Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Can I Ask Out My Engaged Friend?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am attracted to a close friend of mine; however, she is engaged to someone else. From her attitude and what I am told by her, it seems she is less than satisfied with the relationship.

We get along well, and I feel an attraction between us. Were she simply dating, I would not feel awkward, and would not think twice about pursuing a relationship. Is it wrong to pursue another who is engaged unhappily?

GENTLE READER: Were she in the morals business, Miss Manners would answer “yes.” Being in the etiquette business, she answers “yes” -- but for a different reason.

Implying that your friend has both poor judgment -- she should not be engaged to her current suitor -- and is untrustworthy -- she has feelings for you, while engaged to another -- is impolite. It is also unlikely to be effective. Instead, listen sympathetically -- and wait.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Does one need to make any type of acknowledgment when having a conversation in which both people pronounce the same word differently? I’m not talking about words that have regional influences, such as “car” and “caah,” but more like “dachshund” (“dock-sund” vs. “dashhound”) and others.

I realize that both parties believe they are pronouncing the word the correct way; it’s just that sometimes I get this awkward feeling when we go back and forth multiple times using the same word, as if it’s “dueling pronunciations”! Does either party need to acknowledge this in some lighthearted way, or just go with it?

GENTLE READER: If you cannot change the subject or laugh it off (“Oh, I never knew how to pronounce that”), at least change the word. Miss Manners realizes this will be easier if it is not being used to identify which of many dogs are involved in this scrum.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have two cats, a siamese and an orange tabby, both about 2 years old. When the orange tabby uses her litter box, well, it’s just pungent and disgustingly smelly.

My husband just sits there and says, “When you have pets, they come with smells.” I beg to differ, and think we should eliminate the smells as much as possible. What if we had company over?

What’s the proper etiquette in these matters? I think even one use with fresh litter is one too many. I think he’s trying to gaslight me and he’s just being lazy!

GENTLE READER: Without questioning the motive behind your hypothetical addition of guests, Miss Manners cannot help noticing that it decides the issue in your favor.

Yes, if guests are present, smelly cat boxes should not be. This does not, however, settle the question you pose.

Household questions should be decided by mutual agreement, with both sides giving greater weight to situations that cause greater discomfort. It would seem that your husband would, if he considered it, concede that the discomfort of having to get up is less than the discomfort of smelling ... cats. And this can be further offset by relocating the cat box or by taking turns changing the litter.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)