My best friend is dating someone I don't like--what do I do?Plus, how do we deal with a couple who brings their precocious child to our adults only book club?
Each week, Miss Manners answers questions exclusivelyfrom the MSN audience on all of your etiquette dilemmas.(Have an issue you want help with? Send in a question today.) Read on for this week's hot topics:
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
In an odd turn of events, my best friend began dating someone I briefly dated before her. We both met this fellow through an online dating service. I don't like or trust the person my friend is dating, but I don't want to strain or damage our relationship by telling her I think she is making a mistake.
I have told her once already about my experience/reservations. Should I leave it at that? The whole scenario is disturbing to me and I don't want to socialize with the person my friend is dating. I can only avoid so many social situations before it takes a toll on our friendship.
"Think of the toll it will take on your friendship if you find out that the two of them have been discussing how to deal with your on-going interest in him and jealousy of her.
Miss Manners is not saying that they have done that yet, but they will if you keep issuing warnings. That is the universal explanation that current couples believe about complaining exes.
With today's kaleidoscope courtships, behaving civilly to exes is a necessary skill. Many people have to do this after long marriages, for the sake of their children. Surely you can manage at an occasional social event with someone you only dated briefly."
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
My husband and I belong to a small book club that is comprised of us and about five of our friends. A couple we are very good friends with are included, and they have a rather precocious six-year-old daughter who they have recently begun to bring with them.
At first they said that they could not find a sitter but as the months have progressed, that excuse has faded and she simply comes along. She is very disruptive and is constantly interrupting the conversation which her parents do nothing to correct.
We're all at a loss of how to handle this without hurting her parents' feelings, as they are obviously oblivious to the fact that none of us enjoys their daughter's company like they do. She is making us want to disband the gathering altogether. What would Miss Manners say?
"That it is time to start reading salacious books. Oh, classic ones, of course. Then you can say, 'We're going to be doing Dangerous Liaisons next. If you bring Madison to the meeting, perhaps you ought to explain to her first, in your own way, what it's all about.'"
Judith Martin's latest book is No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice. She is also the author of Miss Manners' Guide toExcruciatingly Correct Behavior (Freshly Updated). She and her husband, a scientist and playwright, live in Washington, D.C. They have two perfect children, of course.
I'm very sorry, but I disagree with MM regarding LW2. The other adults shouldn't have to start reading salacious books just to fend off a 6 year old child, and her parents probably won't get a clue, anyway, and are likely to keep bringing her. Parents who are that thick need a bit of a two-by-four, so to speak.
What's wrong with simply saying to the parents, "You know we just adore little Madison, but all of us treasure our "adults only" time, and we get so little of it during the week. In the past, we so enjoyed our lively and uninterrupted book discussions. Perhaps maybe next time, you could arrange for a sitter in advance? Here's the name of a great nanny we've used in the past, she's quite reliable..."
I just don't think that having manners requires you to kowtow to people who are behaving without any thought as to how they are affecting others. Our society is becoming way too narcissistic, and I, for one, wish people would start standing up against the "Me, me", and "It's all about my Little Darling" trends - whether it be in restaurants, airplanes, or a book club.
L2: This falls under the category of "How do I tell my friend/mother/co-worker/etc that behavior X bothers me?" There is no "how", you just act like a grown-up and do it, politely.
I'd just start off planning the next book club meeting by addressing the couple directly saying I know you've been having a hard time finding a sitter. Why don't you check and see when one is available and let us know what date will work for you?
more weekly columns
Miss Manners shows us how to handle people who neglect to pick up after their dogs.
Miss Manners touches on what to do when your family decided not to pay your lifestyle choices the respect they deserve
One Gentle Reader wonders how to establish birthday guidelines in his home with four children. Miss Manners has the answer!
Miss Manners guides us on the appropriate time to open graduation gifts: At the graduation party or after?
Miss Manners helps us see who is a true friend and who is just pretending.
Miss Manners: Kids and party-crashing.
Miss Manners offers advice on the proper way to exchange graduation presents among friends.
Miss Manners tells us how to handle phone calls at inappropriate times.