DEAR MISS MANNERS: If your boyfriend has asked me to marry him several years ago, and he has yet to make a move and set a date — what do you think would be a polite way to tell him that I love him, but I need this relationship to go forward? I do not want to end it. I just want to remarry and have children.

GENTLE READER: There seems to be some confusion here. Absent-minded as she may be, Miss Manners is pretty sure that she would remember if she had a beau who had asked you to marry him. She probably would have thought about sending you a silver tea service.

Pronoun trouble aside, she does not know of a formula for speeding marriage, now that fathers with shotguns are scarce. But she believes that stating one’s needs is less apt to inspire enthusiasm than the declaration that one is so passionately in love as to be impatient to be united forever.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a very well mannered young lady in south Fla. & was wondering how I can tell successful men that keeping their hands to theirself & not kissing etc. is not acceptable! I am mid-western raised with very high morals. I’m wondering (in a nice way) to tell them they aren’t being appropriate! I would love to find a book about manners & just give it to them!

GENTLE READER: Folks, can we do some proofreading here?

Miss Manners chooses to believe that you are a young lady of very high morals deploring those who do not keep their hands to themselves and go in for unauthorized kissing, not that you meant to say that you are of low morals and deplore those who refrain.

In the former case, the words you need are, “How dare you!” In the latter case, Miss Manners cannot advise you.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boyfriend’s mother makes it a point to intrude into our lives, and I am not sure how we can manage this. My boyfriend is a very filial son and will plan his dates with me to accommodate his mother’s schedule.

When I call my boyfriend in the evenings to have a chat, she will pick up the handset and tell me that it is late and that my boyfriend needs to sleep -- this while the two of us are conducting a conversation.

My boyfriend will never stand up to his mother’s controlling instincts. Although I love him, I am beginning to have doubts about the relationship, as I cannot imagine a life with a mother-in-law dictating everything to my husband and him following her instructions to the letter. I’ve asked him why is he so submissive, and his reply was, “She is my mother.”

Is there a polite and effective way to let my boyfriend’s mother know that her actions are inappropriate, or should I call it quits with him?

GENTLE READER: If you start criticizing the gentleman’s mother, especially on behavior to which he has no objection, you won’t need to call it quits with him. Miss Manners is sure that they will be able to manage that between them.

However, she is puzzled at your attitude. If you believe that it is wrong to attempt to dictate behavior to an adult, why do you propose doing it yourself?

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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