DEAR MISS MANNERS: A good friend of mine has been dating a man for 10 years. Their relationship has had its up and downs over the years. He considers himself a real man's man and has always been keen on marrying her.
After so many years, she finally agreed. He, however, insists that they live together for a year first, and if things are fine between them he will then buy a ring. He has, on two separate occasions, told her he would move in with her. He changed his mind both times without a plausible explanation.
My friend owns her place, owns her car, has great credit and is pretty much financially secure. He is the total opposite. He is still renting after 20 years of working, does not have a car or hold a license and has major credit problems.
She still loves him. After the past couple of setbacks with making arrangements for living together falling by the wayside, she now prefers marriage. She still wants to marry him.
However, at this point, she wants to get engaged first before living with him. He wants to live together before getting married because he said it would be more economical for him. What do you think?
GENTLE READER: That she will move in with him, but that you need not worry about getting them a wedding present. The gentleman may not be decisive, but he is apparently persuasive.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We live in a condo, and our guest room also serves as my office. I invited friends to stay with us for a time that would have originally been three nights.
After setting the dates, they asked to extend to five nights for the purpose of getting a cheaper plane ticket. (They're not poor!) I reluctantly agreed. That was my first mistake, but to say "no" would have seemed insensitive to their potential economic savings.
The day before they were scheduled to leave, when I was already climbing the wall from being displaced and also constant entertaining and sight-seeing, they asked to stay way into that last day, as they had a late flight. I made up a lie that we had to be somewhere late that morning to get them out of the house and gave them some alternatives where they could spend the day.
I think I got caught in my lie. In the future, how should I handle a situation where I commit to a stay (three nights is long enough in our situation) and then the guests want to extend and then extend again?
GENTLE READER: But why lie, when you have such a good excuse? Why didn't you reply to the first request, "I'm so sorry -- that's my office, and I need to get back to work?"
Miss Manners does not profess the sort of crude and callous morality that considers it a sin to say "I had a lovely time" if she didn't. But false excuses are foolhardy, as you have discovered. And even if you hadn't had a good excuse, none would have been necessary. All you need to have said was, "Oh, I'm so sorry. It was lovely having you here, but alas, three days was all I could schedule with you."