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Miss Manners: Rules of inviting couples

Dear Miss Manners:

I came across this statement on a forum and was wondering what you thought about it: “A host cannot invite a person to a social function without inviting his or her socially recognized partner. It’s not permitted by etiquette to only invite half of a couple.”

Isn’t part of entertaining finding a good mix of people to invite? It seems to me that sometimes that might not include inviting significant others.

Yes, a host should select interesting guests, and yes, a host cannot invite half of couples to most social events.

How are you going to manage doing both?

Miss Manners has a solution for you, but it does not involve making clear to your friends that you can pick interesting people for an evening better than they can for a lifetime.

It is, rather, to make occasions that would be of obvious interest to one but not the other. Luncheon on weekdays is the classic time that partners may be invited separately unless they work together. Or for an activity, such as a fishing expedition, that one practices and the other doesn’t. Or a single-gender gathering, although you have to be careful, because while all-female parties are not generally considered offensive, all-male ones often are. Besides, it doesn’t work with single-gender couples.

Dear Miss Manners:

I am a middle-age woman; never married; no children. After so many years of dating men who disappoint me, I have decided that I will not date ever again. I have no interest in finding “the right man,” etc.

How do I handle this touchy subject when brought up in a group setting without the conversation turning to “why not” and “you just haven’t met the right one,” etc. Also, when people push me, I end up telling how I really feel about men being selfish pigs and then it offends my friends.

For the record, I have plenty of male friends and co-workers and we get along great. This is not something I carry on my shoulders or announce to the world.

Actually, you are announcing it to your world. The way to avoid discussions that lead nowhere is to refuse to be pushed into having them.

That a group of friends would gang up to ask why you are not dating strikes Miss Manners as — well, unfriendly, at best. She doesn’t want to hear them explain that it is a kindness, because they know better than you what would make you happy.

That said, you don’t really mean that part about the pigs, or you wouldn’t have male friends. You need only say: “Please stop worrying about me. I have lots of friends, and I’m perfectly happy.”

Dear Miss Manners:

Is it rude to ask my guests at my wedding to wear a choice of five colors, whichever and however they want? I have an idea that would look really nice but I don’t want to be rude.

Then trust them to dress themselves. Miss Manners begs you not to think of your wedding guests as part of your decorating scheme.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail questions to Miss Manners at MissManners@unitedmedia.com; enter them at www.missmanners.com or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

2011, King Features Syndicate

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