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Miss Manners: I got into an argument with my fiance’s friend’s wife

Dear Miss Manners: When I started dating my fiance four years ago, I became friends with the wife of one of his best friends. The relationship had been fine until a friends’ weekend away.

One evening, I tried to slow our group down to wait for my fiance, who was walking about five minutes behind us all, before we sat down to dinner. We were on time for our reservations, not late.

The rest of the trip went fine, but two days after, I received a phone call from the wife, who was angry that I “made a scene.” I attempted to apologize, but that just brought on a 45-minute gutting of prior grievances about me, with phrases such as “Read the room — no one wants to talk to you” and “Who does things like that?”

I was not allowed to talk, and frankly, I was in shock.

Several weeks later, I called to try to salvage the relationship, even though I still felt like I'd been beaten up verbally. I was met immediately by defensiveness and a rehash of all the things that she thinks I do wrong, past and present. I told her I wanted space and time to think, and to try to repair the relationship.

In the meantime, we hear that she and her husband have reached out to my fiance's two other best friends and told them there was a fight (inappropriate, in my mind, as I did not involve others). Another month or so goes by, and she texts us both to say this was her last attempt at reaching out — that I had put forth no effort at reengaging with her (liking things on social media, wishing her a happy anniversary, etc.) and that she wanted to know “where I was at.”

My fiance says I didn't try hard enough to heal things/reach out, but also heard through her husband that it is a pattern of hers to “burn friendships to the ground” if things don't go her way.

Am I correct in thinking there’s not much I can do here? Should I just let this pass and move on?

It is not quite time to move on, which does not mean that you have to accept the unacceptable. Explain to your fiance that you did try to heal the breach, and that now it is up to the wife. He would not, you will add, want you to expose yourself to further bullying.

Miss Manners recommends this approach because it will cause both your fiance and, presumably, his circle of friends, to rethink their assumption that appeasing this woman was the right thing to do.

Dear Miss Manners: I had a meal with my brother, who kindly picked up the bill. When I offered to pay the tip, he implied that the offer was not appropriate, and that he would pay the tip. I ended up feeling somewhat humiliated, as if I didn’t know the appropriate etiquette.

Your brother was wrong to correct your manners and also wrong about the etiquette — which may ease your embarrassment, but also precludes your correcting him. Pay the bill next time, and suggest that, in future, you should just split it.

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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