so far away, and when we do get together, I try to make our time together as pleasant as possible.
I have been together with my boyfriend a little under a year. We enjoy each other’s company very much, have a lot of the same interests and views, and have talked about getting married at some point.
The problem is my boyfriend and my daughter couldn’t be any more different. He is an ex-military man and is a very no-nonsense, pull-yourself-together type. He’s emotional when you get to know him well, but he appears very unemotional if you don’t. My daughter, on the other hand, is an activist who opposes nearly everything he stands for. We’re having dinner together next month when she’s visiting and I’m already tense about it! I foresee an evening of veiled jabs if not downright hostility. They are both important to me, but they are both stubborn, opinionated people who think there’s something wrong with people who don’t see the world the way they do. Do you have any suggestions for how I might guide this evening in the right direction?
Stuck In The Middle
I think you should stop making the success of the evening your personal mission. You’re dining with two other adults who presumably know how to conduct themselves in social situations. You’re not responsible for their behavior.
Of course you want to have a nice evening together, and hopefully you will. Your daughter and your boyfriend may not see eye-to-eye on things, but there is absolutely no reason for them to be rude to each other, especially during their first meeting. Such behavior from either of them would be inexcusable.
So I would go into this giving everyone the benefit of the doubt and anticipating a nice night together. If it doesn’t turn out that way, handle it accordingly. But it’s not your job to ensure that the adults you’re dining with don’t act like petulant children. That responsibility is theirs and theirs alone.
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Photo credit: Flickr / spaceodissey