Q. A problem is causing me a great deal of difficulty and creating hard feelings between the gentleman I am going with and me:

Whenever we meet someone he has not seen in a long time, he introduces me as, "This is my friend." This happened again last evening, with the entire evening ruined, although we'd gone over how I should be introduced just before leaving the automobile.

I am not his friend--we are sweethearts, etc., covering a vast number of reasons why I bristle at this insult.

This is how I have requested him to introduce me, simply and to the point--"This is so-and-so." How much shorter and easier could an introduction be?

Then, to add fuel to the fire, upon being asked in my presence, "How are you doing?" he replies with a sad, dejected look, "Oh, I'm getting by." His wife passed away before he met me, and he shows no sign ever of pain or loss, with the exception of the first three or four months we were together, and we've been together well over a year now. So it is an insult to me that he should seek sympathy from others over a grief he has long been over. It does not speak well for me, nor does it seem to be something he wants to correct when I spoke to him about it this past evening for the first time.

I have threatened that I shall not stand by the next time he introduces me in that manner and accept that introduction in silence. Please advise me if you can, and I shall accept a wise, proper answer.

A. What a comfort you must be to this gentleman. All he has to do is utter a few platitudes at the very opening of an encounter--nothing more than the introduction and ritual inquiry on health--and you are bristling, insulted, fired with fuel and issuing threats. It must be an exciting relationship.

Technically, you are correct: One never introduces "my friend," because it implies that the other person in the introduction is not a friend; and names alone are all that is called for.

Variations on "How do you do?" such as "How are you?" "How are you doing?" "How's business?" and so on are not to be taken literally. As for answers, "Fine, thank you" is perhaps more positive than "I'm getting by," but neither of them is supposed to mean anything much.

Subjecting such phrases to emotional analysis is a silly occupation. No one bores Miss Manners more than the sort of person who gets all worked up about writing "Yours truly" on the grounds that he does not consider himself truly belonging to the person he is addressing.

Let us consider, then, what are the wise and proper answers to your predicament.

It would be proper for your friend to introduce you by name only, and to reply that he is fine; however, it is dreadfully improper for you to correct him.

The wise thing to do would be to stop fussing over nuances that are probably apparent only to you, and to think, instead, how you might help your friend achieve a more cheerful state.