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Face It, You’re Past ‘Boy’ Friend Age

Judith Martin United Features S

Dear Miss Manners: I am 40 years old and my girlfriend of more than a year, who is 43, staunchly refuses to introduce me as her boyfriend. She uses the excuse of it sounding juvenile. I feel it is a matter of respect - that I am someone important in her life.

At times when introducing me, she has used the “F” word - “friend.” I feel that is derogatory, as when a female calls a male just a friend, it means nothing. I’ve asked her to think of a term other than boyfriend that she would be comfortable with, but she hasn’t.

Gentle Reader: Although Miss Manners agrees that calling someone “just a friend” is death to romance, she begs to disagree with you about the unadorned word “friend.”

That can mean anything, depending on how it is said. Perhaps you could teach the lady in question to assume a soft look and put a fond hand on your arm as she says, “This is my friend.”

Or she could learn to keep a straight face while calling you her beau or her suitor.

Miss Manners approves of grown-ups’ insisting upon being treated as grown-ups. Surely you have noticed that ladies in their 40s do not like to be referred to as girls (and some of them even object to being referred to as ladies, but that is Miss Manners’ privilege). So why should they describe their romances as involving boys and girls?

Dear Miss Manners: My significant other and I, who will announce our engagement soon, have had our share of problems, and there are friends and family on both sides who have made it clear that they think we are no good for each other. A few have been quite vocal about it.

Some of these are friends of longstanding, and I have no desire to hold grudges. But their remarks have been hurtful, and I am reluctant to graciously invite them to our wedding and, in doing so, invite a show of hypocrisy.

Gentle Reader: Miss Manners begs your pardon, but a show of hypocrisy is exactly what you want. She would go so far as to say that the danger you fear is rather that those who disapprove of your marriage may fail to muster a proper show of hypocrisy.

This is, Miss Manners must point out, a confusing situation for interested family and friends. One minute they were your confidantes whose opinions about your romance were tolerated, perhaps even solicited. Suddenly, the prospect they so freely weighed is about to become your husband. The same criticism has become insulting now that they are talking about your close relative.

People understandably have trouble making that sudden U-turn. So while they are getting used to the idea that whether you and this gentleman are good for each other is no longer an open question, hypocrisy is your only hope.

Miss Manners hopes that as they seem to be dear to you, you will encourage them to adjust to the change. By all means, invite them to the wedding, adding the warning, “I just know you will come to love him as I do - he is eager to become friends.”

Dear Miss Manners: My sister-in-law’s fiance does not want gifts, but money. He wants to put on the wedding invitations, “No gifts, money please.” My sister emphatically says you can’t do that! Is there a polite way to say it, or should she tell the money-hungry jerk to take a hike - she’s doing it her way.

Gentle Reader: No, there is no polite way to practice extortion. If the bride were Miss Manners’ relative, she would strongly advise her to tell this gentleman to take a hike that will not lead back to the altar.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Judith Martin United Features Syndicate

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