Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Miss Manners


Dear Miss Manners: In my close circle of friends and family, I am the individual with the highest income. I have no issue paying when a small group of us go out to dinner. My friends do not take advantage of my generosity.

But now I’ve had an awkward dining experience: The person I went to dinner with offered to pay, I accepted, and it became clear afterward that they had not expected me to accept.

How can I graciously accept someone else’s offer to pay, while still allowing those who feel a need to make the hollow gesture? My preference would be for them not to make the gesture at all if they were not actually comfortabl­e paying, but I can only control my actions.

I do not want to always insist on paying, but I also do not want my less financiall­y fortunate friends to pay for my meal if they do not want to. Thanking them for offering and then telling them it is unnecessar­y feels a little condescend­ing, but is that the proper way to handle this? I am honestly at a loss.

Gentle Reader: Offering to pay for the meal means something, and not because it involves money, but because it is a way of showing hospitalit­y. If your friend did not intend to do that, then he should have kept silent. Certainly he should not expect you to have inferred his insincere intent.

If you do not want to burden him with this expense, then offer to pay for it, to split the cost or to go to a less expensive establishm­ent. But don’t give him credit for something he was not prepared to do, or feel bad for taking him at his word.

Dear Miss Manners: My daughter’s father and I split when she was just over a year old and have had almost no contact over the last 30 years. He and his family (whom I have never met) will be here for her wedding. There are no planned activities other than the ceremony, mostly due to COVID. What can I do to make the wedding a bit less awkward?

Gentle Reader: Although you will not often hear her say this, Miss Manners hopes that on this day, you will defer to the bride. That means suspending your feelings about your ex and, if not being effusive with him — likely too much to ask — then striving for something more than merely civil.

— Distribute­d by Universal Uclick

You can send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanner­; to her email, dearmissma­; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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