Miss Manners: The ‘other woman’ wants to become No. 1

August 14

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am the other woman in the life of a man I am seeing, and I want to be the first woman.

He seems to like us equally and to be indifferent as to which woman occupies which position. He and I went out on our first date at a time when he and she weren’t getting along and he thought they were going to break up. So he went out with me, and here we are.

How do I get her out of the way?

GENTLE READER: Other than hiring a hit man? Miss Manners is many things, but she assures you she is not that.

Why you would want to be with a man who has shown such lack of discrimination in his romantic attachments is beyond her. Apparently it has not occurred to you that if you were able to eliminate your rival, you would create a job opening.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every couple of weeks, one of a group of girls at my school asks me, “Why do you hate me?”

Normally, I would simply ignore this and get on with my life, but they have asked me multiple times. I sit with them (chance, not choice) in a table of four in a math class, and they are all close friends.

I do my best to be polite to them. I say hello, goodbye, and ask them how their day is. I also do my best to answer any questions they ask me. I do very well in the class, but I sometimes do not know how to explain a concept.

I also refuse to help them cheat on tests. After one occasion, they told me that the test was “a group effort.” I managed to move to another seat, but the incident still bothers me.

Is there any point at which I can stop trying to assist and be polite? I tried for four or five months, and they never stopped being rude to me, and often asked me why I hated them. What would be the best way to behave in this type of situation?

GENTLE READER: To say, “I don’t hate you, but I can’t help you the way you want. If that’s a condition of friendship, I’m sorry.”

Miss Manners suggests that you then continue to take tests in the seat farthest away from them — and closest to the teacher.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I are blessed with wonderful friends and family who celebrated our wedding with us. We’ve been finishing up thank-you cards for those who sent presents.

I’d also like to thank those who just attended, even if they did not give any physical gifts. Would it be proper to send a heartfelt thank-you card for their presence and support?

We didn’t ask for, nor expect, presents, and felt that our guests’ attendance was present enough.

GENTLE READER: It pains Miss Manners to discourage heartfelt letters of thanks, which have become as rare as people who do not ask for presents. It is not surprising to hear that you have wonderful friends.

But this is not a good idea. It reverses the usual direction of thanks between guests and hosts, and may be taken — as less kindly brides have used it — as a reminder to come across with the goods.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

2014, by Judith Martin

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