Dear Annie: I’m 52 and have dated “Bob” for six years. We both have grown children. Last week, he said one of his two daughters “didn’t think much of me.” I like and socialize with them at family dinners.
I asked which one said that, but he refuses to tell me. This hurts, to say the least. What do you think?
— Concerned in California
Dear Concerned in California: I think Bob is very insensitive. To make a blanket statement about someone (even if it is his daughter) not liking you is mean and juvenile. By refusing to say which daughter it is, he is creating a situation in which you will distrust both of them. There is something nasty about this.
Now, if you did something that upset one of his daughters, that could be a different story. You could talk about it and work through things. Of course, this hurtful statement of unknown origin is going to make you feel sad and defensive during these family dinners.
Rather than being resigned to this situation, press Bob on why he would say something like that. Six years is a long time, and if you are going to continue your relationship, you must be with a partner who is more considerate of your feelings and who is willing to work things out by communicating directly.
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Dear Annie: I was always under the impression that when invited to stay somewhere, guests did not need to bring anything. They should just enjoy being a guest. There was a recent letter in which a man asks for his guests to bring a gift. I think that is tacky.
Sure, he has worked hard to get his property and now wants to invite “guests” over. He never said “friends,” but guests shouldn’t have to pay their duties to him. He may as well be running a hotel; then the guests would be paying for beach towels and food.
I hope he enjoys his new lake house quietly and alone. I certainly wouldn’t go there after reading his letter.
— Guests or Friends
Dear Guests or Friends: You make an interesting point, but I think you’re being a little rigid. Giving a gift to a host or bringing food to share with a group is a kind gesture. It makes both the host and the guest feel good.
But of course, you are correct that being obligated to give a gift in order to be invited is something else entirely. I wouldn’t blame you for staying away.
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Dear Annie: The letter from the grandpa who never leaves the house without his handkerchief made me smile. My 28-year-old daughter with Down syndrome suffers from seasonal allergies, so she never knows when she might let go with a big sneeze.
She has carried a thin-sized handkerchief, handed down from her dad, since she started going to school. She likes the men’s size because they are thinner and bigger than the ladies hankies I bought her.
So, you are right, they are for everyone, not just men.
— Ellen’s Mom
Dear Ellen’s Mom: Thank you for your letter. Your daughter sounds wonderful, and so do you.
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— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her debut book, Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie, features favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette. Email your Dear Annie questions to email@example.com. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.