It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss house guest etiquette, gift-giving etiquette, and plain ol’ dating etiquette.
My mother-in-law just told my husband that she and my father-in-law are coming to town December 23 and staying until Christmas. Now, it’s a short visit, and since we’re having some other out-of-town guests that week, she doesn’t intend to stay with us, but it got me to thinking about when it’s appropriate/considerate to let someone know you’re coming to town. I feel like she kind of sprung this on us last minute; the holidays are usually so packed and planning can start months in advance. Shouldn’t you let people know you’re coming to town earlier than you might otherwise during the holidays? — The Inn is Full
Sure, but life happens and you can’t always plan things with as much advance notice as you might like or that etiquette would dictate. It’s the holidays and rather than hold a grudge or get resentful, why don’t you simply say to your in-laws: “What a happy surprise that you’ll be able to visit us this year. We’re excited to have you join us on some of the activities we already had planned.”
My boyfriend and I have been together for over two years and this year I volunteered to shop for his mother’s birthday present from both of us. I found a gorgeous designer handbag at a consignment store that I know is authentic and looks like it’s never been carried. It retails for about $300 and I bought it for a small fraction of that. If I bought this for my mom or any friend that knows me, I’d be over the moon at my good luck. Since this is his mom, who doesn’t know that I love second hand/consignment stores, I’m little concerned. I don’t want his mother to worry that we spent too much money (the purse was in our budget for gifts) and I’m trying to figure out a nice way to say “I bought it at a consignment store and didn’t pay near the retail price.” How can I reassure her that I didn’t spend too much and not sound tacky? Thanks! — Present Tense
I would simply say, “I found such an amazing deal, I couldn’t pass it up!”
I got out of a two-plus year relationship this past May in which I clearly came second (or third or fourth) with the guy I was dating. We’re talking cheating on me, cancelled dates for working out with his bros, calling me fat and lazy (not the case, thank you), making me feel bad for not having sex with him after bruising my ribs in a car accident, etc. It started at the end of college and has now put me two years behind in the world of “grown up” dating. I have had a few fits and starts dating and a short friends with benefits thing, but all have fizzled out before anything serious happened.Because of my dating history, I have recently adopted the new mantra “be selfish.” I am an extremely busy graduate student with very important career and life goals so I feel like now is the only time in my life when I can truly put myself first. However, I have no idea how to broach this with a potential dude friend. Do I come straight out and tell him he won’t be as important to me as my dissertation or would I just date as per usual and not let him know that I have no plans being serious with anyone any time soon? — Selfish in the City
I wouldn’t be so adamant that you’re opposed to a serious relationship. What if you meet someone who changes your mind about that? How about: “I’m really busy right now and not looking for anything serious, but I’m always open to see where things lead me.”
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.