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Introduction as ‘friends’ not an insult

Wed., April 17, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 43-year-old woman who has been dating a 61-year-old man for about 18 months. At a gathering of his family, his 96-year-old mother introduced me to the attendees, all of whom I was meeting for the first time, as her son’s “friend.”

I objected (privately) to her son, who then mentioned it to his mother. She said that since we were not engaged, referring to me as his “friend” was appropriate.

Given that we are adults in a serious, committed relationship and had, in fact, discussed marriage, I felt that his mother was being gratuitously unkind, and that the term “friend” has pretty loose and often casual connotations.

Your thoughts? Boyfriend sided with his mother, by the way.

GENTLE READER: Then let it go. Actually, Miss Manners would have advised you to let it go, anyway.

Do you really want to force a 96-year-old lady, who might become your mother-in-law, to announce that your relationship is “serious,” whatever that means?

Indeed, the traditional stages of courtship are friendship, engagement and marriage. To that, modern society has added “partnership” to indicate that a household has been established. We do not yet have a term for having “in fact, discussed marriage.”

Nothing unkind was intended. Furthermore, you need not worry that the relatives remained in ignorance of your attachment. The minute you left, every one of them asked her.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have 10 bridesmaids but only five groomsmen! What do I do?

GENTLE READER: You calm down, that’s what you do.

Wedding attendants are not a parade of little temporary couples. They are there for you, not for one another, at least until the party has been going for a while. Get them down the aisle as threesomes, a bridesmaid on either side of a groomsman. Miss Manners promises that they will not be charged with bigamy.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners atdearmissmanners


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