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Miss Manners: How can I ask people to stop calling me by a triggering nickname?

Reader does not want to be called by a nickname that an ex-spouse’s new partner uses

Dear Miss Manners: I have a three-syllable first name, and it is what I go by. Some people take it upon themselves to shorten my name to the first syllable, which I do not care for.

It became even more of an issue for me when my ex-spouse left me for another woman with my same name, who goes by the first syllable only. Looking back, I realized my then-spouse had started to refer to me with that version before leaving. So now it’s pretty triggering when people call me by that name.

I have made this very clear with people who are close to me, yet some still persist in calling me the shortened version. It makes my skin crawl, and it feels very insensitive when I have explicitly requested they not use this name and explained why it’s bothersome.

Do you have a suggestion for how to handle this and still remain in the realm of the mannerly? Because I don’t want to say what is really coming up inside when they do it.

“Oh, no, it’s actually Gwendolyn, not Gwen. You must be mistaking me for my ex’s new partner. Unfortunately, so did he.”

Dear Miss Manners: My friend’s brother died suddenly and unexpectedly; he was only 37. This friend is an old co-worker who is very giving, and we have stayed friends even after I moved away. I spoke to her on the phone briefly on the day after his passing, and we cried together.

I said I would send flowers. I never did. I did not even try to contact her until a month later, with a text. I admitted I was a crummy friend and she texted back, “TBH, yes,” but said she would call me after work that day. I never heard from her.

I would like to make amends and try to salvage this relationship. What do you recommend I do? I have her parents’ address and can send food or flowers or whatever.

That would be a good start. This time, however, Miss Manners suggests you follow through.

Openly stating that you are a terrible friend does not exempt you from taking the steps to stop being terrible. And saying you are going to send flowers does not replace actually doing it.

A heartfelt apology to your friend — and a resolution to be better, without any excuses or labels attached to it — would be a step toward making amends, especially if she hears from her parents that flowers were actually sent.

Dear Miss Manners: When indulging in desserts such as millionaire’s shortbread or lemon bars, with a very short crust, it is difficult to cut through the base with the side of a fork.

Is it acceptable to use the points of the tines to push through the crust if I promise not to use a stabbing motion, or must I soldier on with the side of the fork?

As long as the poke is indeed subtle and the fork quickly turned to its side afterward, Miss Manners will allow it. Just be mindful of any wayward and suddenly provoked crust being unduly catapulted across the table.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin

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