DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am 22 and have been in a relationship for three years now. My best friend, who is the same age, is also in a relationship, going on over a year. Here is my problem: She seems to feel the need to relay to me every single aspect of their romance, whether it's sexual, emotional, or even "Oh, guess what John said/e-mailed to me today!"
I don't mean to be callous; it's natural for a young lady to be excited about a relationship, but that tell-all feeling usually passes after the relationship has entered the long-term phase. I know I personally still don't feel the need to report to her every detail in the relationship between my boyfriend and me. It's getting more and more difficult to muster up enthusiasm or even interest in the minutiae of their courtship.
I've joked with her that "30 years from now, when you two are married, I might not listen anymore!" but she just laughed and carried on. Should I keep listening, or is there a gentle way to say that maybe it's time she keeps all these details to herself? I'm happy for her, but I'm ready for a new topic of conversation.
GENTLE READER: As you understand, your friend is in the familiar shouting-it-from-the-housetops stage of romance, which, fortunately, does not last forever. The lady in question appears to have less discretion than most, but Miss Manners promises that even she will eventually stop.
In the meantime, best friends do have to endure some of this. From your remark that you don't "still" feel the need, Miss Manners gathers that at one time you must have cornered this lady, or other friends, with similar confidences.
You can make a few protests, such as, "You know I can't keep a secret," and "I'm never going to be able to look John in the eye," and "Stop, please, you're embarrassing me." Beyond that, Miss Manners recommends resigning yourself to using the time for a mental review of your grocery list.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am 9 years old. When I call a friend and they're not home and I leave a message on their answering machine, how long should I wait until I call a different friend? How many hours should I wait until I call a different friend without hurting the first friend's feelings? Then when my other friend returns my call and I already have a friend over, what should I do?
GENTLE READER: If you are old enough to issue invitations, Miss Manners believes you are old enough to learn a secret that many adults get into trouble for not knowing:
Invitations do not have to be open-ended to be gracious. Now is the time to learn to put time limits. Your message should be, "I'm hoping you can come over to my house. Call me by three if you can come today, but if you can't, please call me tomorrow and let's pick another day."