DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boyfriend is wonderful: attentive, trustworthy and a devoted fan of yours! He’s so wonderful, in fact, that I’m ashamed to explain how his amiable disposition troubles me.
My primary concern is that he’s on friendly terms with each of his former girlfriends. He says that even though he’s no longer in love with any of his exes, he hopes to keep each one as a lifelong friend.
This is difficult for me. I do not enjoy reading upbeat comments from these exes on his social media posts. I cannot stand that my boyfriend expects me to share his enthusiasm when one happens to be passing through town and asks to meet us for lunch.
Worst of all? One ex-girlfriend lives just down the block from us. It’s tedious, crossing paths with her at the grocery store or the post office. It takes every ounce of energy I possess just to smile and greet her by name.
Once I even boarded a city bus to find her sitting beside my boyfriend in the same seat. I was furious.
My boyfriend was hurt and taken aback by my anger. He doesn’t understand why I find interacting with these women to be so unpleasant. He also thinks my request for him to terminate these friendships is unreasonable.
Friends argue that because my boyfriend is considerably older than me, he has had more time to develop non-threatening friendships with former lovers. That it’s not unusual, and the fact that he doesn’t hide them from me is also commendable.
Does etiquette permit close friendships between exes, or is my discomfort justified? Should I attempt to overcome my uneasiness around these women and appreciate having a boyfriend who refuses to hold grudges over past breakups?
GENTLE READER: You think the gentleman is wonderful. Other ladies think he is wonderful. Even Miss Manners, who has never met him (but finds herself susceptible to his flattery), thinks he sounds wonderful.
So why do you want to treat him as if he is not?
Would you be happier if he harbored unresolved grudges against these ladies, was sneaking off to see them without you and would be willing to help you figure out how to run one of them out of the neighborhood?
Your suggestion of overcoming petty feelings and appreciating the kinder disposition of your beau is an excellent one. Please make more of an effort to follow it.
Pearls of wisdom
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How many strands of pearls is too many? I had always heard that a lady should never wear more than three at one time. Now I see so many starlets and even Michelle Obama wearing five or six or more.
It still looks trashy to me. Have times changed?
GENTLE READER: Of course times have changed, but what do pearls care? With their innocent look, they don’t have to obey the rules that restrict their flashier peers.
Miss Manners supposes it is technically possible to wear too many pearls. But five, seven or even nine strands (in a choker worn on a very long neck) have never been considered trashy.
Notice that the possibility of four, six or eight strands was not mentioned. That is because pearls do not lead a totally unrestricted existence. As Miss Manners’ dear grandmother took care to teach her, “A lady does not wear an even number of strands of pearls.”
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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