Dear Miss Manners: I just received a wedding invitation with no instructions on how to RSVP — no reply card, no email address, no phone number.

I do not plan on attending. Do I owe them any reply? If so, should I send it to the return address? Post something to their social media page (the way we usually communicate)? Call them?

It is baffling, isn’t it? That with 98,576 methods of communication available to us today, we cannot seem to figure out how to find someone if not specifically informed of the method.

This wedding invitation is a quaint throwback to a time where even with only one form of communication — a home address — it was assumed that people could figure out that hosts might like to know how many guests to expect. The proper thing, Miss Manners assures you, would be to use said address and write a letter expressing your regrets. Not, she is sorry to tell you, to shoot them a GIF or a tweet.

Dear Miss Manners: I am of the increasingly rare school of thought that sees my pets as companions, not children.

I love them. I care for them. I train them. In exchange, I get the pleasure of their company. I do not expect them to outlive me, as I do my children. I do not expect them to learn to think independently, as I do my children. And I do not expect them to go to college or become self-supporting, as I do my children.

When others refer to their "fur babies" or call themselves "Mom" or "Dad" in relationship to a dog or cat, I cringe a little inside but say nothing. But when others call me "Mom" regarding my pet, I'd like to have something to say, without being rude, that makes it clear I don't see the relationship that way.

I am not sure what term to offer instead. I think if I referred to myself as Fido or Fluffy's "owner," I would be seen as completely barbaric. Any thoughts?

“Guardian.” This gives you a slightly more personal edge, while also being sufficiently removed from a biological declaration. That, or Miss Manners recommends a look of confusion followed by, “Oh! Peeps is my dog, not my child. Brenda is currently away at college.”

Dear Miss Manners: I have become reacquainted with the woman my father was dating when he died. They were together for quite some time, though they never married. I am unsure how to introduce her to others.

She has the same first name as my sister-in-law and introducing her with the backstory is cumbersome, but without it, feels incomplete. Since they never married, she's not my stepmom, and calling her a longtime family friend doesn't feel sufficient.

I'm delighted she's back in my life and want the way I introduce her to indicate that. She was my father's girlfriend 30 years ago. What is she to me now?

Your father’s girlfriend from 30 years ago. “This is my father’s dear friend, Alicia. She was like a mother to me back when he was still alive.” Miss Manners is certain that the term “dear friend” will convey the relationship’s proper significance — without making the details of that friendship unnecessarily graphic.

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.

2020, by Judith Martin