Miss Man­ners

The Buffalo News - - LIFE COLUMNS -

oth­ers rely on a mis­un­der­stand­ing: Friend­ship is not an obli­ga­tion but a plea­sure, based on mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and good feel­ings, of­ten ex­pressed in re­cip­ro­cal acts of kind­ness.

Miss Man­ners says this not to as­sure you that you have no obli­ga­tion to oth­ers, but rather to clar­ify what that obli­ga­tion is – and is not. As­sist­ing an el­derly neigh­bor, as one ex­am­ple, is a good deed. Spend­ing time with some­one who bores you, and to whom you owe noth­ing, is nei­ther a good deed, a re­quire­ment of good man­ners – nor a sen­si­ble use of time. If you do not of­fer fu­ture in­vi­ta­tions – and an­swer those ex­tended to you within a mea­sured time – the prob­lem will re­solve it­self. It is known as drift­ing apart.

Dear Miss Man­ners: I’ve been in­vited to a party. The hours are from 6 p.m. un­til 10 p.m. Am I re­quired to be there the en­tire time? I had hoped to stay un­til the end so I can help my host with clean­ing up af­ter­ward.

Gen­tle Reader: How long you are re­quired to re­main de­pends on the na­ture of the party. Leav­ing in the mid­dle of a sit-down meal is rude, while hold­ing out past the end of a cock­tail party may be equally rude.

Miss Man­ners pre­sumes that your de­sire to clean up is al­tru­is­tic – you want to be help­ful, rather than en­joy­ing the act it­self. But she as­sures you that if you re­cip­ro­cate the in­vi­ta­tion, you can clean up your own party rather than hang­ing around the kitchen at your friend’s.

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