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Am I A Jerk For Taking Baths In My Neighbor's Apartment Without His Knowledge, And Other Advice Column Questions
GOOD QUESTION

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There are too many excellent advice columns to keep up with, so we're committed to bringing you links to the best advice column questions and answers every week. Here's a roundup of the most interesting, thought-provoking and surprising questions that our favorite columnists (and subreddits) addressed in recent days.

Am I A Jerk For Taking Baths In My Neighbor's Apartment Without His Knowledge?

I live in an apartment block and live across from my neighbor — let's call him Jerry. Jerry is a 40-year-old man who lives alone and works 9-5, Monday to Friday. He gave me a key a few years back when he went on holidays. I still have the key.

Six months ago, my shower broke before a big work presentation. I sent him a text asking if I could use his bath, but he never got back to me. I assumed it was okay (it turned out he'd changed his number). Anyway, I had the bath and loved it. I don't have a bath in my flat, and it was some experience. I brought my own shower gel, shampoo and rubber duck so I didn't use anything he had paid for.

Since then, I've just been using his bath when he's not around. It is the best part of the week, midday on Tuesday and Friday when I head in.

Then everything went wrong. Jerry died. Not knowing this, I went in for my Tuesday bath and was sitting there relaxing when his brother came in and was shocked to see me sitting naked on his toilet, post-shower. It was the worst moment he could have arrived. He was so mad. I was humiliated beyond belief...

I am heartbroken at the loss of my neighbor and the lovely memories he gave me. Am I actually the asshole, cause I don't think so?

[Reddit via Twitter]

The commenters on the r/AmItheAsshole subreddit overwhelmingly agree that the letter writer is in the wrong. "You can't actually think that sneaking into someone's home and taking a bath without their knowledge or consent is okay," one of them writes. "And not once, but twice a week for six months." Read the rest of their answers.

How Can I Convince My Wife To Return To Adventure Racing With Me After A Bull Terrorized Her During A Race?

Five years ago, when my wife and I were 35 years old, she agreed to be on a team with me and compete in some "adventure races." It was great fun. We had team T-shirts, trained together and were excited about our results. It brought us closer and created a real sense of camaraderie, adventure and mutual support into our marriage.

During one race a bull broke into the race grounds and chased us. Shortly thereafter, my wife quit the team and, sadly, many of the ancillary benefits declined as well. She will no longer be on a team with me. What should I do?

[UExpress]

Abigail Van Buren suggests that the letter writer let this go. "Because your wife has chosen to retire from adventure racing, you should recruit another partner or find some other activity you both could enjoy together," she writes. Read the rest of their answer.

Do I Have To Tell My Employee To Stop Retaliating Against A Coworker Who Calls Him By The Wrong Name Because He's Trans?

I have managed "John," a transgender man, for about two years... "Lizzy" recently transferred to a department that works closely with ours. She previously did not know that John was trans, but now that she's interacting with him much more often, she's found out. At first, she didn't seem to have an issue with it, but then she discovered some articles he'd published while still going by "Sally," and now she insists on calling him Sally. She claims that she has no problem with trans people, but that she feels it's important to call John by the name he was given at birth "out of respect for his mother" ...

John and I have both asked her to stop, but she refuses... I've tried casually correcting her in the moment, as if I thought she were making a mistake, and John has outright refused to answer to the name Sally, but she keeps saying that it's disrespectful to his mother to use a name she didn't choose for him. John complained to HR, but they said that because she is not explicitly harassing him for being trans, they can't do anything...

John has now started exclusively calling Lizzy "Elizabeth;" there is another Elizabeth in the office, and if there's any confusion over which Elizabeth he's talking about, John uses Lizzy's maiden name, rather than her married name. Lizzy HATES this and has complained to him, me and half the office, but he says that it's out of respect for her mother. Honestly, I think this is hilarious (and kind of want to start doing it too), but I feel that as a manager, I shouldn't encourage John to deliberately antagonize Lizzy, even though she started it (and definitely shouldn't join in). However, it does seem extremely unfair to tell John that not only does he have to put up with Lizzy using his deadname, but that he also has to use her preferred name. Do I have to tell John to knock it off?

[Ask A Manager]

Alison Green encourages the letter writer to continue bringing this issue up with HR and Lizzy's manager, since what Lizzy is doing is clearly transphobic harassment. In the meantime, "It would be tremendously unfair for you to tell John he has to stop, while Lizzy gets to continue harassing him," she writes. "Let Lizzy experience some very deserved consequences of her actions." Read the rest of her answer.

Should I Ask To Be Included In Couples Counseling With My Boyfriend And His Wife?

I'm a thirtysomething straightish woman in a relationship with a thirtysomething straight man. Both of us are in long-standing stable open marriages. We've been together for a year and a half, including six months of no in-person contact because of COVID, and we've built an amazing sexual and emotional relationship that I value deeply. We met up recently, and I learned that in the meantime, he and his wife started couples counseling, largely because his wife has been jealous of me and my continued relationship with him ("What does she have that I don't?"). I have a don't ask-don't tell policy with my husband. None of us are dating others at this time to minimize risk, but he and I did pre-COVID, as did his wife, but she does not have a similar, stable, secondary relationship. He and I have talked about this and how his wife has been more hesitant about the open marriage since I came along, and he knows that he needs to advocate for me and my needs since I am not involved in their couples counseling sessions. Despite (or because of) this, it can feel like I'm being talked about behind my back and that the grown-ups are making decisions without me. My biggest fear is that she convinces him to close the relationship; this almost happened a year ago when she suddenly decided she wanted to have a baby (they decided it wasn't the right time and put that on pause). What can I do? Should I ask to be included in the sessions? I really don't want to lose what we have. I have found a lot of information for the primary couple in navigating open relationships, but there seems to be a lot less out there about secondaries advocating for themselves.

[Slate]

Stoya urges the letter writer not to ask to be included in the counseling sessions. "[R]elationships end for all sorts of reasons all the time," she writes. "That's part of the risk you take with any relationship, especially with complicated structures like this one: the risk of loss and hurt." Read the rest of her answer.

Should My Wife And I Invite Our Son's Girlfriend's Family To Visit Us, Even Though Their Country Club Is Fancier Than Our Country Club?

Our son, a senior in college, claims that he has found the love of his life. "Ashley" is also a senior. They have been going out for over a year, and it is clear that he wants to marry her.

It seems like since he has made this emotional commitment, perhaps it would be time to meet her parents and family.

I wanted to invite them out to our suburb to enjoy a round of golf, the pool and a fancy dinner at our country club, but my wife didn't think that was a good idea. She claimed it was too soon to "meet the parents."

They live in a very upscale area, and I'm supposing that my wife has looked up what they paid for their house, how much fancier their country club is than ours and is probably afraid that our standard of living won't live up to their standards and will sour their outlook on our son.

This is hurtful.

Is there an appropriate time for our families to get to know each other in this situation, especially given this perceived difference in financial net worth?

[Tribune Content Agency]

Amy Dickinson counsels the letter writer to scale back his ambitions for his first time meeting Ashley's parents and to put the ball in his son's court. "You and your wife need to realign your values, and simply tell your son, 'We would like to spend more time with Ashley, and also meet her folks when you two are ready,'" she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

Should I Date Someone Who Sees The Same Therapist As Me?

I recently reconnected with a person from my past on whom I am now developing a major crush. The feeling is mutual, which is great. But the other day, we discovered that we share a much-loved therapist. I've always wanted to date an evolved person who goes to a therapist — just not mine! I also get the sense that neither of us wants to find a new therapist. Help!

[The New York Times]

Philip Galanes advises the letter writer not to get ahead of themself and instead to keep getting to know their crush. "If this spark of interest develops into a romance — or if you, your friend or the therapist feel uncomfortable — your therapist can help one or both of you find new therapists," he writes. Read the rest of his answer.

Questions have been edited for length and clarity.

LV Anderson is the news editor at Grist and an advice column aficionado.

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