DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it acceptable for a girl to decline an invitation to a dance, only to later accept another invitation to the same dance? This is for a high school dance or prom.

GENTLE READER: If you are the parent of a young gentleman to whom this has been done, Miss Manners can confirm that the young lady is indeed rude, and that however crushed your son is, he is better off. She would be capable of committing another rudeness, such as breaking the date later.

If you are the parent of a young lady who proposes to do this, it is still rude, but Miss Manners has more to say.

You should tell your daughter that as the idea is to avoid hurting the young gentleman’s feelings, in theory, she should be able to do this if he would never find out. Then ask her how she would decline without being unkind or untruthful. And remind her that there are no secrets in high school.

There is another lesson you might give, even though she will not believe it. That is that some law of nature makes the least popular boy in high school into the most desirable man later in life, yet, no matter how successful and glamorous he has become, makes him remember and continue to smart from having been slighted.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A couple whom we’ve been friends with for 25 years has recently split. We are still friends with both.

We are inviting the woman, but the man now has a new girlfriend and hasn’t really communicated with us since leaving the marriage. We don’t know if inviting him would be appropriate. The woman didn’t want the breakup, so we’ve been talking a lot with her since the split and feel we really need and want to invite her.

We don’t know if the divorced couple would be comfortable being in the same room. We definitely would not invite the guy’s girlfriend. What do you say?

GENTLE READER: That you needn’t worry, because he would not accept. He has stayed out of touch with you; he knows you have been paying close attention to his former wife’s side of the story; and he would not take well to being told that his new friend is not welcome.

If you really want to keep up both friendships, Miss Manners advises you to accept the fact that he is divorced and thus entitled to form a new relationship, and yet spare the former wife, who you know was unhappy about the divorce, from being confronted with that situation.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a nurse and my boyfriend was sick for three days. I helped take care of him, but by the third day I became increasingly irritated with him for telling me “thank you” every hour or so.

Why do I lose my patience? Isn’t saying “thank you” once sufficient, or am I being unreasonable?

GENTLE READER: You are being unwise.

Because you are a nurse, you may feel as if you are doing no more for him than you would for a stranger. But have you never had a cantankerous patient who ordered you around as if you were a servant — using a tone that no self-respecting servant would stand for?

Miss Manners advises you that there are more annoying attitudes than gratitude, and advises you to refrain from discouraging it.

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

2012, by Judith Martin

Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS