DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the etiquette of breaking up?
My ex said many nasty things to me on the phone and briefed me by e-mail. We were together for about 14 months, together almost all the time. I am still blown away with the deceit and how he handled it. He never did give me the respect to face me.
I recently requested by phone if he could write me a letter explaining why he did certain behaviors in the end and send a handkerchief that belongs to my grandmother.
He stinking e-mailed me and danced around everything as if it was my fault, and I still don't have the handkerchief. What to think of a grown man of 50 who behaves like that? I have had a difficult time moving forward. But why does he not own up to his behavior?
GENTLE READER: Fortunately, that is no longer your problem. The compensation for enduring a cruel break-up ought to be the knowledge that you have escaped affiliation with someone capable of such cruelty.
Miss Manners suggests that your impetus for moving forward should be the thought of what your life might have been like if you had been saddled with such a person.
Even among people of good will, there are two schools of thought about how to end a romance -- and neither of them is satisfactory. Many now claim to favor a critique in which the jilter makes a case for why he doesn't want to be with you. The other method is to absolve the other person from fault -- the "It isn't you, it's me" routine.
The problem is that no matter how it is done, being jilted is no fun. About the most one can expect in the way of etiquette is for the jilter steadfastly to ignore the temptation to say too little or too much in an attempt to ignore the other person's feelings or to build a case putting that person in the wrong.
Your friend seems to have committed both types of rudeness. He did not allow you the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting, but he managed to say unpleasant things anyway.
It is no great mystery why people feel hostile toward those that they have wronged. You will probably not get back the handkerchief without a fight. And Miss Manners is stuck with the mystery of what he was doing with your grandmother's handkerchief in the first place.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper response when you receive a wedding invitation with a reply-by date that has already past?
I have received two such invitations. I don't know if it was overlooked, lost in the mail or what. I thought it was rude! Am I just overreacting? I don't know what to make of it.
GENTLE READER: The proper response, Miss Manners warns you, is very, very difficult:
You must refrain from speculating about being on the B list, who were only sent invitations after A-list people declined, and attempt to convince yourself that the problem had to do with an accident of the post. That does happen, you know. Miss Manners therefore advises you to accept or decline the invitation just as you would have if it had arrived on time.