DEAR MISS MANNERS: ?My long-term boyfriend and I have recently hit a bit of a rough patch. ?Nothing very dramatic has occurred, but we're both very busy at the moment and ?living in separate cities, so I asked him for a bit of a "break."
?The idea behind it being that we wouldn't see each other for a month or two, ?but we would stay in contact and after some time apart, and potentially ?going on a few dates, we could decide whether or not we want to be together in the long run. ?
I was hoping you could help me in figuring out how to talk about our ?situation with friends, both close and casual. When people ask me how my boyfriend is, which they usually do as we've been together for four years and usually socialize as a couple, I'm not sure how to react.
If I tell them ?that we are on a little break they always seem to express rather over-the-top remorse, which makes me feel very uncomfortable. If I go on to tell them ?that I hope it will only be temporary, they often go on to be a little ?patronizing and offer a shoulder to cry on if it doesn't work out.
I don't mind this so much with close friends, as I'm willing to have a long chat ?about it with them about the whole situation, but I'm not really sure how to act with people I do not know that well.
I can't imagine in all seriousness that they are genuinely very upset that my relationship isn't going very well at ?the moment, or that I would call on them in my time need. ?Should I simply tell them that everything is fine?
GENTLE READER: Why can't you just give them a straight answer to a simple question?
According to your report, people are not asking how "everything" is, however much that is on your mind. They are asking how the gentleman is, which is a conventionally polite question, and the conventional answer is "He's fine."
However, it has occurred to Miss Manners that you may want it generally known that you are "on break," so that people might not be shocked when they see you out with someone else, or so that they might not miss the chance to introduce you to someone else.
If such is the case, you need only add, "I don't see him quite as much as I used to, but I'll tell him you asked about him."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My family and I have just been through the difficult and draining experience of caring for my father through his terminal illness and grieving his loss. While so many have brought comfort and care to us, this milestone has been made more difficult on occasion by allegedly well-meaning people and their almost unbelievably insensitive comments.
For example, to my unmarried sister, "I guess you'll have to find someone else to walk you down the aisle, dear" or to my mother after church, "I'll bet the hardest part is waking up in the morning alone."
What does one say to such people? Is there a polite way to let them know how inappropriate and painful their remarks are to us?
GENTLE READER: Yes: "I'm sure you meant to be kind."