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Miss Manners: ‘Plus-one’ not ideal, but accept it anyway

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a woman in my late 20s, who has been in a relationship with another woman for going on five years now. My family is not especially supportive, but there are times that I do receive formal invitations to events from extended family (think weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc.) that include my name and a plus-one.

My mother, who is vehemently unsupportive of my relationship, keeps trying to tell me that accepting a plus-one on an invitation is rude. She tells me that the people hosting the event are only giving me a plus-one to appear polite, and that if I bring someone else, it will cost the hosts money, so I shouldn’t accept it.

I’d like to think that my family members are showing passive support by offering me a plus-one, even if they are not listing my partner’s name on the invitation. In my opinion, an offering of a plus-one should always be seen as genuine!

My mother also insists that as maid of honor in my sister’s wedding, I was not supposed to bring a plus-one to the rehearsal dinner, despite other bridesmaids’ plus-ones being included. She is very concerned with politeness and appearances, so normally I do default to her, but given this dilemma, I am driven to ask you, Miss Manners, for your expertise and advice.

GENTLE READER: A misguided attempt to make their single guests feel more “comfortable,” plus-one communicates instead that the host does not want – or cannot be bothered – to find out the names of any serious partners.

Inviting anyone to a formal event should be done using that person’s name.

In your case, Miss Manners agrees that it was probably a passive – if still rude – attempt on your sister’s part to invite your partner without directly acknowledging her.

Your mother’s use of made-up etiquette rules is a passive way of rejecting that attempt. If your sister specifically asked you to invite someone, you may do so – and passively ignore your mother’s advice to do otherwise.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When invited to a party or a social event at our good friends’ home, they always ask, “What will you be bringing?” Is it rude for them to ask or presume we are bringing anything? At one party, they put out a sign-up list and began to hound guests who didn’t respond to the sign-up.

They claim they need to know, due to allergies. Wouldn’t it be better if they just reminded guests not to bring certain food items to avoid the danger? This presumptuous behavior has alienated some of our group. They are quite put off by it.

GENTLE READER: This is not polite behavior. Nor a sincere invitation. It is bad enough that guests have begun ubiquitously asking what they should bring to a party. The hosts should certainly not be soliciting it, nor badgering their donors.

If hosts are worried about their own allergies, then they should provide the food. Miss Manners is constantly baffled at how people do not find this task implicit in the job title.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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