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Brushing up on dating manners...

Dating and Life Etiquette for SinglesDating Etiquette and More for Singles

Below you will find tips, advice and articles from Jay on important etiquette topics specifically tailored to singles ranging from dating etiquette, special event etiquette, relationship etiquette, and more.  If you're single and living on your own and you are interested in reading some fun etiquette questions, check out the questions below and Jay's replies.

And don't forget to check out all 10 of our etiquette advice pages for the other stages of life.

Etiquette Tips for Living On Your Own


Fiance's Family or Mine?

Which family should I spend my vacation time with - my own or my fiance's? 

Dear Jay,
I recently got engaged to the love of my life, but his family didn't really seem that thrilled about which was somewhat understandable because my fiance's sister announced that she was pregnant a few weeks before we got engaged. It's now months later and his sister has had her baby. My fiance and I do not live together, I am still in college and he's living in a different town with his family about and hour and a half away. He wants me to come visit, especially for holidays, but I really want to go see some of my family. I know it would be rude of me to even ask him to choose my family over his family considering that his sister just had a baby and he's an uncle. Here's my question... I know that his family doesn't consider me to be a part of their family, they call me by me name and in no way want to classify me as aunt, which is fine, but I was wondering if I should just keep my distance from his family. We aren't going to be married for three years, or so and I just wanted to know if I should just give my fiance and his family some alone time considering they have a new baby.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  This is a great question.Your finance will have the answer. Establishing open and honest communication now will ensure a healthy lasting relationship. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

No graduation invite for long time boyfriend

Was it wrong of me to exclude my boyfriend from my daughter's high school graduation? 

Dear Jay,
I have been dating a man for about three years. I did not invite him to my daughter's high school graduation, and he is upset. We are both in our fifties. I have invited him to join my daughter and I to other events like a weekend in the mountains or the beach so we all can get to know each other as a potential family unit. We spent one Christmas together and it was pleasant. We have spent a lot of time together that included my daughter. He also does visit on occasional weekends. 

He is respectful to her, and does treat her well, but to me her graduation is so symbolic to me as I reflected on my life raising her on my own. On her graduation I wanted her to be surrounded with people that were a pillar of support through her early years that contributed to her being the fine young lady she is today.  I can understand how he may be feeling, because I felt the same when he did not invite me to his cousin's wedding or his daughter’s graduation (I have never met his children). But in retrospect, I felt he had his reasons. A relationship goes through stages, and as we become more and trusting and comfortable with each other, and intimacy (not physical, but emotional and spiritual deepens) we embrace each other more into our most treasured moments of each other's lives. I do love him very much, but his expectations seem beyond what I was able to fulfill at that time.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: My suggestion is to release control over exactly how you think things should be. Be as inclusive as possible. If you do not have enough emotional trust after three years of courtship, you likely never will. His feelings are valid. If he’s been hurt, apologize and don’t make that mistake again. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Paying for a guest condo

Who should pay for a guest condo while my friends are visiting me? 

Dear Jay,
I am having two friends come to stay with me for 2 nights; however, I do not have enough room. I only have 1 extra bedroom and these two people do not sleep together, but in the Condo where I live, there is a guest suite that can be rented. I can rent this for one of my friends, but I was wondering who should pay for this, me or my friend? How does this usually work?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Since you are the host, the responsibility is yours. Ideally you would have worked this out prior to them accepting your invitation. Guest suites are usually paid for by the person who has the condo - in this case that would be you. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Trust and Boundaries

How can I stop feeling guilty for setting boundaries with my boyfriend? 

Dear Jay,
My boyfriend and I recently started to live together about a month ago. He´s a movie producer and just yesterday asked me if it was ok to have a work related meeting in our home with another producer which is a woman and who I haven’t had the pleasure to meet. I had initially said it was ok, but this morning after thinking about it made my uncomfortable. I then asked my boyfriend to hold his meeting elsewhere. I feel bad because I don’t want him to think I’m not trusting him or that I feel insecure, and also because I want him to feel free to invite people over because it’s his house, too. I just want him to know from the beginning what I like and don’t like and have set boundaries, so we don’t have any issues in the future. Was this the best thing to do? How can I stop feeling guilty for setting boundaries?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Everyone needs to set boundaries without feeling guilty. The problem is when there is a fundamental lack of trust, the boundaries can be restrictive. My advice is to spend some time talking about your feelings with your b/f and perhaps that way you can find a safer more trusted space where your relationship can grow and be sustained. Trust is key to any healthy relationship. You may want to delve into this more deeply with a professional therapist who can help you discover the roots of your distrust. It likely has nothing to do with your b/f and everything to do with your past. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Leave Me Alone for my Birthday. 

How do I nicely tell my friends and family that I want to be left alone on my birthday? 

Dear Jay,
It my birthday Saturday, but I do not feel like having people over and I need a way to say that to my family and friends without sounding rude. Can you please help me?
How do I word it, and say that I will not be home for my birthday, so that they don't come? Because if I say nothing everyone will show up.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Do not consider yourself rude whenever you express your wants and feelings. I would tell the person in the family you are closest to that you’d like to spend this birthday on your own with no party, no one dropping by, and no cards or gifts. If that person asks why, just say that is what you feel like doing this year. No further explanation is required. You may need to repeat your wish if challenged, but no need to make a big deal out of this. Then ask that person to spread the word. You could email family members if that is easier. I hope you enjoy your special day. Many people like to spend time alone and are not afforded the opportunity very often. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Little Sister Rules the Roost

How do we resolve the situation with my girlfriend's little sister staying with us and always inviting her boyfriend over when we don't like it? 

Dear Jay,
My girlfriend and I have been together for almost 7 years now. We have been living in a house that we share for the past year and a half. My girlfriend’s little sister needed a new place to live and her father asked if she could stay in our basement if he paid to renovate it for her. The agreement was for her to live there rent free for around a year until she finished school and the father would pay for all the basement renovations. Everything was going fine with this arrangement until she starting dating this guy and he started coming over every day and staying with her. Both my girlfriend and I have said something about this to her and asked her to not bring him over all the time and she accuses us of trying to control her social life. 

My girlfriend and I are both becoming very resentful of her and we feel taken advantage of because having him stay over every night was not part of the arrangement we had both agreed upon with her and the father when we agreed to allow her to move in. He is using utilities that we are paying for, and also has his truck parked in front of our house. The father is taking the little sister’s side telling us that we cannot control her life and she can do whatever she wants. What steps can we take to resolve this issue?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  First of all, the house you are living in is yours to govern. Your rules are the ones everyone must follow. As far as the boyfriend and any rights little sister may have, they are at a distinct disadvantage here. Your father wants everyone to be happy, but is ignoring the fact that your home is your castle, not his. I suggest that you charge the boyfriend a small rental fee to cover any utilities he may use. I would not worry about the parked truck. I would also suggest that you consider being as charitable as you can be. Who knows. One day, the shoe may be on the other foot. Following the Golden Rule never does any harm. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Boyfriend's Buddy Needs to Move On

How do I deal with my boyfriend's friend staying with us too long when my boyfriend does not see it as a problem? 

Dear Jay,
My boyfriend and I recently purchased a place together and moved in a month ago. His friend was supposed to stay over for two days, but he has since extended his stay as he recently lost his job. I understand his situation and what he is going through, but it seems as if he currently has no plans and I have no idea how long he will stay. We recently started a new chapter of our life together, and I want some time to settle in. I have spoken with my boyfriend about it and he says that he needs to help his friend out. It might just be me with the problem, but I do not want his friend here. How should I approach this situation and what should I do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  It is in fact just you with the problem at the moment because your boyfriend is placing the basic needs of his friend ahead of yours. As an equal partner (I trust you are an equal partner), you need to have your feelings heard and understood. Perhaps they have been heard, but they have not yet been understood. You need to speak with your boyfriend and explain to him that this is a very important matter to you and that you feel intruded upon and cannot live this way. Acknowledge that his feelings are valid as far as wanting to help a friend in need. But, so are yours of wanting privacy. Your boyfriend needs to be on your side, otherwise you will be bullied into anything he wants. You need to learn to operate as a united couple when it comes to running your household. You will need to do that, and do it well before you can successfully rear a family. Have a civil conversation and come to an understanding or compromise, but be sure you both are satisfied. This will be a great opportunity for you to test your resiliency as a couple and as individuals. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

No Holiday Gatherings!

Do I need to attend all holiday gatherings just because my boyfriend wants me to? 

Dear Jay,
Manny and I have been dating 1 year. The last 3 months have been different because we are not as close and constantly bickering. He is very close to his family and I'm not to mine. We also have been on our own for many years and very set in our ways.

I'm not a big fan of holidays and groups of people. Manny does not understand and feels because “we're in a relationship", I should be attending all family functions. I am so not comfortable with this and certainly do not like Christmas gifts! Is this right? Do I have to attend everything?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You do have to attend one thing you do not want to attend. How supportive you are of your partner and of your relationship is reflected in your behavior, however. In any event, he should respect your wishes, but you should make an effort, too. If you are no longer close and are bickering, you have some more serious relationship issues to work out. You may want to consider professional counseling. Not all relationships do work out, but with a bit of work and a commitment by both parties, a lot do. Be safe. I hope this helps.


-Jay 

Mamma's Boy Doesn't Listen to Fiance

What do I do when I think my boyfriend's mother does not like me and he listens to her more than me? 

Dear Jay,
I have been in a serious relationship with my now fiancé for nearly two years. I am a divorced mother of four, and I married right out of high school and my ex-husband was very abusive. I felt freed when I finally got out. I met my now fiancé and we immediately got along. We have had our fair share of ups and downs, but this guy is my best friend. He is an only child with no children and a huge momma’s boy. I'm okay with that because I think it's wonderful he has such a great relationship with his mother and step dad. 

However, his mom is very opinionated about our relationship. I have expressed to him that the only time they met my children is when we were packing some of his stuff to move into our apartment and they weren't all that great with them. My children are first no matter what and my fiancé is well aware of my feelings on this. Long story short we have had a few bad fights where he ran home to his parents. During our last argument I told him I was sad that he didn’t invite me to his family’s Thanksgiving when I invited him to my family’s. (He did not come, by the way). He told me that he didn’t invite me because his mom doesn’t want me in her house. 

This is a man who has asked me to marry him, but I feel like he puts his mother and her words about us over our relationship. What do I do at this point? I love him but I'm not going to be pushed aside because his mother doesn't like me or the fact that I have four children. If he asked me to marry him and wants to have a baby with me then I should have some prevalence in his life.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  This relationship may be a serious one from your perspective, but I am not convinced he feels the same way. Being an only child, he may have stronger ties to his mother than he might otherwise. His mother has not let him leave the nest, and frankly, I am guessing that in her eyes, there is no woman good enough to be his wife. She is fearful of losing a part of herself. Your boyfriend is going to have to understand exactly what is going on here. This may take some professional counseling; however, you can begin by explaining how his actions make you feel. You need to set some personal boundaries as well. I am unsure of the nature of your “bad fights”, but arguments that become highly charged emotionally do not help build a solid foundation on which to have long term relationship. If you cannot learn to communicate openly, honestly and civilly when issues arise, without him running home to mama, you have little if any chance for a truly “serious” relationship. You need to have compassion for yourself and take a serious look at how disrespectful his family is to you and your children. Is this what you want for your future? It may be time to cut ties and regain some self respect. Your children do not deserve this kind of confusing pressure either. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Unwanted Holiday House Party

How do I tell my boss that I do not want her to invite people to my house for a Christmas party that I was not informed about until after the inviting was done? 

Dear Jay,
I work in a retail shop in a building with 8 other shops in it. Yesterday I was not at work. When I got to work today my boss and a lady from one of the other shops told me that yesterday they decided to organize a progressive Christmas dinner for all the people who work in the shops. To make a long story short, they decided that the ones of us who moved to different houses this year are the ones who will host the meals so that everyone can see their new houses. I am one of the ones who moved and my boss and the other lady told me they've decided my house will be one of the stops and that they have already invited the other people in the building to my house for that evening. I knew nothing about this until that moment.

I know this is true because I heard them inviting 2 other people in the building before they told me about it, and I couldn't understand what was going on at the time. When they told me this and expected me to be all happy, I was so flabbergasted I didn't know what to say, so I just said that I need to think about it, and was careful to not sound favorable. My boss laughed loudly and said, "What's to think about - it's a party!" leaving me feeling extremely uncomfortable and pressured into feeling like I will have to say its okay in order to please her.

It is not okay. I am angry that she would invite anyone to my house without even asking me first, including herself and other workers from other shops whom I hardly know and don't consider friends I would want to invite into my home. I also do not want her in my home, or to hang out with her outside of work hours. How in the world do I say all this to her and make it plain that I will not participate in this without getting into an awkward situation with my job? Is it wrong that I feel violated about this?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I completely empathize with you and understand clearly why you feel violated. You in fact have been violated. I suggest that you schedule a private meeting with your boss, a chance for you to explain to her exactly how her actions make you feel. This will no doubt feel awkward; you have a lot at risk potentially. The most important thing for you is to establish the fact that you have self respect and that she has inappropriately crossed over a boundary. Inviting herself and other people to your house is never acceptable. By explaining that you keep your private life and your work life separate by choice, and though you appreciate the offer to participate in the holiday festivities they have planned, you’re going to regret the invitation. If she cannot accept this line or reasoning and respect you for it, then you may want to consider working elsewhere. A culture of disrespect at your place of work is a toxic bit of energy you do not need - not now, not ever. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Uneasy About Girlfriend Traveling With Her Ex

How do I handle my girlfriend traveling with her ex for their son's team? 

Dear Jay,
My girlfriend has to go out of town with her son’s father for her son’s traveling team game. How do I handle this?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You must trust that they will behave appropriately and support their son as parents must do. If you have uneasy feelings about this, you need to clear these up with your girlfriend. Open communication, especially about something like this, is very, very important. Your relationship hinges on open and honest communications. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Aunt's Unequal Treatment Hurts

Should I be offended that my aunt takes both of my sisters on cruises and trips and never takes me? 

Dear Jay,
I'm the oldest of 3 sisters, now in my early 30's. I have 2 sisters, one and 5 years younger.  My dad's only sister was always around growing up.  She always stressed that it was important for things to be even, meaning if one got something, the other 2 got a little something also. I realized as I got older, around the time of puberty she seemed to care less for me. I would write her notes and thank you's for any gifts (something the other 2 never did). The only difference is they are her "God children" and she is an over zealous born again Christian. 

About 10 years ago my Aunt started traveling - cruises, and trips across the country. She took my youngest sister on a cruise (all expenses paid) and then cross country. I was excited for them. Then my aunt took my other sister on an all expense paid cruise in Mexico. That one stung a little more. Maybe the book of photos she gave me from their trip was a little insulting. Then she took my youngest sister on a different cruise. 

My dad passed away a little under 2 years ago and she took my younger sister around the funeral home introducing her to everyone as her cruise buddy right in front of me. To make matters a little worse before my father passed we were at his house hanging out in the kitchen, sisters and aunt at the table while I helped with the dishes as she cheerfully announced, "I just loved going on cruises with you girls, my cruise buddies.”  In a moment of being completely uncomfortable I said "Oh thanks" with a little laugh and her face just dropped and she started telling me all the reasons she knew I wouldn't be able to go.  

When I told her I actually would have had no problem, she changed the subject. Her gifts to me got more and more generic and I'm at the point I know she doesn't care for me (it's a trend among women of our family, but when you’re the scapegoat it's who you are). I know we're not close anymore but it still hurts.  I'm beginning to believe it's supposed to.  The photos from yet another cruise with my sister were sent to me after I told them not to worry about souvenirs (last minute gifts purchased at the airport on the way home) or postcards to help spare myself the pain of having it rubbed in.  It hurts. I don't dwell on it anymore, but every time I think about it I feel so sad. She's a grown woman that can do what she pleases with whomever she pleases, but does it seem a little off to you?  She was the one that made such a big deal about things being even. I feel little connection to her or my sisters anymore.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  There appears to be a breakdown in communication here. I suggest you pick up the phone and have a chat with your aunt explaining how her actions make you feel. I would also suggest that your feelings and reactions to what people may do or say are your responsibility. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “no one can insult you without your permission”. This means that if people hurt you, it is because you allow them to. In essence you give them the power to decide if you will be happy or not. It’s time to take that power back. To do this, I recommend that you reach out to your aunt and to your sisters and form stronger connections, perhaps restoring connections that have weakened over the years. As human beings, we cannot escape the realm of feelings. Your feelings are absolutely valid, but only you can change them. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Boyfriend and Family Don't Get Along

How do I deal with the fact that my boyfriend and my family don't like each other? 

Dear Jay,
My boyfriend and family don't get along. My boyfriend comes from a different culture and socio-economic status than my family is used to. He equates love to presents. My family can't provide that. Additionally, my family has different views and interests than he does. He thinks my family is boring because we don't bring up controversial subjects; we've discussed them before and agreed to disagree, so why keep tearing the band-aid off? He swears a lot, and it bothers my mom so she asked him not to. Now, he refuses to go anywhere where he is "shushed" which means he won't be coming to my mom's house for Christmas with my entire family. He complains that my family isn't "welcoming" but they don't have the same time or interest as he does in constantly Facebooking and texting since they all have jobs. Besides, why should they be welcoming when he isn't willing to make the effort to be a part of the family? I'm so stuck. I can see both sides of the argument.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  From what you describe, there are some potentially irreconcilable differences here. Your boyfriend does not have much respect for your family, nor have they for him. This is not unusual when people who are so different also lack the flexibility or interest to understand one another. For this relationship to work, a willingness on both parts to respect and understand each other is necessary. If this is not possible, there will always be friction. Is this what you want for your life? You have some difficult decisions to make. I recommend that you listen to your intuition honestly, and follow your heart. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Cousin Excluded From Trips

How do I deal with my cousin inviting other family members but not inviting me on trips? 

Dear Jay,
How do I handle a cousin who didn't invite me on a trip but invited my mother, brother, sister and her husband. This is becoming a habit of hers, planning trips with me than later canceling or making up an excuse. But, she would go on the trips with other family members after she cancelled with me.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I suggest that you have a conversation with your cousin privately and explain to her how her actions make you feel. Hopefully she can explain what is going on. She may not realize she is even doing this. Either way, if you want a clearer understanding, you need to communicate with her. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Boyfriend Wants to Abandon Houseguests

Is it inconsiderate to leave a houseguest alone and go to another function without them? 

Dear Jay,
Last week my brother who lives several hours away from me called and said he was on vacation and would like to come visit for a day (arrive Friday night, spend the night, and leave Saturday afternoon). I hadn't seen him in four months because our schedules don't allow us to travel and visit each other much, so I wanted him to come. The problem was, my boyfriend and I were planning on attending a birthday party for my boyfriend's two-year-old niece (his sister's daughter) on Saturday as well. His sister lives close and we see them quite often (and had just seen them two weeks prior at someone else's birthday get-together), and I told him there was no reason for him to miss the party, but that if I told my brother it was alright for him to come then I would not attend.

My boyfriend suggested that I do both, leaving my brother at home for 2+ hours while I went to the party. He suggested that my brother could go get lunch or find something else to do while I was at the party. I said I thought that would be rude because my brother was coming to visit me, not the town. He wasn't vacationing and staying over with me, he was coming to see me specifically and since he was only going to be here for less than 24 hours I wanted to make the most of our time together.

Do you think I'm right in thinking that it's rude to leave a guest alone when they're visiting for such a short time? This is the second time this type of situation has come up between my boyfriend and me. Another time I had an out-of-state friend (who was not a family member) spending the night with me, and my boyfriend wanted me to go for a drive with him that night, leaving my friend in my house alone. My boyfriend got upset (and still doesn't understand) why I said I didn't want to leave her there alone because it would be inconsiderate.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I see two different situations here. In the first one involving your brother, you had previously accepted an invitation to your niece’s 2nd birthday party. While I don’t put a lot of weight on 2nd birthday parties in general, the fact of the matter is that you accepted an invitation and you have some obligation to attend. You could have explained this to your brother before arrangements with him were settled. This is similar to accepting an invitation, then receiving a better one and trying to back out of the first one. If he agreed, your boyfriend could have gone to the party alone, with a simple phone call explaining the change in plans once the new plan had been set. You and your boyfriend need to be able to communicate well enough to settle this sort of issue easily and amicably. There will be bigger issues to face in life. 

As to the second situation involving your visiting girlfriend, you are in the right. It would be rude to abandon your houseguest to go for a drive. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Fiancee's "Friend" Seems Suspicious

How do I know if my fiancee's female friend is using him or not? 

Dear Jay,
My fiancé has a female friend who is like a daughter to him. I have tried to be friends with her, but she will only call him. She has problems with her marriage and finances, so he helps her. He helps lots of people, but she wants nothing to do with me. Is she using him? We have invited her over often, but she won't come when I am home.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I think you and your fiancee should have a chat about this situation. Perhaps it would be best to allow her the privacy she seems to want. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Truck Miscommunication Leads to Family Strife

How do we tell my brother that he has to pay for the car that he traded to my girlfriend if he wants it back? 

Dear Jay,
My girlfriend and I live in a home with my twin brother. Through some events about a year ago (before we all lived together), he traded her his truck for a four wheeler that I had purchased for her as a birthday gift. She just recently got a different car, and we were going to sell the truck on Craigslist. However, he is now without transportation and my girlfriend is willing to sell him the truck for 1/2 the asking price, so it would be a win win for everyone. 

Except he seems to be under the impression that he can just have the truck. My girlfriend is not in the position to just give it to him, and he makes more than enough money to buy it. She is having a hard time bringing up money for the vehicle as he continues to make statements that imply it is just his for the taking. I would really like to help her find a way to diplomatically address this with him rather than having to get in the middle of it. It would seem like being straightforward should be easy enough, but we have all had our problems with each other in the past, and I would like to avoid adding this one to the list. 

Why does it feel so awkward to want to ask for money when he was willing to shell out $600 to a neighbor down the street for a vehicle that doesn't even run? We will be avoiding mixing family and finances at least in this type of situation in the future.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Money issues are some of the biggest challenges we may face, especially with family. Many emotions become associated with money because money is a powerful force. As a result, we tend to overcomplicate matters surrounding any financial situation. Somewhere along the line your friend’s point of view and your girlfriend’s parted ways. The sooner clear communication is established, the sooner this will resolve. Deal with the facts as they are now; do not confuse things with lingering feelings from past encounters. Do not compare this with your neighbor’s deal. Just say that you want to clear up an apparent misunderstanding. You and your girlfriend should both be present to avoid any he said, she said arguments down the line. A witness is often essential to any important conversation. Stick to the facts at hand and avoid heightened emotions. I would insert an apology when possible. I would also recommend taking responsibility for the misunderstanding. Do not accuse him. Taking responsibility actually puts you in the driver’s seat. Accusing anyone has the tendency to shut down healthy conversations. I hope this helps.


-Jay 

Mom Doesn't Want Daughter Bringing Boyfriend Home for Christmas

Is it understandable that I don't want my daughter bringing her boyfriend home for Christmas? 

Dear Jay,
My 24 year daughter is coming home for Christmas. She wants to invite her boyfriend to my home. I am uncomfortable with that, but she insists. I am a single mum and feel very stressed about it.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: I can understand your apprehension, but if your daughter is an upstanding adult, I recommend that you trust her. I’m sure she wants you to be comfortable in your own house and will act respectfully at all times. On the other hand, your home is your castle and you are well within your rights to make the house rules. Your daughter ought to respect your rules and your feelings, but remember that she is your daughter. You raised her with your values. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. And, I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Son Irritated Mom Won't Include His New Girlfriend

Am I right to be wary of my 22 year old son wanting to invite his very new girlfriend to visit the family? 

Dear Jay,
My son is 22. He is basically a great kid. He is working and going to college, but still lives at home. He has had several girlfriends in his past- all pretty short term (nothing over 6months). Now he has a new one again, that he says he's been dating for 3 months. He's mad at me because I told him he couldn't bring her to a family party. I have only met this person 1 time myself, and don't even know her last name or much about her. He says I am being mean because he's met her family. I think this is an inappropriate time to have her jump right in. This may end up being a nice relationship for him, but both my husband and I think he should take more time getting to know her before introducing her to the family, especially since he doesn't have a longevity pattern with girls.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  He may be receiving your message as one that basically says you don’t trust him. Your son is an adult now, and even though he lives with you, he has rights and privileges. Who he decides to have relationships of whatever shape or size is not your responsibility. Allow him to follow his path, as you I hope are following yours. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Time Share Over Share

Was it okay that I invited another couple to my boss's timeshare? 

Dear Jay,
My boss gave me a week in Aruba as a perk to my job at his own personal time share. I invited anther couple to join us that week. Is that rude to have invited someone to this timeshare? Or should I have been happy that they offered it to us and go alone?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You may have wanted to ask permission before inviting others to his time share. He may well have agreed to your request. He may not be bothered by your actions, but you are opening yourself up to unnecessary stress. Hope this helps.

 -Jay 

Couch Surfer's Manipulation Hurts Friend

What do I do about my university friend who lied to me about visiting friends and excluding me from the visit while staying with me? 

Dear Jay,
A very old uni friend of mine (of thirty years - I am close to other members of his family as well) who stays with me on and off for months on end, almost every summer, secretly went out to lunch with mutual friends (a couple) by pretending that he was just seeing one of them for a quick drink "in the city".

The four of us had already discussed how we would meet up before he left and although they were making the hike in order to give him a farewell, they were fully expecting to see me as well and looking forward to a leisurely lunch with the four of us.

In the end though, it was the couch surfer who made arrangements, and he deliberately led me to believe that he was just seeing the man of the couple for a brief drink "somewhere in the city" (never mind that the city is all of 200 metres away). I felt a little left out, but rationalized it by thinking "it's just the boys - they might want to spend some time together".

Anyway, what actually happened and had been the plan from the beginning, was that they went out to a three-hour lunch practically on my door step at my favorite restaurant. I told the couch surfer how hurtful that was and his response was "they're my friends and I wanted to spend time with them.” Bear in mind that they are very much my friends too, that they were expecting, and looking forward to seeing, me as well, and that he spent four whole days alone with them a couple of weeks ago at their holiday house just a couple of weeks ago. They told me they wondered where I was, and had assumed I had too much work to come, but also felt a bit uncomfortable about being a two minute walk from my flat and not seeing me.

The worst thing is that the couch surfer (who comes and goes from my flat as he pleases and has a key), manipulated me into thinking that the arrangements were other than they were, and in effect lied to our friends as well. He is actually renowned for his occasional selfishness, and I suspect he has done something like this before with the same friends (leading me to think that they liked his company so much more than mine, but "never mind, they have the right to feel like that". Now I wonder whether he'd just told them that I couldn't go...).

I feel like I've been stabbed in the back and the whole thing is still making me cry. The mutual friends are saying not to worry about it, and the three of us will go out another time after he's gone and have a great time etc etc, but I still feel betrayed and manipulated. Am I right to feel so?
I should point out that the couch surfer is also funny and good company and although often selfish and inconsiderate, sometimes sweet and generous (at least when it's easy for him to be so).

Jay's ANSWER...
A: The time has come for you to have a chat with your friend, the couch surfer. Your feelings are clearly hurt, and although we are responsible for our feelings, we also have a right to be respected. Communication about awkward moments is uncomfortable, but necessary. I suggest you sit down with him and explain exactly how his actions make you feel. He needs to be told that once trust is jeopardized, it is very difficult to regain it. In fact, there is nothing really wrong with him spending time alone with anyone he wants, but lying is unacceptable. In most cases, raising his awareness of this dynamic will help him to change his ways. If this doesn’t do the trick, limiting your time with him is a logical alternative. After all, you must maintain your own self respect. Without that, respecting others will always be a challenge. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Concerned Friend Wants to Help But Doesn't Know How

How can I help my disabled friend deal with her sister's unwanted intrusion in her home? 

Dear Jay,
I am inquiring this question for a friend. She has a sister and her husband and a baby I believe all living with her in a small one bedroom apartment.The sister does nothing to help clean,and just pretty much just exists there. Can you tell me how I might be able to help this friend in giving suggestions? She is fed up. She has disabilities, and she fights with depression and can't take much more of the stress this is causing her. What would she be able to do? I mean it's not like her life is in danger from her sister, but I think you can get my drift. She wants the sister out, and apparently either the sister won't go or I don't know. What does one do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: The most important thing to happen is for your friend to speak directly with her sister and explain how the situation is making her feel. Her home is her castle, and she must set boundaries and house rules. Her extended family must find a place of their own. They are not your friend’s responsibility. If she needs her privacy, she must say so. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

New Roommate's Strange Men Aren't Welcome

How do I address my new roommate bringing men that I don't know to our apartment? 

Dear Jay,
I own a house and to help pay for bills I recently got a roommate. I always lived with my exes, but never with a roommate. We’re both females; we met and conversed for a month prior to her moving in. I thought we were on the same page, but now that she is here I am very surprised and don't believe we are on the same page now. I guess what I consider as common courtesy is different from hers. 

She has moved in and I expected for her to have guests over, but she has only been here for exactly 1 week and in that time she has had 2 separate men come over and stay 3 nights. These are people I haven't met prior to staying. I guess to me I figure I let you meet people I know, including my boyfriend of 2 years and let you get comfortable around him prior to letting him stay since you are a female living with me. The man my roommate is dating she met off the internet. She has known him for less than a month, and already having him stay. 

Am I wrong for being uncomfortable about him staying so soon and how can I politely address this issue? I don't mind him staying after I get to know him, but this is a person I never met who shows up in the middle of the night and she doesn't really know well. I don't know if he will rob us, rape us, or who knows what else. It's a safety concern to me, so how can this be addressed? Thanks.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Explain to your new roommate exactly what you have explained to me. This is a real safety issue. Perhaps you might suggest she meet her new friends at their place and get to know them before bringing them around. Make sure you are comfortable with her having friends over at all. If this is the real issue, you need to reconsider your agreement. I understand your concerns and so should she. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Husband Wants to Unwind in Peace After Work

How do I get my girlfriend to understand that I need I don't want people in the house other than her when I get home from my physically demanding job? 

Dear Jay,
I asked my girlfriend to not have anyone at the house when I get home from work. I work on a drilling rig from 3pm to 11pm. It is a physically demanding job and I am often worn out when returning home near midnight. She said she doesn't believe it is a problem. I told her it is a problem. What do I do??

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You will need to express to her why her not understanding that refusing your request is a problem. It is in fact dismissive and disrespectful of your feelings. You need to come before her friends. I don’t think being dictatorial about this request will be helpful however, and you may want to consider loosening your stance, so maybe she could have friends over a couple of nights a week. Coming home and unwinding in your own house without having the obligations of chatting with other people is a very reasonable request. This is a very simple matter. I hope you two can work this one out, because you’ll be in for some big surprises down the road otherwise. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Messy Houseguest

How do I let my friend who is temporarily living with me know that he needs to start cleaning up after himself without sounding rude? 

Dear Jay,
I have a friend who has fallen on quite a bit of bad luck. I consented to allow the friend to stay in my guest room. He keeps the guest room messy, but as long as the door is closed, I'm not bothered. Now, the friend is starting to keep common areas messy. How do I tell my friend to clean up after himself without being rude?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Having house rules is not being rude. It actually shows that you care about your place and have respect for yourself, something your friend may not have. Speak with him and let him know what you require of all houseguests. If he can’t respect that, it’s time for him to move on. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Landlord Inflexible About Unscheduled Visits

Is it fair that my landlord kicked me out just because I didn't plan for someone to spend the night? 

Dear Jay,
I moved into a place three months ago I had a friend come visit and stay the night. I live with my landlord who owns the place and rents out a room to me. Also another room is rented out. I was confronted about the guest I had come to stay and that I did not ask and that next time I would need to. Another 5 weeks went by and another student came to my place to pick me up. It was late when he got back in and he had been drinking, so I offered for him to come inside and he stayed the night. 

The next day all my things were packed and left at the front door. Does this seem fair? It was not planned to have him stay. It was late when we arrived back to my place and it just happened that way. In the past I have asked to have a friend come visit and a family member also stay on both occasions they did not end up coming over, but this was not planned.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  It sounds to me like the landlord is inflexible. This is his choice, even though it does seem unfair. If communicating with him doesn’t work, you’ll obviously need to find another place to live. Be sure to have a clear understanding with your next landlord. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Sick Co-Worker Making Others Sick!

How do I handle my perpetually sick co-worker who comes to work when she is sick? 

Dear Jay,
I have a coworker (equal in seniority) who comes into work sick all of the time. She is usually contagious. She likes to make her way around the office to tell everyone just how sick she is.  I'm not sure if she's looking for pity or kudos for coming in sick. She's definitely gotten people sick in the office. We report to the same boss. What's the best way for me to not be around her?  Do I talk to her, my boss, or just take a sick day myself when she's in the office?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I would suggest that you let her know that when she is sick, she should stay away from you. She also should wash her hands and her phone and anything else she touches regularly. This is common sense. If this becomes an issue, report it to your boss and let her or him handle it. In the meantime, wash your hands and stay healthy. Why she comes to work sick isn’t your concern; the fact that she comes in at all when she is sick is your concern. By telling her to stay away and to cover her mouth when she coughs or sneezes is a good first step. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Shirtless and Disrespectful

Am I overreacting or was my boyfriend being totally immature by ignoring my request? 

Dear Jay,
My boyfriend and I are currently living together. I had a friend come visit me from my home town and she and I both slept in the same bed. My boyfriend slept in the living room on a blow-up mattress. After he showered he put on his pajama pants with no shirt like he would do on a normal day. My problem is, I feel that it is very rude and inappropriate for him to think that it is ok to walk around the house half naked. He thinks because he's a dude it doesn't make a difference. Most importantly, I feel that if I'm uncomfortable with it then he should fix it with no debate or conversation about it. I literally had to ask this 27 year old man 3 times privately to put on a shirt and he ignored my request. So I sent him a text telling him the same thing but with a little more attitude this time around and he still gave me trouble. Am I overreacting or is my boyfriend immature and ignorant?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Your boyfriend sounds like a loser. He disrespects you and your friend. He likely doesn’t have much respect for himself. I’d say three strikes and you’re out. This is a small matter compared to the sorts of decisions most people in relationships face. If he can’t understand this concept, he’s not relationship material, in my opinion. I hope this helps..
-Jay 

Want to Decline Baby Shower Invite

Is it okay for me to say no to an invitation to my boyfriend's cousin's baby shower? 

Dear Jay,
Is is okay if I don't want to attend my boyfriend's cousin’s baby shower? All the ladies in his family are going to be there. My boyfriend asked me the same day of the baby shower if I wanted to go. No one mentioned to me before that there was a baby shower and that I was invited. He said that his aunt had bought specific tickets for a buffet for each one and she bought one for me, which makes it seem like I have to go because If I don't then that money of my ticket is wasted and it may look bad on my side not to go. But I don't know the ladies very well and I get nervous and don't know what do say, and I don't like to participate in games and stuff and I feel obliged to. I said no, but I feel bad because my boyfriend’s mom does not like me very much, and I don't want her to think that I don't try to get along with her family, but I am just not comfortable.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: I can appreciate how awkward this situation is and how unsettled this can make you feel. I recommend that your boyfriend have a chat with his mother and explain a couple of things. First of all, you never received a proper invitation in any form and feel like an intruder crashing a party to which you weren’t invited. Secondly, that you are very shy and don’t like such gatherings. If your relationship is going to last, this is a hurdle that is going to need to be cleared at some point. Your boyfriend is going to need to stand up for you in such situations. You do not need to apologize for your feelings. They are real; they are valid; and they need to be respected. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Not Picked for Vacation Companion

Is it okay that my friend who I took on vacation with me, didn't pick me to go on vacation with her? 

Dear Jay,
I invited a friend on vacation last year. We had fun. This year she had the opportunity to pick someone to go on vacation with her, however she didn't pick me. I feel like she should have at least asked me if I was interested. Is what she did okay?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Yes, it’s OK. She has more than one friend obviously and is under no obligation to pick you first. She likely will reciprocate at another time. Be grateful you have her as a friend. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Responsibilities of the Host

Does the host pay for all the food on vacation? 

Dear Jay,
If I invited friend to my summer home for 4 days in the Bahamas, as the host am I expected to pay for all of the food.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Four days is not exactly an overnight visit, but getting to the Bahamas is not inexpensive either. You, as host, would plan to pay for the food, and if she offers to assist in any way, be grateful. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Vacation Expenses

What expenses should I plan to pay if my friend invited me to vacation with her for a month? 

Dear Jay,
My friend who owns a time share condo asked me to vacation with her for a month. What should I be expected to pay? I plan to pay for my airfare. Should I be expected to pay for a car rental and gasoline while there? I do expect to pay for my own entertainment, food, and shopping expenses.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: You should offer to pay for half of the car rental and associated expenses if you will be using the car, too. Financial arrangements can vary from one situation to another, but be sure to work out every detail before boarding the plane! I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Inviting Fiancee's Parents

Should I invite my financee's parents to my sister's graduation party? 

Dear Jay,
My fiancee and I have been dating almost 6 years starting back in high school. One of my sisters has recently graduated and we were trying to decide if its proper etiquette to have his parents invited. We both have younger siblings that go to the same schools; however, they are all in different grades. I am extremely close to his parents, but someone said because the parents didn't know my sister as well as me that they shouldn't be invited. What advice to you have?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Inviting people is in the hands of the host. For a graduation, there is usually a relationship between the graduate and the guests. In this case, it sounds like there is not much of a relationship, so I would not invite them. It may come across (unintentionally) as a gift grab. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Former Friend Isn't Welcome Anymore

How do I tell my former friend that I don't want her and her new husband to crash at my place when they are visiting my city without being rude? 

Dear Jay,
I have a friend from childhood that I don't really consider a friend anymore. She lives in a city I never visit and we did not really keep in touch. The only reason she calls is because she needs to come to my city and she needs a place to crash. I am a private and sensitive person and I need my space and my discipline so I can function. The biggest problem is that we have nothing in common. She knows nothing about me. I think she sees me as I was years ago when we were close. She is extremely critical and invasive, as she probably acts with those who are really familiar to her.

In any case, now I live alone and she insists on coming and staying at my place with her new husband for a few days. There is another problem, every time she comes, she uses my cosmetic products. I am really careful with how much I consume of anything because I am an artist and I almost never have enough money for anything. She, on the other hand, can afford to travel the world just for fun.

How exactly can I deal with her invasiveness without being rude?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: All you need to do is tell her you do not have room for guests. Period. I hope this helps.
-Jay 

Annoyed by Refrigerator Etiquette

Is it okay if I get annoyed when plates of food are left in the refrigerator? 

Dear Jay,
Is it inappropriate to become extremely annoyed when someone leaves plates of food in your refrigerator for several days?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Becoming "extremely annoyed" about this rather minor infraction is inappropriate. What’s the big deal? If the food is in your way, speak up and ask that it be put in a smaller container - or eaten. If it’s gone bad, throw it out. Surely you can establish some simple refrigerator rules that can help this situation. Save getting “extremely annoyed” for something important.
-Jay 

Fiancee's Family Moved In

How do I deal with my fiancee's siblings moving in with us? 

Dear Jay,
My fiancee and I got engaged 5 months ago and his sister just moved into our home along with his 3 other siblings. What should I do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: This is hardly an ideal situation for setting up a life together. Why did you allow this to happen? If you are OK with it, enjoy. If you don’t, you’ll need to have a serious chat with your fiancee. If this doesn’t end in a good resolution, you may want to recalculate your relationship, and your life! Good luck. I hope this helps.

-Jay 

Overstaying Welcome?

Is it rude for me to stay with my boyfriend's family longer than 7 days even if I was invited for the whole summer? 

Dear Jay,
I'm going to stay with my boyfriend and his family on Nantucket this summer. They asked me to stay for the entire summer, but I ended up settling on a ten day visit. My parents have insisted that it is horribly rude to stay for more than seven days. However, I feel as though I'm past that level of informality because they genuinely view me as part of the family. What would you advise?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Follow your instincts. Why your parents would chime in at this point  is not surprising, but they did not have the whole story. Assuming your are an adult, this whole matter is really not their responsibility. Depending on how far you want to take this, I would advise that you either drop the discussion, or if necessary, bring them up to speed. Rest assured, from my perspective you are not being rude in the slightest. Parents often have a difficult time with children leaving the nest, and making the shift from being responsible to no longer being responsible. Have compassion and keep your communication lines open. I hope this helps.

 Jay 

Honest instead of rude to Aunt

How do I tell my aunt that I honestly don't want her to stay with my fiancee and me without being rude? 

Dear Jay,
I am 31 years old and live with my fiancee in his house. My Aunt asked if she and her husband could stay at my place for a few nights. They are twice as old as me, and I have stayed at their house before (they live out of town). However, they are always inviting people to stay over. I have never invited anyone to stay at my house. Also, she has 2 sisters that live in the area that she can stay with, but because of personal issues she does not want to stay with them. What should I do without being rude? My fiancee and I both like our own space and would be okay with one night but not 4 nights.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Honesty is the best policy, and you must be willing to be honest. There are a couple of choices that come to mind. The first is to simply explain to your aunt that you cannot accommodate house guests. Perhaps you really don’t have enough room. Another choice is to welcome them with open arms and be grateful for the opportunity to spend time with them. You may break through a barrier or two and have fun doing so. I hope this helps.

 Jay 

Roommate Confrontation Blues

How should I handle my roommate blowing up over every little thing? 

Dear Jay,
I am rooming with someone and splitting the rent evenly with them, but am making a career change and have been physically staying elsewhere. My pet snake had to stay in the house that I am renting, and I needed my kid brother to go by and feed him while I am away. I gave the roommate a heads up that he was coming by out of courtesy, but she made a huge stink about "telling" her he was coming over instead of "asking", claiming that I should have communicated with her and determined a time for him to come by that would have been convenient for her. I thought I was being considerate in letting her know that he was coming, so one of my questions is this: Is it necessary to "ask" if a family member can pop by to carry out a short chore while I am still paying half the rent, and work around the roommate's schedule? Or can my brother, within reason, of course, go by as my proxy whenever I give him permission to, as long as it isn't disturbing her sleep or everyday life?

I feel that this situation is, for lack of a better word, silly. She claims that if I do not respect her feelings and have my brother go by to feed my snake while she is not home, she will call the police. Does she have a right to do this? Or am I within my rights?

I am asking about this situation partly because I am genuinely curious and have not been able to find any cases similar to this online, but mostly because this is a perfect example of a lot of my recent interactions with this roommate. A lot of small interactions that I would not even consider issues are blown entirely out of proportion, and everything has to be a fight. I would really appreciate any advice you have in dealing with situations like this.

Jay's ANSWER...

A: I understand the situation and support your viewpoint. As to any legal issues, that is not my department. However, from a common sense perspective, your brother should be able to go and feed your snake as you have suggested, if for no other reason than you are still paying rent. If this ’silly’ situation is but an example of others, there is no doubt an underlying cause for this shift in behavior. Perhaps asking her what the trouble is would be helpful. You have the same rights as she has. This is not about her feelings. This is about her selfishness. Communicating with her is the only solution. If that does not work and you tire of these petty confrontations, I suggest finding another roommate. I hope this helps.
 
Jay

Toilet Lid Etiquette

Should the toilet lid be left up or down? 

Dear Jay,
What is the proper etiquette regarding whether or not a commode lid should be up or down when not in use?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: Seat and lid should both be down when not in use. I hope this helps.
 
Jay

House rules don't suit long term guest

Does my landlord legally have the right to tell me I can't have people over to his place if I don't pay rent? 

Dear Jay,
I have lived at my current place for years. I get my mail here and everything. I tried to give the landlord money for staying here, but he told me to save my money and just help around the house and that would be sufficient, so I do just that. The landlord has even told me to consider this my home and that it as much my house as it is his. Now he is saying that I cannot have the girl I’m engaged to over at the house and she has done absolutely nothing to him. The problem as I see it is that my landlord is gay and does not want her here because she has me and he doesn’t. He says that’s not why, but he has told me that if he can’t have me then no one else can. Lately, my landlord is saying that I am a guest and that he isn’t my roommate or my landlord. Technically I am not a house guest because of the verbal agreement we had and how much I help him around the house. Can my landlord legally tell me that I can’t have my fiancee over since he owns the property?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: You are in fact a guest in Jim’s house. Follow his rules. If they don’t suit you, find your own place to live. If you want to live with your girlfriend, you should have your own place anyway. It’s high time you stand on your own two feet. I hope this helps.
 
Jay

Boyfriend's mom needs to chillax

How do I tell my boyfriend's mom that I don't want her involved when my parents visit us? 

Dear Jay,
My boyfriend and I live around the corner from his parents and my parents live about an hour and a half away. We see his mother often sometimes 3 or 4 times a week, but see my parents much less, once a month at the most. We have made plans for when my parents visit for the day and his mother has invited herself and husband. Am I being unreasonable to tell them no? We never get to spend “just us” time with my parents because when we visit them other family are always around, too. My boyfriend’s mother has not only invited her and her husband to our plans, but tried to take them over. We were meant to go out for lunch and now she is insisting on cooking for us all at her house. I don't want to upset or offend her, but I think it's really rude of her to do this.

Jay's ANSWER...

A: You need to improve communication with your boyfriend and his parents; and you need to lay down some house rules. First, you and your boyfriend need to agree to house rules; there may be 2 rules, there may be 200. Follow them yourselves and make sure everyone knows about them. This would include inviting one’s self over. If you don’t want people inviting themselves over, you need to tell them this clearly, but nicely. You don’t just show up on someone’s doorstep unannounced, and you don’t want anyone else to either. Fair enough - it’s your house. Your boyfriend should be the one to let his parents know what the new rules will be. When you grew up, there were most likely house rules everyone had to follow. Now that you have a house of your own, it’s time to set up your own. Do not worry about upsetting anyone. If they don’t like the rules, too bad! I hope this helps.
 
Jay

Disobedient Boyfriend

Should my boyfriend follow my curfew rules if he is staying with me and I am paying all the bills? 

Dear Jay,
My boyfriend is staying with me at my house. He does not pay any of the bills. My request is that he would be home no later than 11 p.m. He says I'm being disrespectful of his freedom. My position is - he disrespects me by not following my house rules.

Who is right?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Cohabitation carries equal rights for both people unless an arrangement has been made. From what you tell me, you think you get to tell your b/f what to do because you pay the bills. Why do you pay the bills? He should be free to come and go as he pleases. If this doesn’t suit you, perhaps you need a different boyfriend? He is not being disrespectful; you are. I hope this helps. 

Jay

Boyfriend on Family Trip . . . Uh oh

What's the etiquette for rooming with my boyfriend on a family trip? 

Dear Jay,
My boyfriend is coming on a trip with my family. Is it ok to ask my family that my boyfriend stay with us (sharing a room with me and my brother) or should we pay for our own room? We're in our mid to late twenties and have been dating for 3 years. My parents don't 100% approve of my boyfriend, but I am hoping for a fun trip where we can all get along. Suggestions?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: There are a a lot of obvious questions that come to mind such as why are you going on this trip if there’s such tension? I have to assume you’ve already asked and satisfactorily answered this and similar ones. That being the case, from a strict etiquette point of view, if your parents are hosting, i.e., paying for this trip, then you and your brother share a room, and your b/f has his own room. Or, your b/f and your brother share a room and you have the single. If you had been living together for three years, the answer would be different. I hope this helps.
 
Jay

Avoiding company

Is my fiancee's behavior appropriate when I have guest over? 

Dear Jay,
Is it rude of my fiancee to leave the room and sit by herself in the bedroom when my friends come over?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: If you and your fiancee have invited your friends over jointly, then yes, it would be rude. If you invited them on your own, no it is not rude. She has no obligation to entertain your friends. She has as much right to do what she wants as you have. I hope this helps.

Jay 

Roommate angry over unannounced guests

Is it my obligation to tell my roommate when I have guests coming over? 

Dear Jay,
I am a homeowner and recently rented a room in my home to a friend in need.  I gave access to all the amenities to her charging a flat rate.  I have several family and friends in the surrounding area that come over frequently to visit and sometimes at unannounced times, which is fine with me.  My roommate feels that I need to clarify with her when people are coming over or will be here.  Where is the line as a homeowner? Do I need to clarify with said roommate about when I have guests coming over?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: You are under no obligation. That needs to be made clear. If she doesn’t like it, she can leave. Your home is your castle, not hers! I hope this helps.

Jay

Information on funding

How can I properly check on the status of my funding when I need it right now? 

Dear Jay,
I was considered as a candidate for financial hardship from a Breast cancer foundation.  What would be the proper way to check the status of the financial help they are sending to me due to the need of it now?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: I am sorry to hear you are battling cancer. I do hope you have a full and speedy recovery. My advice is to call them on the telephone. You want to establish a relationship with someone at the foundation on a professional, yet somewhat personal level. Health and finances are two huge concerns to everyone. I do not think this is a suitable email topic yet. Establish a contact; inquire of them what the status of your candidacy is; follow up with email - be sure to get their email address. I hope this helps.



Jay

Racial Slurs in Greetings

Can I use a racial slur in a greeting to a friend of the same color? 

Dear Jay,
Is it acceptable to use racial slurs in a greeting if you are of the same color as the person whom you are greeting?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: No. This sort of ‘slang’ has been in the news of late. I don’t buy it. It is disrespect disguised as casual humor. It’s not funny. It’s disrespectful. Full stop. I hope this helps.



Jay 

Footrest Test

What is the etiquette for putting my feet on a footrest? 

Dear Jay,
Is it bad manners to place your foot or feet on the footrest of a pub table chair made of a dark color wood while a guest in someone's home?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: If a chair has a footrest and you are sitting in the chair, then no, it is not bad manners at all. I hope this helps.



Jay

Initiating contact to go to the movies

Who should follow up after an initial attempt to get together to go to the movies with another couple? 

Dear Jay,
We invited a couple for a movie. They suggested that the following weekend would be better.  We said okay.  Who should initiate the next contact?  I thought the hosting party should issue the follow-up invitation, but am told the other couple should initiate contact to demonstrate that they really had an interest in getting together for a movie.  Your thoughts?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: The hosting party issues the follow-up also. Whoever gave you the alternative suggestion is mistaken, in my opinion. I hope this helps. 
Ja
Left out 

Am I wrong to feel left out when my family doesn't include me in their adult games and activities even though I am 19? 

Dear Jay,
I love my family, it just feels like they treat me like a teenager still even though I'm nineteen. For example when family comes over and everyone is chitchatting and playing board games of four, I feel left out because they don't care to incorporate me in games or talk to me. I try my best to mingle, yet it feels lonely why they get to have fun.  If guests ever came to my house in the future I would want everyone to play together.  Why does this feeling like they don't want to hang with me happen?  They are older and have more in common so can see, but why do they make me feel left out every time?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: How sad this makes you feel. I can hear it in your words. My advice is that you sit down with the person to whom you feel safest and explain how this behavior makes you feel. They will not know this unless you explain it to them. People generally don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. Perhaps they will make more of an effort to include you in future games, or at least give you a reason why you are not included. I hope this helps.

Jay

Games with boys

Should I be concerned that our game nights have invited more boys to come than girls? 

Dear Jay,
I live in a duplex with my two sisters. We kind of have an open house policy and every Sunday we play games with our friends from 9 until midnight. We want to have our guests feel comfortable and that they feel the freedom to stop by and visit. My main concern is that recently it has turned into there are more guys now than there are girls in our group that attend our Sunday game nights. I am concerned for me and my sisters' reputation about how this looks on the outside when it happens we have more guys over than girls even though our whole policy is to have clean fun with all of our friends no matter their gender. I've approached my sisters about this and one of them believes I am putting a negative outlook on our "hard earned" policy to make our friends feel welcome. How do I approach her and let her know that is not what I am trying to do, but I am just being cautious about having more guys over than girls? None of our friends are threatening, but I am concerned about how our open door policy has changed and what I should do about it.

Jay's ANSWER...

A: There is a famous quote that comes to mind. “Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.” I would have to side with your sister. You are creating a problem that exists only in your own mind. You should just let that story in your head go, and enjoy your games. I hope this helps.

Jay

I Want My Friend to Find Her Own Place

How do I nicely tell my friend that she needs to find another place to live? 

Dear Jay,

My friend as been staying with me for 2 months rent free. Originally she was going to stay with a mutual friend for a couple weeks and with me for a couple weeks. Long story short, the mutual friend got a roommate (one that pays) right before she came out, so she decided not to stay with him at all. She's  been here 2 months, and after me telling her last month she needs to be out the beginning of this month, she didn't start looking for a job or another place to stay until a week before she was supposed to be out.  Now she wants to stay until she gets 1-2 paychecks under her belt. I wasn’t prepared to have her stay 2 months originally, I was just being nice and accommodating.  It has been an inconvenience. I don’t want to give her more time.  Am I wrong for wanting her out, or putting her out without a place to go?

Jay's ANSWER...

A:  I’m afraid you have created this situation by not being clear from the start. You are certainly not wrong for wanting her to find accommodations elsewhere. You might suggest that if she continues to stay she will need to start paying you. Make a payment plan if necessary, but make a plan and stick to it. Don’t put her out with nowhere to go. Your friend needs compassion. She is clearly going through a difficult time. This is when friendship means the most. Be grateful for the opportunity to be of help. You may need a leg up one day yourself. I hope this helps.
 
My best,

Jay

My Sister's Boyfriend Needs to Pay His Way

How do I break it to my sister that her boyfriend needs to start paying rent? 

Dear Jay,

How do I tell my sister that her boyfriend needs to stop sleeping over every night or he needs to start paying rent?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: You might try something like this: First of all, have a private conversation with your sister. “I think it’s only fair that since Joe is now living here, that you and he should pay your share of the costs here. The monthly shared costs are $450. I am asking you for your share of $300. Can you afford this?” Depending on your situation you can adjust the numbers and percentages, but keep it simple. If they can’t afford to pay their fair share, will you need to find another roommate who can? If so, let her know that. Remember this is your residence (I am assuming your sister is sharing in the expenses, but you are responsible for the residence, whether rented or owned). You may get some pushback here, but unless you are in a position and choose to support them, you need to put your foot down. I hope this helps.
 
My best,

Jay

Freeloading Friend Overstays Her Welcome

Even though I told my friend she could stay as long as she needed to, how do I tell her I've changed my mind and she needs to leave? 

Dear Jay,

How do I tell a friend that I told could stay with me, rent free, that she has worn out her welcome and needs to leave?

I told a girlfriend that she could stay with me as long as she needed because she needed a place to stay, rent free. When she came I didn't realize she was going to be staying so long. I am huge on having my personal space and she is always on the couch watching TV.  I don't watch TV. I’d rather read or listen to music. Since I told her she could stay as long as she wanted, how do I tell her now it’s not working out?

Jay's ANSWER...

A: All good things must come to an end. Surely, your friend did not expect this arrangement to last forever. So, the time has come for you to explain that you need your space and privacy back. As a courtesy, you may want to consider giving her two to four weeks notice, so she has time to make other living arrangements. I hope this helps.
 
My best,

Jay 

Unenjoyable family visits

How can I convince my boyfriend that even though it's not very pleasant that we should stay with my family for at least two nights to be polite? 

Dear Jay,

What is the etiquette for a serious but not engaged couple when visiting each others' families? I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend's family in short, enjoyable doses, since they live nearby. We see my parents a few times a year and must travel 3 hours to see them...resulting in longer, very not-enjoyable visits. I won't deny that visiting my family is not fun for reasons beyond my control, mostly to do with the personalities of my family members. I sympathize with my boyfriend's dislike of our visits and emphasize how much I appreciate his presence. However, I feel a duty to continue to visit a few times a year, and when I do visit I am very concerned about staying long enough so as not to be rude to my parents. That translates roughly to a two-night stay. We average two visits a year, outside of family emergencies. 

Starting with this Thanksgiving, my boyfriend has put up a lot of resistance to staying a second night. How should I handle this situation? Unfortunately the discussion is not going well. Despite there being solid reasons for staying the second night, mostly for additional family time and to avoid driving home in the dark, he is adamant that staying a second night is illogical. He is going so far as to claim he does not like "staying nights" at other places, which very much contradicts with his actions on other trips.

Jay's ANSWER...

A: Thanks for asking this delicate, and not at all uncommon, question. Without going into a long discussion, I would advise that you consider leaving your boyfriend behind when you visit your parents unless you can keep your visits shorter. You have no duty to visit anyone, not even your parents. However, if you feel you need to visit them, go ahead, but don’t feel your boyfriend needs to join you. If your parents want to know why he isn’t along for the trip, be honest and let them know how these visits make you both feel. Some situations are irreparable, and the sooner an honest eye is put on things, they may be able to change. However, if there comes a time when you must visit your parents due to some extenuating circumstance and require your boyfriend’s support, then he should accommodate your needs and join you. I hope this helps. Have a very Merry Christmas!.
 
My best,

Jay 

Stinky, rude guests

How do I politely tell my B.O. infested, rude guests that they can't sleep on my new couch? 

Dear Jay,

I have a guest that comes over and he usually brings his friend; however, they both have very offensive body odor and poor overall hygiene. When they visit, they don't show any gratitude, leave dirty fingerprint smudges on the walls, don't flush the toilet, always complain if I choose not to cook while they are over, and I constantly have to clean up after them! I'm extremely fed up! We recently bought a new couch, and I don't want it to get stained or to smell of B.O. since they are extremely careless. My question is, how can I politely make it known to them that I don't want them to sleep on the couch. Since they usually stay overnight, the only option is the floor. We have no guest room. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Jay's ANSWER...

A: This is not the time for a ‘polite’ discussion. These pigs (pardon my bluntness) need to learn to be respectful of you, but more importantly, of themselves. You will have to explain in an unemotional way that they are no longer welcome to come over unless they clean themselves up, wear clean clothes, and be respectful of your house. You must remember that your home is your castle. You need to establish house rules and honor them. In the end, they will thank you. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Roommate and Boyfriend Cause Annoying Noises

What can I tell my roommate to get her and her boyfriend to stop causing so much noise and disturbance? 

Dear Jay,

My roommate who stays in the next room started bringing her boyfriend and making noises. The wall between our room is thin, and I talked to her about this. After our conversation, they seemed to try not to make noises, but still I could here them and giggling chatting (his voice is low pitched so it vibrates) and they are still bugging me a huge amount.

I don't think I can say I want her to stop bringing her boyfriend here, but I am really stressed out by this. I can’t even not do my work properly these days at home, but I don't know what to do further on this matter.
We are both tenants of this house and college students (but she is taking a break this term). The landlord lives here as well in the master bedroom, but she's not home during weekdays because of her family business.
Please advise me how to improve this situation. I am not sure what I can demand of her.


Jay's ANSWER...

A: Since your initial complaint met with some success, I would suggest you try that approach again. Perhaps there are certain hours you could agree to. For example, keep the noise down after 10pm, or something like that. Most people don’t want to disturb others, so you should find some relief here. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Banned from the boyfriend's place

Can my boyfriend's mother really forbid me from seeing him at his place just because she pays the rent? 

Dear Jay,

My boyfriend's mother rents the four bedroom two bathroom house they live in, and she doesn't like me. My boyfriend doesn't pay rent, but contributes to the electricity and food bills. Because she doesn’t like me, his mother has forbidden me from the property. My question is if I have never caused any like of trouble and am limited to his bedroom and the main restroom? Can she really tell me I'm not allowed in his room???


Jay's ANSWER...

A: Technically, your boyfriend’s mother calls the shots because she pays the rent. If she dislikes you that much, you’ll have to make arrangements to see your boyfriend elsewhere. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

No money for a party

How much should I contribute to my fiancé's birthday party when I am trying to budget for our wedding? 

Dear Jay,

I've been with my fiance for nearly five years, and we are getting married next summer. I've been the primary earner since we've been together (he's a grad student and will start working full time after he graduates next year). I am very diligent about saving money for our wedding, so I don't have much spare money this year.

Recently, he decided that he'd like to have a birthday party and host it at our house. I am not a fan of hosting parties, but I want him to have a nice birthday. How much should I contribute towards hosting costs, since I make more than he does? I don't want to be cheap, but I have a very strict budget.


Jay's ANSWER...

A: One choice you have is to contribute exactly what your budget would allow, and not a penny more. He will simply have to make up the cost from his own pocket. Another choice is to offer to cover the entire cost of the whole party as a way of saying thank you that he is a part of your life. You will likely settle somewhere between the two. The main thing is to loosen up a bit and follow your heart, and not your wallet. All things in moderation, including moderation itself. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Get the Law Involved

Can I remove my ex-boyfriend's left behind items from my house or donate them to Good Will if he doesn't remove them? 

Dear Jay,

I asked my boyfriend to move out in March because we just were arguing a lot. He left behind quite a few things. I boxed them up, and they are stored in my storage shed and in my backyard. I asked him in May to have his items removed by the end of June. It is now September and his items are still here. We text each other at times, and when I bring it up he keeps saying he is going to get them. Then he gets mad if I suggest he should pay me to keep them stored or pay a storage place and remove them from my property. Now that its become push and shove, I went to a local storage place to price storage for his things. I plan to send it with a letter. 

Is it alright for me to send the first email requesting him to remove the items along with a letter stating if its not done in two months I will be donating all of it to the Good Will?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: This question requires legal advice, which I do not offer. Abandoned property needs to be handled in a particular manner to avoid any liability on your part. I would begin by calling the police, or perhaps a lawyer friend. They should be able to help you with your decision. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Asking to Use a Family Property to Host Guests

How do I ask nicely to use a property that is in my extended family, but my immediate family no longer has a stake in for guests? 

Dear Jay,

Our family shares a large piece of recreational property. My father used to have an interest in the land, but has since sold it. Family gatherings are typically held on the property, so I am there regularly over the year and have been going since before I was born. At this point in life though my technical designation is as a guest.

I would like to bring a small group of friends (3-4) to the property for a weekend (arrive Friday evening-leave Sunday afternoon), and I was wondering how to best approach a family member to see if they would be willing to allow use of the property for a weekend.

I understand this, at its core, is rude and an imposition, but I am very connected with the place and it's the only venue I can think of to host friends, many of whom have invited me to their properties and events. I have not done this before nor do I intend to make it a recurring event.

What is the best way to go about asking to minimize awkwardness and allow for the family member to politely decline without losing face? I intend to leave cash for utilities/cleaning/etc.


Jay's ANSWER...

A: Do not look at this request as rude or an imposition. Just because your father is no longer involved does not mean you cannot ask to use the property, as you state, as a guest. If you offer to help defray expenses, you will likely receive a warm reception. I would ask the person in the family who is ‘in charge’ of the property. He or she will probably know when it is booked, what the costs are, etc. You might inquire if there is a daily rate for the privilege of using the place in addition to your cash offer. If they allow you to use the property, be sure to leave it in better shape than you found it. This will help ensure future usage privileges. Good luck! I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

House Rules for Picky Guests

Should I be expected to accommodate my boyfriend's picky parents in my apartment? 

Dear Jay,

My boyfriend’s parents are retired and drive up to see us out of state. They are never that clear on how long they are staying. We live in a major city,1 bedroom 1 bathroom 800 square ft. apartment. Once they stayed with us for 2 weeks. I try to be as accommodating as possible. I work all day and come home to cook them dinner.  His mother is really picky about what she eats and not because of dietary restrictions, but because simply she does not like it. 


My boyfriend and I have gotten in fights about this and think I'm being unreasonable. Is it just me or is this incredibly rude? My mother (only) had visited me once, but only stayed a few days and is not picky about what she eats or does. Other relatives of mine that come to town always get a hotel room. If we had a spare bedroom and bathroom it might be different. Is it unreasonable to ask his parents to get a hotel room next time they want to visit, or at least half of their visit?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: What is important here is that you and your boyfriend establish some house rules. If you feel displaced in any way because of his parents’ visits, you must let him know, and try to reach an agreement you can both live with. This should not be a big deal. If it is, your life moving forward is guaranteed to be filled with difficult situations. If his mother is a picky eater, cook something you know she’ll like. Your house is your castle. Get started on the right foot with clear and reasonable house rules, which everyone will adhere to. What those rules are is completely the choice of you and your boyfriend - no on else. Learning to communicate with one another effectively will help ensure a rosy future. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Who cooks?

When we stay with our parents, who should do the cooking for everyone? 

Dear Jay,

When visiting parents, should they be expected to cook for you?

My girlfriend's parents live 3 hours away from us in VA Beach.  Her father was a cook in the Navy.  He always makes meals at his house when we visit -  even making breakfast before we are ready to get out of bed, which we then have to get up to eat.  Her parents stay home and don't go out much.  They make dinner, too, which one time we had to come back from the beach early to eat.

My parents live in TX, so it is a full day of traveling on a flight, plus a 2.5 hour drive after landing to get there.  They usually don't have a meal prepared when we get there as they have picked us up from the airport.  And now we have found a Mexican restaurant on the way that we all like.  They also live in a small town with essentially no restaurants. The chain restaurants are 45 mins away.  My parents do a lot of activities at their church.  They also have 4 donkeys at their place on 10 acres.  They are not in the best of health, though, and can no longer travel.  They don't really do the cooking or plan meals for us.  Since I like for my girlfriend to do the cooking for me here, I liked for her to do the cooking there for me as well, so she made all of us some meals while there.

But she gets mad and thinks my parents, as "hosts" should do the cooking like her parents.  She says that is what you do when you have visitors.

Is that right or wrong?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: When visiting parents, one should know very well the house rules and routines. If there are none, expect a bit of chaos. Once there, if you want to skip a meal here and there and can let the “chef” know well in advance, then any complaints of being inconvenienced by one’s hosts can be avoided. As your parents are less active, they may appreciate the help very much. As their child, it might be a kind thing to cook a meal for them yourself. Your wife would appreciate that, too. Both sets of parents are very different. To expect one set to behave as the other is living in a fantasy world. Frankly, I think you should be grateful to have two sets of parents to visit, no matter who does the cooking. Always choose to take the high road. Be kind and grateful whenever possible. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Helping a Friend at My Own Expense

Should I expect my friend to help pay my expenses when I helped her pack for her upcoming move? 

Dear Jay,

What are my financial obligations when visiting a friend to help them pack their home after it has been sold?  When she called she sounded desperate and I immediately booked my flights.  My cost was $482 for round trip, and I paid for my own meal on the two occasions we went out to dinner ($13 and $9) at local chain restaurants.  We also had dinner at the home of one of her friends and we split the cost of the gift we brought.  I did not discuss my flight arrangements before I booked, so she paid $50 each way for my transportation to and from her home because she was not comfortable driving by herself in the dark.  She feels I should have paid one way and that I should have split the cost of groceries etc.  I was there for 8 days and we packed for 8 to 10 hours a day.


Jay's ANSWER...

A: This questions revolves around expectations. Expectations are like assumptions. Avoid them at all costs. To be fair, I would have expected you to pay your airfare and that’s it. The fact that you chose to carry on for 8 days is your own doing. We all make choices. We all live with the consequences. I question whether any discussion concerning money ever occurred. On the other hand, if your friend was strapped and you knew it, if you could afford to, help her out. 

Friendship is not something to fritter away for $1000. On one hand, you were disappointed that she did not behave more gratefully; on the other hand, perhaps she needs some compassion. Moving is one of the most stressful events of our lives. Although she is a friend, she may have some fears and struggles about which you are unaware. Let it go and chalk it up as another life lesson learned.  I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Etiquette's Purpose

Do we really need etiquette in our modern world? 

Dear Jay,

I am very curious to know, as you answer so many of these questions, do you believe that social etiquette is necessary? I personally do not. I believe it is a part of a stupid never ending game in which people lie, cheat, and loot. As an example I have seen that many people do not appreciate directness, preferring what, I don't know. I believe that if you wish to communicate it should be directly, without paying attention to how the person may feel.


Jay's ANSWER...

A: I do believe that social etiquette is necessary. What I hear in your question is a great deal of anger. I do believe in being direct, but not rude. Learning to communicate in a respectful way has helped me to form deeper and more meaningful relationships with my friends, family, and business associates. Developing such skills can require professional help. I hope you can find a way to release your anger. Perhaps then you may begin to shift your perspective.

 My best,

Jay 

An Expensive Visit

How do I tell my parents that they aren't welcome to come and visit me again because they didn't offer to pay for anything? 

Dear Jay,

I am 25 years old and share an apartment with two other women, however most nights I stay at my boyfriend's place since he lives in his own three bedroom house. My out-of-state parents came to visit this weekend and my boyfriend offered one of his fully-furnished guestrooms at his house for them to stay at since there isn't room in my apartment and so they wouldn't have to pay for a hotel. 

A few weeks before coming, my mom asked what they could do for us in exchange for my boyfriends hospitality. She offered to pay for the food over the weekend, specifically stating that my parents would buy groceries and pay when we went out to eat. My parents also made a full weekend of plans, including several expensive tourist activities that my boyfriend and I don't really enjoy, but we figured we would come anyways just to spend time with my parents. 

The first night they arrived, my dad chose a restaurant for us all to go to. When the bill came, no one picked it up because I assumed my parents would pay like they had said before. Finally it felt awkward, so I asked my dad "would you like us to pay for our part of the meal?" My dad agreed as if that was the obvious answer and started talking about how expensive this trip was for them already. On our way home I stopped at the grocery store to allow my mom to buy the groceries as she had offered. She proceeded to pick only expensive, organic products and part way through said to me "Im willing to pay some of this if we can get this also," and placed more expensive food in the cart. Confused, I reminded her that I thought she was paying for all of it. She looked at the ground and said, "Well I guess I can put it on my credit card, its just that we really don't have extra money right now." 

This made me feel like a guilt trip and angered me inside also because they are currently planning a huge dream vacation for the two of them to Israel in just a few months, so I know they have money. I'm in an entry-level job, paying rent and student loans while my dad's job by itself pays him over twice what I make. For the rest of the weekend, my boyfriend and I housed my parents, shuttled them all over the city to their planned tourist activities, paid our own way into all the activities, paid for all our own meals, cooked all my parents meals at home, did the dishes and cleaning without help and even paid the train fares for all four of us while my parents didn't offer a dime. I feel like my parents should have offered to pay for most everything since it was all activities they requested we go to, and the transportation was fairly costly to me, or at the very least kept their offer to pay for food. I feel like I do not want them to visit again, but I don't want to be rude or break my family relationship. What should I do?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: How disappointing for you! My sense is that your Mom did not discuss this whole plan with your Dad, and hoped it would unfold according to her plan anyway. It backfired on her and she derailed completely. My advice is to have a calm private chat with your Mom and explain to her how this whole experience has left you feeling. I doubt this was her intention. Family relationships are important to maintain, but not to the detriment of your own mental health and happiness. If the occasion arises again for such a visit, be sure both parents understand the arrangements. Make sure you take responsibility for making sure that happens. Otherwise you can expect more of the same. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Roommate or Guest? 

Should I be considered a roommate or a guest in my current living situation because I don't feel like either? 

Dear Jay,

What is the proper term that is used for my position? Originally I was considered a "roommate." I planned on moving out of my home into my friend's home due to the lease ending on my old home. My friend offered a room in her house for me to live in for the remainder of my school semester. She owns the home and no "legal" documents were signed on my end. An oral agreement was made that my form of rent was in the form of household chores, groceries and respect for her space. I understood this to be "roommate" status and that I would contribute financially if my presence made an impact on the utilities. 

When I started the moving process she told me she was going out of town but would not tell me an exact date even though we agreed on a specific week that the move would occurred prior to her out of town engagement. This caused issues about when I could move in and the agreement we made. 

Then when I started to move in she said I could not move in with my dog because it was too much change for her. She was aware I had a dog but didn't say the dog was not welcome. I was told she was supporting me and that her and her husband were financially stressed already and did not want to be responsible for a dog as well. I told her I would be responsible for the dog and had a plan set up for the dog to be at a day care outside of the home during the day. The dog would not be unsupervised at all and not left alone. I also said I would pay my fair share if finances were the issue. She said I was only a guest and would be treated as such. 

I am confused I thought I was a roommate but I am told I am a guest. I am not allowed to use her food, laundry, or anything else that guests are allowed. I have to fend for myself. Am I a guest or am I a roommate? I have no Idea how I should take this information. I was offered this place willing to pay like a tenant but my money is refused, my dog is not allowed and I don't feel like a welcomed guest.


Jay's ANSWER...

A: You are neither roommate nor guest sadly. It appears that you are basically an inconvenience. I think you need to have a frank discussion about these arrangements. You need to reach some sort of clear understanding about this situation. If this is not possible, perhaps you need to find somewhere else to live. That choice is yours, not hers. You need to take responsibility for your housing. Clear communication will lead to clear expectations. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Proper thank you after a meal

Should I expect a thank you after I invited my friends for lunch? 

Dear Jay,

I'm an Arabian. I had  invited my friends from Europe to my house  for a lunch and they were happy with that. We are used to get a feedback on the second day after the lunch. Is that applied in Europe ?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: I am assuming you are referring to a thank you note or thank you letter, as the Brits refer to it. Not everyone practices proper etiquette. Europeans are not exempted from writing thank you notes. So, if you go to anyone’s house for a meal, a thank you note, or at the very least a phone call the following day, is appropriate. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Imposing Friends

What do I do when my friends aren't very thoughtful when it comes to parties that I host? 

Dear Jay,

At the end of the year it is common for all of my friends and myself to have a get together and exchange gag holiday gifts.  We hadn't decided on who was hosting this event as of yet and one of my friends volunteered my home.

Rather than be rude and decline I agreed and set the date.  The friend that had volunteered my home then RSVPed late saying she could not attend, so as result I made sure to move the date so she could attend.  Once the party day arrived, she showed up late and empty handed.  Not an appetizer or bottle of wine to share.  I felt this was rude since she volunteered my home in the first place, but decided to overlook it.

Then a couple of months later I offered my home (which is a 600 sq ft downtown apartment) for close friends to gather prior to going out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  The friend in the first story above then proceeded to invite four people I did not know without asking me first.  Then said she couldn’t attend, but her friends would be there for me to entertain.  A day later a different friend invited another four people into my home without asking permission as well.  I had to go back to her and say I simply did not have the space to entertain this many people.  

Once the day of the party arrived no one showed up with any drinks of their own even though the invite as specifically said byob.
With these two scenarios said, I had already planned a party in May and sent out the invitation and the guest list.  
After these first two transgressions I am inclined to cancel the party.  Do you think this is too over the top?  Or should I go through with this party knowing that my so called guests do not know or understand standard party etiquette?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: If you go through with the party without having a chat with your friends first, you will be little more than a generous enabler. You do not have to allow intruders into your home - uninvited guests are intruders. People who invite people to other people’s parties without permission are bullies and fools. Such ‘friends' need to be shown either the exit door or some good manners. You must put down your foot and explain to these friends of yours that your apartment does not have a revolving door, and a BYOB party means just that. If they don’t get it, and you still want their company, prepare to cover the cost of everything, and be prepared for surprise uninvited guests. The choice is yours. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Party Pushers and Crappy Friends

Do you think it is okay for my boyfriend's friends to plan a party at my house, and then be spiteful towards me when I don't agree with their plan? 

Dear Jay,

My boyfriend's friends tried to force me to have a party at my house, and chose a date on their own.  I replied that it is too hot in my area at the time they picked and they were offended.  I went with my boyfriend to a party at their house and they got mean and rude about it with me and invited everyone at their party over to my house for a party on the date they had chosen.  Trying to be polite again, I said that it was just too hot to have a BBQ or have anyone outdoors; which it is, and said I would have them out at another time.  They proceeded as planned, and then a couple days before we would have had the party, they called and said they couldn't come.  

I am completely offended that they would force me to have a party and then be mean to me when I  didn't want to have it when they did.  My boyfriend only supported me in that he told his friends that I didn't want to have a party, but completely disagrees that his friends are rude and intrusive, leaving me wondering if there is something wrong with me?  In my mind, I think "WHO DOES THIS?"  No one in my far reaching circle of friends would EVER do this to me, how can they all think that this is OK?  What do you think?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: I think you are being treated as disrespectfully as possible. If your boyfriend cannot reach common ground with you on something like this, you need to have a discussion with him and explain how his actions make you feel. If he is not willing to change his ways, this may be an indicator that you need to reevaluate your social circles - entirely! I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Drunk and Disorderly Conduct

How do I let my "friend" know his drunk behavior makes him unwelcome in my apartment? 

Dear Jay,

I recently moved into a small studio apartment on my own. I enjoy having friends over and have had no problems with any of my guests. I welcome friends dropping by, making themselves at home, and sleeping over when they've had too much to drink, etc... 

However, there is one 'friend' in my circle whom I feel acts very poorly when he is over. As a student in a small apartment I have made most, if not all, the furniture in my apartment (it is a hobby). One evening this same 'friend' came over, had too much to drink, and broke my sofa in half; I did not mention it to him and fixed it the next day. A few nights ago this same 'friend' came over, had a few drinks, and began acting rudely. He found and blew and air horn I had hidden AT 2 AM in a very quiet apartment block. He continuously rocked back and forth on the very sofa he broke not 2 weeks before, and refused to stop when I politely asked him to. He broke a lamp that I had set up next to the sofa and did not even move to so much as pick it up when it fell. Sober he is fine, but he is loud and obnoxious in my small space, and as my other friend said "he is a jerk simply to gain a reaction from people." 

How do I tell him, and the friends he usually tags along with, that he is not welcome in my apartment so long as he continues to behave in what I feel is a very disrespectful manner?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: People can change when they drink, some more than others. Your apartment is your domain and as such needs to be respected by your friends. If you do not stand up to them and their bad behavior, the message they are getting is that you don’t care. In other words, you don’t respect it yourself. This is not your intention, so you need to speak with your friend when he is sober and outline exactly what you have written here. Lay down the law and explain that he is no longer welcome if he insists on drinking. You may feel like a heel, but it’s better that he hear this from you now, than make a graver mistake down the line - which is where he is headed!
I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Setting firm guidelines 

Am I being unreasonable with my expectations for my friend who is staying at my apartment? 

Dear Jay,

I have a friend that used to be my roommate. He had to move out due to financial problems. He currently lives 45 mins away with his parents. I tell my friends that they are welcome to come over and hang out. Recently due to bad weather my friend has been crashing in my spare bedroom on some nights as I live closer to his work than he does. I let him do some side work fixing cars out my garage a few times a month. My issue is that he has been bringing a girl over without my knowledge and hanging out with her. I confronted him about it and told him this is not his place and that he doesn't need to be bring people over here without my knowledge.

He apologized and started to ask, but I told him no the last few times due to the fact that he did that without my knowledge in the first place. He recently asked me if the the person could come over when we were hanging out the night before with friends. I told him sure. Later on he left the group and took her inside and just sat there hanging out. After a few hours I told him he needed to get outside and hang out with the group and that he is a guest in the house. Recently, he asked if he could stay over in the spare room again and I said sure. I got a text from him asking if I could leave my house unlocked in case he got in later. I told him that if he wanted to stay in the spare room he needed to be here by 10.

I don't mind my friends coming over and hanging out. I just expect them to respect my place and respect that they are a guest here. I have told them that as well.

Is my friend acting unreasonable or I am being reasonable in the things that I'm doing?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: You are handling this very well. Be firm and make sure you are consistent in following through with consequences when your house rules are disrespected. Your friend needs to understand that in your house, your rules apply. The same would apply to his house, too, unless he has issues with self respect. Growing up can be difficult especially when one’s parents forget to set a good example. I doubt his intention is to be a total buffoon, but since he is behaving like one, you are well within your rights to be sure it happens elsewhere! I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Loud, Mooching Relatives

What do I do when my relatives don't get that they are invading my privacy? 

Dear Jay,

I am in my late 30's single and living alone in a one room apartment.
Right now, I live in South Korea and I am doing my Master Study, working at the same time.
My concern is my brother in law. Every weekend, my sister and brother in law come to Seoul. They don't have a place to stay here except my place. I am a very private person. My sister's husband is an American and as far as I know western culture is totally different than Asian culture. I've been in this stressful situation for 3 years. I just couldn't tell them because I'm afraid that I might hurt their feelings. But today, I was really irritated. I haven't had a good night sleep since they came in this weekend. 

We were sleeping together in my room with another sister of mine, who moved in 5 months ago. It seems like hell for me, because they're invading my privacy. My sister's husband snores a lot. I told my my sister many times to go out and find place for her husband because I can't accommodate him. I have told them to rent an apartment when they visit, but they said that they are saving. I'm really upset!  So today, I couldn't hold my temper. When her husband said that he would likely to come early next weekend like Thursday. I said, "You better find a place for you to stay because I am exhausted!" He asked, "Am I not welcome in my own sister's house?" Please. Tell me what to do. Thanks!


Jay's ANSWER...

A: Some people need to have things explained to them over and over again before they understand it. It sounds like your sister and her husband fit into that category. The good news is that the husband figured out the answer. Now, all you need to do is to agree with him by saying yes to his question. The real crux of the matter is that they are not showing any respect for your privacy despite you telling them repeatedly. By your relenting in the past, you have enabled them into thinking this endless mooching is acceptable. My advice is to explain to them that you regret that you were not clear enough about expressing your feelings in the past, but overnight visits are no long OK. They must learn respect. Otherwise they are just being bullies, which is unacceptable at any time! Stick to your guns this time! I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Tired Caregiver Wants Peace and Quiet

How do I respectfully tell people that I don't want houseguests because I like my space?  

Dear Jay,

I am in my early 30's and am a full time sole carer for my father. I have a lot of responsibility, from caring duties, medical appointments, paying the bills, admin, shopping to cooking, cleaning and everything else we need to do to keep up in this fast paced world.I have shaped my life accordingly now and hardly get the time or energy to go out with my friends. The little time I get in between the day, I like to relax or spend time on my own to recuperate as I'm always very tired. I am very house proud and like to keep the house very clean. I may be a bit too clean to be honest.

Since I have taken over looking after the house I have never been big on guests. However, I don't really like to have guests over at all now, if can help it - mainly because I don't have the time or energy to host, prepare or clean up after them. I don't have much family. Those that I do are no help whatsoever with my caring duties or to give me a break, so I resent them for that, too. The problem is that once in a while my extended family likes to come over to the house after months or years sometimes, just to be nosy I presume. Am I right in not wanting them to come over and disrupt my routine? Some of them have children that run through the whole house and the parents don't control them. How can I politely stop them from coming as they get offended very easily and insistent on other days if I tell then I'm busy on a particular day? Help!


Jay's ANSWER...

A: You lead a very demanding lifestyle and respecting your boundaries is important to you. You must lay down some ground rules for people who would like to visit. If someone just shows up unannounced (a pet peeve of mine), simply tell them that this is not a good time to visit. If they call and want to come by, just be honest. There is no reason for this to be a big issue. Respecting one another is a basic responsibility we all share. We must begin with having respect for ourselves. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Mixed Invitation Messages

How do I respond to the changing invitation status from the woman for whom I provide care? 

Dear Jay,

I'm a caregiver for a 91 year old lady for a few years now. She invites me to holiday dinners, because I don't have any family. Starting 2 months ago she asked me if I was coming to Christmas dinner and I said yes. Today she mentioned that the Christmas plans got mixed up and she was sorry, but she had to un-invite me because she was going to her son's house. She lives in a very posh senior apartment complex, and we usually have dinner there because the food is excellent.

I must admit I was hurt. I heard her on the phone talking to her son and the plans changed again, and he wants to have dinner where my client lives so she re-invited me. I said no that I already made plans.

Was I wrong to be hurt? I found it very rude, and then to ask me to come again. My client is not senile at all, and I don't understand why she uninvited me when her son and his wife live in town?

Thank You,
Kelly


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Kelly,
You work for a bully. I do, too. This behavior has likely been with her more or less her whole life. I understand why you would feel hurt - you'd just been snubbed - who likes that? However, when working with the elderly we need to summon up all of our compassion - not only for them, but also for us. Family dynamics are complicated. You will never know what the dynamics have been over the years in her family. Don't take any of this personally. I'm afraid it's too late to change her ways. Caregivers are very special people. Remember she is lucky to have you in her life. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay

Questionable Party Weather

How do I alert my party guests about bad weather and party cancellations? 

Dear Jay,

I'm helping my boss host a Holiday party for our department on Saturday at her house.  The weather is going to be questionable and we would like to send the guest some words on "please use your best judgement about the weather." Should we have them call us beforehand?  What is the best way to handle questionable weather.  Our guests' safety is most important, but weather may or may not be a factor.


Jay's ANSWER...

A: You and the host should decide in the morning whether to hold the event or not. Giving your guests tasks or asking them to make arbitrary judgement calls is unfair. It's your party. If you need to have a rain date, so be it, but you make the decision and any required phone calls. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Thanksgiving celebration permission

Should my roommates ask for my permission to host a Thanksgiving celebration since I won't be there? 

Dear Jay,

I have roommates living with me in my home. They want to celebrate Thanksgiving on their own and did not ask me if it is okay with me because I will be with my family for the holiday. Most of their cooking is done with all of my dishes and my stove barely works now, and I'm nervous that their cooking will not help my stove last longer. Now mind you, this is my first home and I don't think it's appropriate to host a holiday in someone else's home without making sure it's okay with them first. How do I handle this, and am I right for thinking that it is rude to celebrate a holiday without asking for the woman of the household's permission first or no?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: I agree with you. Of course they should have asked your permission. If you are uncomfortable with their request, you must say so and explain why. What was the 'deal' when they moved in? Has anything changed? Do not let the stove's longevity enter into this equation. They will obviously be using the stove throughout the year. If it's unsafe, you should replace it. That's when the rental income is helpful. If at all possible, take the high road and tell them you hope they enjoy a joyous celebration. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Shut the Door

How do I keep my family out of my messy spare bedroom? 

Dear Jay,

I'm having a Thanksgiving Day dinner party very soon and I have most of my family coming over. I live in a two bedroom apartment; I use one room as storage and the other as my room. I plan on keeping the doors to the bedrooms shut since I don't want anyone in there, but my family members have a tendency to still open the door and look in. How can I politely tell them (or even put up a sign on the doors) to stay out of the rooms? I don't want to upset anybody, but it is my apartment and the storage room is a bit messy. It would be embarrassing for someone to go in there. Help, please?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: I always advise people who live in small apartments and enjoy entertaining to keep the apartment in 'show shape' all the time. Since that seems to be a different pattern than yours, a sign saying "Keep Out" or "Danger Zone" might work. Your better option might be to simply let guests know that if the door is closed, please do not open it. Guests need to be respectful of your private space. Another option might be to just lock the doors. Remember that the state of one's abode reflects the state of one's inner self. Please consider tidying things up - you'll feel much, much better. I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Confirming Plans

Who should confirm the plans - the host or the person invited? 

Dear Jay,

When planning an informal dinner party with close friends or family, who confirms the plans? Let's say the invitation is made by the hosts two weeks out, and then you don't hear from them? I really don't want to call and ask if we're still invited, and definitely won't just show up…


Jay's ANSWER...

A: It is the job of the host to confirm plans. Not everyone knows that, however. Therefore, I would suggest you phone and ask to confirm the time of the dinner party. "I'm just calling to make sure I wrote down the right time for dinner. I have 6:30 written down. Is that right?" I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Overstaying a welcome

Do I let the comments from my friend's older sister hurt my feelings? 

Dear Jay,

Recently, I stayed for two weeks at my friend's older sister's house. It was two good weeks for us, and I did not know there were hidden bad feelings towards me from my friend's older sister. I have my own house, but I let my auntie and cousins stay there due to a family conflict. My mom came back from another country and wanted me to stay at my own house. I packed all my things from my friend's house and transferred it all over back to my house. 

To my surprise, my friend's older sister badmouthed me in a text message saying that I have "some nerve" for staying two weeks in her older sister's house and that I dragged her sister down with my personal problems. Can you please advise me on how I can handle those bad messages and how can I make up with her older sister knowing her feelings about me?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: My advice is to ignore (pay no attention to) the rude text messages. The relationship you have with the older sister (your host) is none of the other sister's business. If there is an issue between you and the older sister, sit down with her and discuss it. If the problem is just in the head of the other sister (who texted you), ask her older sister to speak with her about this. There is no reason for this to become explosive. I trust you have no plans to repeat this ever again! I hope this helps.

 My best,

Jay 

Customs for International Travelers

Should I expect my international friends to pick me up and let me stay with them when I visit?  

Dear Jay,

If I travel to another country, should I ask friends for house accommodation and ask them to pick me up at the airport? Or should I go straight to a hotel and pay for the taxi?

How much does this custom differ in Latin, American, and European cultures?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: No matter what country you are traveling to, I advise to never ask to be lodged by a friend. If they can and want to provide you with accommodations, they will offer. I have personally found no cultural differences in this quandary. A good rule to follow is to allow others to make the offer. If it is not forthcoming, there could be a number of reasons, none of which really matter to you. People's personal lives and the dynamics going on are private matters. Respect other's boundaries as you would hope your boundaries would be respected. I hope this helps.

Kindest regards,

Jay

No Guestroom 

Is it rude that we don't want a guest room in our home? 

Dear Jay,

My boyfriend and I recently built a house together and while it has three bedrooms, we do not plan to have a guest room. We are both introverts and need space after entertaining, even with family, so we are not comfortable with people staying the night. My mother told me she feels this is very rude and that the rest of my family feels the same.  She said that no one will want to visit if we are not willing to let them stay the night.  I  think that  as long as we make it clear in advance that  they shouldn't expect to stay it shouldn't be a problem. Who is right?


Jay's ANSWER...

A: You are right. Why don't people just mind their own business? Your house is your castle and your rules are the ones that count. They can do what they wish in their own house, and allow you to do as you please in yours. It's all about the Golden Rule, common sense, and appropriate responsibility. I hope this helps.

Kindest regards,

Jay 

Coping

How can I get my sister to understand?

Dear Jay,

I am a 46 year old single woman awaiting a disability judgement (unable to work) who is going to be homeless by the end of the month.  My sister has graciously offered me a place to stay in her home until my disability issue gets settled.  The problem is that because of the physical pain and mental anguish I have been dealing with I have had some suicidal thoughts.  I am seeking help from my Pastor, friends, and professionals as well, and it is helping but I still have my bad days.

My sister is (and always has been) a control freak and always insists she is right about everything.  I swear she is a lot like the character Marie Barrone on the sit-com Everybody Loves Raymond.  As I am unable to stay in a shelter (I have a dog and I can't sleep in a bed) I am forced to take her up on her offer or end up living in my car.  I have had to sell or give most of my belongings away and she is using this season in my life to criticize me for what she feels were all the mistakes I made in my life that got to where I am now.  And just so you know...I injured my back at work but they are saying it's not workman's comp....there is a law suit pending.

I can't seem to get her to understand that right now I can't take hearing this kind of criticism, and I don't want to be ungracious or appear to be unappreciative of the financial and mental burden I know she will be taking on inviting me to stay in her home (I have said those exact words to her).  I am still a human with rights who deserves respect, but some of the things she is asking of me I cannot physically do and when I told that I physically cannot do what she's asking of me she says I'm "whining and complaining and I'm not even moved in yet"!

Please help!  I don't know what to do in this situation.  I understand that this is her home and her rules but she doesn't understand or believe my inabilities.

For example: she wants me to keep my toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, razor) in my space and carry them into the bathroom when I shower...but the shower is on the 2nd story and because of my spine injury I have extreme trouble climbing stairs and cannot carry anything when I do (I cannot lift more than 10 lbs as well).  She also won't let me store my toiletries anywhere but in my space.

Please advise me...I don't know what to do.


Jay's ANSWER...

You have gotten yourself into quite a mess. Remember that there are always solutions to every problem - including this one. First of all, you must seek professional help at once - go to the ER if you must. Suicidal thoughts are emergencies and need to be handled as such. Your sister, if she is going to be part of your recovery, should accompany you. This is no laughing matter and is not one for your sister to bully you into or out of. If you decide to live with her, you may have to follow her house rules. You seem to have no healthy avenue of communication with her at the moment; and remember, this is a two-way street. You must shoulder your fair share of responsibility.

Seek counselling as well. I would think at least once a week would be essential. Perhaps your sister could even accompany you so that she can learn to understand the facts and so you two can be reading from the same page. There is a branch of Family Services in almost every community, and they will see you for practically no charge. You are in way over your ability to cope with this complex situation. Don't try to figure this out by yourself. Trained professionals can lighten the burden as efficiently and effectively as possible.

I hope this helps,

Jay 

Mother-in-law Sleeping Arrangements

Can we ask a visiting mother-in-law to stay in a hotel?

-Dear Jay,

My soon to be mother-in-law is coming to the state where my fiancée and I live for job training. We rent a one bedroom apartment with two cats. She told my fiancée that good hosts will offer to sleep on the floor and let guests have their bed when visiting from out of town...my fiancée and I both have back problems to begin with, but is it really wrong to expect her to get a hotel for a few days?


Jay's ANSWER...

Your potential mother-in-law could not be more incorrect. You need to be united with your fiancé in your stance on this. This is just the tip of what could be a gigantic and worrisome iceberg. Rented or owned, your home is your castle and your rules are in play. She needs to be told by her son that she needs to stay elsewhere. Has she no respect for your privacy? Were she the one suffering from back pain, it would still be inappropriate for her to impose herself upon you in this manner. If she can't afford to stay in a hotel, perhaps you could billet her with friends. Otherwise she's just being nosy and has stepped way over any acceptable boundaries. She may need compassion, too; lack of respect for others can often indicate a lack of self-respect. Be kind, yet firm. One is never too old to learn.

I hope this helps,

Jay 

Vacation Costs

Should the host mention costs to the guest?

Dear Jay,

Our family goes on vacation every year and my parents have always paid for the house we rent.  In recent years, I have had the financial ability to be able to pay for a portion of the rental, but my parents have always told me no.  During the vacation, however, we are always reminded about the price they have paid for the rental.  Should the hosts be able to mention this to the guests or should this subject not be mentioned?  How should guests handle these awkward situations when brought up?

--Chris


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Chris,

Money is always a tricky topic and should not be discussed unless absolutely necessary. Your father is just being a bully and should not be encouraged. Since he is your father and since this irritates you I would say something like this - if it feels comfortable. "Dad, that is so generous. We always appreciate this kindness. If you would like me to contribute I am more than happy to; otherwise it makes me feel uncomfortable when you mention it." Generally people don't intend to make others feel awkward, so maybe this will register - maybe not right away, but eventually! I know this may sound direct, but it is the truth and you are taking full responsibility for your feelings. If he mentions this to other guests, draw him aside, as you might in any awkward situation with anyone, and explain that talking about money (or whatever the tricky topic might be) is embarrassing and makes everyone feel uneasy and uncomfortable.

I hope this helps,

Jay 

Establishing a pecking order

How to assign rooms to guests?

Jay,

I live in a tourist area.  For the past four years I've hosted two couples to an annual visit to my home which has three spare bedrooms.  This year, more people, mostly single guys, are possibly coming.  The husband of one of the two couples (my closest friend and the absolute senior guest in this deal) has a sister who MAY come for the first time.  The wife of the new couple (good friends from years ago) MAY come along with her husband, who has confirmed his own visit.  The rest are single guys and will be tenting it in the yard.  I've already told the two regular couples about this new couple that MAY come. 

 Is there action I should take now as far as communicating the lodging situation to all parties and establishing a pecking order (e.g. first to confirm and express desire for the last bedroom gets it)?  Or should I just do nothing and let it play out amongst these mature adults, or just give the bedroom to the sister (if she wants it over tenting) in the event the wife of the new couple doesn't show? But what if both these unconfirmed women show and I've not addressed this?  I'm confused.  I don't want to unnecessarily over-complicate this but want to avoid any possible disappointments.  We are all outdoorsy 50-somethings and no strangers to tenting, by the way.

--Dave


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Dave,

Thanks for this excellent question. You must remember that as host of any event - even tenting - you call the shots. Guests worth inviting are not going to quibble about mattresses - or frankly anything else. I advise you to assign rooms and ask that you have confirmation of attendance 3-4 days minimum in advance. You need to know this for any variety of reasons. Past sleeping arrangements need not influence future ones. It is your house. Guests usually like having such details confirmed prior to arriving, so you will be doing both yourself and them a big favour. I hope this helps. Feel free to email if you have any questions.

Kindest regards,

Jay 

Getting to Know Us

Honest is the Best Policy

Dear Jay,

My siblings (4) and I have an aunt that comes to visit from another state for six to eight weeks, two times a year. The first time is June-July and November-January. These dates have changed through the years because of vacation plans (mom, sister, aunt and me went on a couple of two week trips, etc.). She started coming to visit after my grandmother passed away (ten years ago). She is planning on moving here within the next couple of years (she says). She started visiting to "get to know us". She stays two weeks or longer in three homes.  Most of us work and she stays at the house all day watching television, playing games by herself, etc. She does entertain herself. When we come home, there she sits. We have to make dinner arrangements then go to bed and start all over again the next day! One sister lives with me, one sister is married and another recently became a widow. Another sister out of state is married, but my aunt has only visited with them one time and they said they weren't "keeping her". Three of us agree that "she has gotten to know us!" We fret over each visit, and she has made the comment that she's on "vacation" when she visits and that when grandma was alive (aunt has never been married and lived with her mom), they provided meals for visitors. A couple of times, she has taken us out to dinner and last year helped buy groceries at my house. She doesn't ask to visit (she leaves it up to us where and when she makes her visits to each home) and another sister has said that she doesn't have to be entertained. We feel like she does!  Aunt demands that we provide transportation to church, she doesn't ask! She never calls us between visits. We call her when we have a question about a game rule or concern for her during a storm, etc. We don't want to hurt her feelings and just want to know how to remedy this situation. A few days at each home would be nice!


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Mrs. Honeras,

Honesty is the best policy. Unfortunately you and your siblings have been first class enablers in this family dynamic, which has now grown out of control, as such situations are want to do. I recommend that you have a siblings-only family meeting - in personal preferably, but the phone could work too. Come up with a plan that you can all agree to. One of you meets with the aunt - again face-to-face is ideal, and simply explain how you all feel. She is not psychic and probably does not want to be the colossal inconvenience she has become. This discussion should not be confrontational or stressful. State the facts and leave the emotions alone. This situation is not going to fix itself or go away, so it is time for you to take the bull by the horns and make that plan come to light! I hope this helps.

Kindest regards,

Jay

Just Droppin' By

Is it rude to drop by unannounced?

Dear Jay,

Is it rude for someone to just drop by unannounced if you've only met them once or twice, and they are not a close relative?

--Ms. Johnson


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Ms. Johnson,

Frankly, I think it's rude for anyone, close relative or the traveling salesman, to drop by unannounced. I wouldn't have daren't do so with my own mother!

I hope this helps.

Kindest regards,

Jay

Splitting the Cost

Should a married couple count as one?

Dear Jay,

My sister received a phone call from her friend.  My sister is single, and her friend is married.  The friend asked my sister and another friend to take a road trip with her and her husband.  The married friend thinks that they should split things three ways; since her and her husband are paying out of the same account, they count as one. I think since there are four people they should be splitting things four ways. 

What's the proper way to split the costs? Does the married couple count as one, or is her friend trying to take advantage?


Jay's ANSWER...

There is no way two people can count as one. Four people divide the bills by four. That's common sense and the right thing to do. Good Heavens, what were they thinking?!!

I hope this is clear--and helps

Kindest regards,

Jay

Doormat Friend

How do I tell my friend I'm not going to help pay for their birthday party?

Dear Stage of Life,

I've got what feels to be a big embarrassing mess on my hands.  My out of town friend makes a big deal of her birthday every year. She lives in another city and is very "social". For the past several years she has decided to celebrate her birthday to coincide with a social event in the city where I live, organizing dinners & activities where others end up paying the bill (this often happens in many places - she "organizes" and in turn expects to be comped).

This year she has managed to get two other women that I don't know very well involved - one of them is the "host" on the evite and the other owns the penthouse where the party will be held. 

My friend suggested I contact these ladies to "help" (I'm the volunteering type aka fool), and she sent me their numbers. I phoned the host and she indicated that she wasn't doing much other than recommending a caterer and perhaps I should call the owner of the venue who would be doing most of the work. I was later copied by my friend on an email to the host indicating what beverages she thought were needed (case of red, case of white, case of "good" champagne, etc.) and that I could be of help because I have many contacts.  Now, mind you, the co-hosts are extremely well connected affluent women who entertain a great deal in high profile businesses.  

My husband and I are unemployed and live our lives as simply as possible and my husband is fed up with my friend's habitual impositions.  I suddenly began to feel set up and quickly emailed my "friend" that my husband and I would bring a case of white wine (after a horrible disagreement with my husband over this).  But several hours later the owner of the venue left me a message to phone her.  I'm afraid that she ( and maybe the other woman, too ) is under the impression that I will "help" by sharing other expenses for my "friend's" birthday which I'm certain will run thousands of dollars.  

Unfortunately the answer to my question is obvious - I should confront my friend about this - the question is "how"?  

This is extremely embarrassing for all (except for her, and I assure you she is not going to change nor will she accept any responsibility or criticism without a fight ).  Any suggestions on what to say and to whom???  Thank you for your consideration!

--Olga


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Olga,

The time has come for clear communication. 

I can see a pattern developing here, and you are the only one to change it. The tipping point came when you and your husband had a 'horrible disagreement'. Your 'out-of-town friend' needs to be set straight, lest you face this 'mess' again. Volunteering to help with a party does not mean underwriting it, or as you so eloquently described the role as being a 'fool'. 

My advice at this stage of the game is to email each of the women involved separately, explaining that through no fault of theirs, there has perhaps been a misunderstanding, and that you want to be clear what you are able to assist with. No need to explain what you won't assist with or why! People are known to go blithely through life unaware of their surroundings. Your socialite friend seems to fit into that category rather nicely. Don't allow yourself to be swept up in this bullying dynamic. Stand by your husband here and stop being a doormat. 

Taking back your power can be as challenging as it is invigorating, and it sounds as though you have no other choice. If she puts up a fight or acts uncivilly, perhaps it's time to edit her from your list of circle of friends. 

Remember though to always take the high road and resist fighting fire with fire.

I hope this is of some help.

Kindest regards,

Jay 

First Date Etiquette

Should I invite him in on our first date?

Dear StageofLife.com,



When a guy comes picks you up for your date for the first time, what is the proper etiquette when he arrives?  Do you let him in, offer a drink? Ask if he wants a tour? Do you grab your things immediately and head out to dinner?

-Dating Girl



Jay's ANSWER...



Dear Dating Girl,

Thanks for asking this good question. There are a wide variety of scenarios possible here without  having more details - such as how long you've known this person.  I'm going to assume you know this person to some degree (he's not a complete stranger).  As a rule, I would invite him in and offer him something to drink unless you are on your way to the theatre or a dinner reservation. 

I'd save the tour for a later date. 

Since he has asked you out, he should take the initiative to get the evening rolling. Follow his lead and enjoy being a guest. I hope this helps!

Kind regards, Jay

Rude younger sister or inconsiderate older brother?

Protocol for entering a room - it's your responsibility to announce your arrival...

Dear StageofLife.com,


Almost two years ago my husband and I were visiting with his younger brother and his wife at their home.  We had been visiting almost a half-hour when their younger sister comes in, walks right past my husband (oldest brother) and begins speaking with her other brother and his wife about some computer/internet problems she is having. 

We sat there another 10 minutes and she still did not acknowledge her oldest brother.  We finally said our goodbyes and left.

When we went to visit again, we now found out we have become the outcasts for not speaking to her.  This scenario has continued and we didn't even say anything to the rest of the family about her lack of consideration for her older brother.  It is not our aim to make her look bad, we just felt it was totally bad manners to treat her brother that way.

My question is were we lacking in manners or was it his sister lack of manners?

-The Outcasts



Jay's ANSWER...



Dear Outcast,

Technically speaking, the younger sister is at fault for not announcing her entrance in some way, such as saying hello to everyone assembled.  She has no social graces, nor does the rest of the family for not recognizing this sister's inappropriate behavior and suggesting she apologize.  If it isn't your aim to make her look bad, I suggest you have an honest, private, non-confrontational chat.  This is hardly a skirmish worth risking family relationships over.

Kind regards, Jay. 

Compassion in Three Great Men

Compassion

Our Etiquette Man, Jay, had the chance to hear three wonderful men speak about "Crash, Learn, and Conquer". Former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams; former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and the one and only Donald Trump each spoke at a conference two weeks ago. Here he shares some observations with you...

I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Spark NB event last week where Donald Trump headlined an all star line up of speakers including former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani and the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams. The theme of the day was Crash, Learn and Conquer and was delivered to an audience of seasoned business people, young entrepreneurs and students. I attended because I wanted to hear how these men incorporate civility and compassion into their working lives. Strangely enough I was not surprised that those two words were not uttered a single time throughout the presentation. I found this fascinating, however, because to me without civility and compassion, business cannot truly succeed.

Mr. Williams was the first to speak and he explained how he pulled his province up by the bootstraps and with his tenacity and scrappiness persuaded the federal government to treat his constituency fairly. He has been a hugely successful businessman and attorney as well. Despite the reputation he garnered over his years at bat for the province, he showed a side of compassion and understanding of the really basic needs of his fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans and a genuine caring for people. 

Mr. Giuliani spoke of his time as mayor of New York City during the events surrounding the tragic day of September 11, 2001. In addition to his words of wisdom for entrepreneurs of having a goal, being optimistic, being a problem solver, having courage tempered with fear, the importance of practice, anticipation, and teamwork, his most important pearl, in my opinion, was to love people. He emphasized how friends are our best safety net and that we need to help people whenever we can. Without his enormous compassion and sense of civility towards all people, he would not have had what it took to manage one of worst moments in human history, as we know it.

Mr. Trump spoke of his colossal ups and downs both in business and in his personal life. I lived in New York for many years, so “The Donald’s” track record was old news to me. I remember when he was struggling with what seemed like an insurmountable amount of debt, when his real estate empire was collapsing around him, and when almost any other person would have given up. And I remember watching him climb back building strength upon strength to regain his prominence as a great entrepreneur. He deservedly has the reputation of being a bully in the boardroom and he espoused the position of getting even, having ironclad agreements, and never giving up. His philosophy of loving what you do, staying focused, and making your own luck is one which has been enormously helpful to his career. Although he has great bravado and an arrogance that a scant few would dare to get away with, I came away feeling that here is a man who flourished because of the team of people he maintains around him. My guess is that behind closed doors was a man who demanded respect and who equally showed respect to everyone in his life. He would not have been able to form a good team without compassion for himself and for others and certainly not without sincere civility.

One only need look at his children to see what a great father he has been and continues to be. That is where the evidence really lies. Despite never mentioning the importance of compassion and civility in his life, it is tucked away inside, hiding sometimes behind a tough protective exterior.

I hope the audience appreciated the kindness and common sense values that these men have. We all love to hear the incredible stories of crashing and recovering. Many of us can clearly relate as we have such stories in our own lives. We love to hear about the renegade side of people who go against the tide and handle pressures we hope to never be faced with. Some of us can handle life on a roller coaster and can face serious challenges with great strength and a sense of purpose. Others of us need a more secure, even sedate, life where intense pressures are avoided.

In the end, whichever path we choose or find ourselves on unexpectedly, we can be happier and move more gracefully through the day if we practice compassion and show civility to everyone whom we meet. It is the lubrication that oils the wheels of life and which gives is the strength to put the feelings of other people ahead of our own. In business and in our private lives, we may at times be scrappy, be focused on emergencies, or even be in a position of being arrogant. If tempered with compassion and respect for those around us, those who truly love us will surround us.

--Jay

Lack of Awareness 

Look Around You and Be Polite

This may sound like an exercise akin to patting your head and rubbing your tummy, but I am quite serious about this seemingly simple concept. A reader recently sent me this note illustrating the lack of awareness and kindness towards others. Perhaps we can all learn from this reader’s questions.

“I really enjoy your column. Thanks for the great suggestions for the New Year, which I intend to use. One thing that maybe you could consider writing about is the following: It really bothers me that many people today seem to just live in their own world and have little consideration for others who are around them. Often I have walked into a building right after someone who does not appear to know that I am there and drops the door on me. 

“Another beef that I have is people shopping in grocery store aisles, often with a number of family members, who run into someone that they know and proceed to block the aisle as they carry on a conversation. 

“I think the one that bothers me the most is when you get behind someone at the local drugstore or convenience store who insists on making their purchase, get their air mile points, pay all their utilities, and both check all their lotto tickets and buy new ones while others are waiting behind them! There just seems to be a general inconsideration for others demonstrated here. I used to buy my gas at a convenience store in the Fredericton area where the owner had a policy that customers could not do prolonged lotto ticket transactions if others were waiting. More than once I have just put my purchases down and walked out! 

“I know that I sound like the complainer here but it really does bother me! Happy New Year and looking forward to reading you in 2012.”

The scenarios outlined above are ones to which we can all relate. No one likes having a door surprisingly slammed in his or her face. But it does happen frequently! People just do not look behind them to see if someone is coming and politely hold the door open for that next person. What we need to practice is  being polite by taking just seconds to be aware of those around us. I find that when I experience these annoying situations, a bit of self-reflection often reveals a need to slow down and be more aware of what I am doing.

In grocery stores or any store with narrow aisles and shopping carts, it is helpful to look around and try not to inconvenience others. I am not suggesting that a good ‘gossip’ isn’t appropriate quietly in the store, but most customers are not there for social purposes. They need to get in and get out. The lesson here is to consider putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. The Golden Rule comes in handy frequently. This is another call to slow down and be aware of those around you, even putting them and their feelings before yours upon occasion.
 
The multi-tasker at the super market or at the bank or even at the ticket counter can really be annoying. We have become accustomed to one-stop shopping and find accomplishing a number of chores at one place very satisfying. However, if there is a line of people behind you watching you wind through your list of lottery tickets or other time-consuming tasks, I recommend coming back at a time when the lines may be shorter. This is akin to going through a busy grocery line with a full cart of purchases without helping to bag them. We all know how annoying it is when it happens to us. This is a two-way street. It is inconsiderate and disrespectful.

Let the New Year allow you to start off with a clean slate in one important way. Slow down and pay more attention to exactly what is going on around us. As we interact with other people, whether they are fellow shoppers, clerks, or friends and family, becoming more aware of how our actions affect other people will make for a more civil society. And don’t forget to smile often. We never know how our smile can brighten someone else’s day. It happens often!

--Jay

Standing your ground with visitors

Self-invited house guests

Dear Jay/StageofLife.com,


Three times now, a couple I know only fairly well and like only moderately have invited themselves to stay with me for several days. I suspect that their main reason is that I live in a very pleasant seaside town. They give me a lot of advance notice of their visit, so it's difficult to claim that I have previous engagements so far in advance, and they now know that I have a spare room.

In truth, I don't like having people to stay and only ever invite those really dear to me - my sister, brother and other dear friends and relations who live far away.I live alone and work full-time as a translator from home, without any domestic help.

This couple expect me to be available to entertain them, accompany them on outings and feed them. The man is diabetic, with special dietary requirements, and grumbles a lot about the wet Cornish weather. They do offer to "help", but the main help I need is for them to get out of the kitchen when I'm trying to cook and, anyway, their "help" is useless because they don't know where anything is or how anything works. They leave me feeling completely exhausted mentally and physically.

When they leave they always "invite me back", but they live in a distant town I'm never likely to want to visit or pass through. How can I get myself out of this Wunwanted guest trap" I've allowed myself to fall into? Your advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

Jenny




Jay's ANSWER...


Dear Jenny,

Thanks for taking the time to ask this very good question. I am glad to see that you are taking responsibility for having "fallen into this trap". You just need to learn how to say 'no'. You are in fact being bullied by these folks, albeit unintentionally (I hope). This is a case of separating facts and feelings.


When you next speak with them simply explain the fact that you do not want any house guests at this time. You live alone for a reason and you need not feel obliged to share that reason with anyone. "I just do not want house guests" should suffice.

Think of it this way. When someone does something to you that you don't like, you say "Please don't do that." They should respect that. If they don't, they are being disrespectful and hurtful, which is unacceptable behavior.You may have to speak in a louder voice to make clear that your boundaries are not to be crossed.

Standing up for one's self is not easy, especially after you've been somewhat of an enabler in the situation. But this is what you need to do.

I hope this helps. Jay






Etiquette Question - Ask StageofLife.comIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

--StageofLife.com


It's a Respect Thing

Rising to welcome others 

Jay,

The other day my mother was hospitalized overnight.  I went to visit her and sat by her bed.  The room was small as hospital rooms usually are.  During the course of my visit the doctor and a priest stopped in on separate occasions.  The doctor was a women between 35-40 years old and the priest was elderly. 

 When each entered the room, my mother introduced me to them.  I shook both of their hands without rising from my chair.My mother thinks I should have stood up but I don't agree with her.  I'm 35 years old.

Any thoughts?

-Anonymous





Jay's ANSWER...


Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for asking this good question. I would have to side with your mother on this one. Standing is a sign of respect, something both of these people deserve, as frankly does anyone else. Age and gender really have nothing to do with rising when someone enters your "space". It makes people feel welcome and respected.

I hope this helps, Jay


Planet Etiquette

Recycling, Trash, and General Caring For Our Planet Etiquette

How is our etiquette concerning the planet on which we live?

I try to be mindful of taking care of our delicate planet on a daily basis. I am serious about recycling as is my partner.  All of the wine and beer bottles, cans, newspapers, cardboard, plastic bags and vegetable scrapings are all recycled.  We use to recycle over 2000 pounds of vegetable scrapings every year when operating the Windsor House. Our garden has good soil as a result, although a ton doesn’t really make as much difference as it sounds. However, every ton of waste not put into the landfill is to the good of the planet.

It amazes me how reckless people are today about the garbage they produce. Coffee cups are strewn along the highway. There are some people who I see regularly picking up discarded pop cans from the roadside as supplemental income, there are so many. The highways in the US and Canada capture so much litter that there are now laws in place to combat offenders. We should know better. 

And to those of us who smoke, it is hard to believe how cavalier we have become of making the streets our own personal ashtray. Nothing could be more disrespectful to our visitors and fellow citizens. The town of St. Andrews actually employs someone to pick up cigarette butts as a summer job. How pathetic is that?  This reflects so badly on our beautiful town and on the self esteem of our residents who feel it is their right to use the streets as a trash bin. And the sad fact is that no one can point a finger at any one group. I have witnessed this behavior from young and old and all socio-economic classes. It is arrogance at its very worst. 

Before I come across as too self righteous, I admit to contributing to this total disregard for the fragility of our planet. I waste water like there is no tomorrow. I don’t turn off lights as I might when not in use. I don’t follow through on certain excellent suggestions from the Department of Energy on ways to use less electricity and conserve natural resources. I drive too much, although I must admit to ‘using’ other gas guzzlers to pick up and drop off my mail.

So, what do we do?  What do I do?

Here we are living in one of the most ‘happening’ places on the planet as far as energy goes and we treat it with little respect. We take it for granted. We don’t want to see our streets littered with cigarette butts, yet we constantly flick them away. We’re not doing that consciously because we know someone needs employment to pick them up. We do it unconsciously. It’s like spitting or swearing or wearing clothes that don’t fit, or bullying or beating our children or spouses. It has become a way of life and it must stop. It soils our surroundings in such a negative way.

I can remember a time when there were no leash laws and there were no ‘pooper scooper’ laws. Walking down the streets of Paris or New York was a bit of a mine field. Suddenly people decided to end this horrible and lazy disrespectful behavior. Today, even in our small seaside tourist town, there are leash laws and special dispensers of plastic bags. For the most part, everyone with a dog is careful to follow these regulations. That is considered real progress. And fortunately no one is inconvenienced.

It’s time to take the next step.

We have made a major step forward by banning herbicides and pesticides in our small town. And a local company is testing organic fertilizer. The province provides home energy analyses for practically nothing, with incentives to improve energy efficiency. There are recycle centers which are constantly improving. There are many chances for us to all make a smaller footprint on the planet. What is keeping us from taking advantage of them? 

In my opinion, these values must be taught at home and reinforced in the school system. Given the high cost of ‘deposit’ fees, this should be pretty easy when it comes to bottles and cans. Newspapers are trickier because you actually have to stack them up and take them to the recycle bin, and you get no cash in return. What a pity! Do it anyway. I find that every trip I take to the recycle bins gives me a sense of doing the right thing and it feels good. But maybe that’s just me. So many people feel the same way.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all did?


Reader Question: Holiday Etiquette

Travel Etiquette for the Holidays

Jay,

This will be my first holiday season in my own apartment with my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. As excited as I am to decorate, bake and enjoy the holidays as an adult, I am a little concerned about how to handle some of the holiday activites.

We are going to see our entire family (his & mine) on Thanksgiving. Is it wrong of us to want to spend Christmas Day in our own home this year instead of hiking from house 1, house 2, etc.? My family has a bit of an old mentality, and expects us to be there since we are 1) not married yet and 2) are not hosting the holidays ourselves.

Should we suck it up and travel all day during Christmas, or enjoy a couple's Christmas in the place we worked so hard to obtain?

Thanks,

Laurel


Jay's ANSWER...

Dear Laurel,

Thanks for asking this really good question. I have found myself in this position both as a single person with a significant other and as a married person.

My experience tells me that parents usually do want their children to make the trek, sometimes even if they are burdened with kids, but I can totally identify with your position of wanting to spend Christmas in your home with your beloved.

My advice is to be as compassionate to yourselves and to your families as possible. This means being accommodating when possible, yet protecting your private time as well and without feelings of guilt. I think family traditions become traditions because most of the time they work well. If you step and back and look at the big picture, you in fact may be the most flexible; in which case you would be appropriately expected to bend more. 

This in no way diminishes your desire to spend a quiet private Christmas in your own home. The symbolism which surrounds that is very strong and important. It is also resilient. My advice is to follow your instincts and "suck it up".  Be grateful that you have two families to visit on such an important holiday.

I hope this helps, Jay


Reader Question - Finger Foods

Dating Etiquette on Finger Foods

Jay,

What foods can you eat with your hands in a more formal dining situation at a restaurant or at someone's home during a first date?

Thanks,

Abby


Jay's ANSWER...

Abby,

As a general rule, if you are out and there is no cutlery put out, such as a picnic of fried chicken or crabs, burgers, fries and hot dogs, then everything is fair game to be eaten with your hands. In some countries, forks and knives are never used. However, in most cases you will have cutlery. So what’s ok to eat with your fingers? Asparagus is one for sure. Although the most fastidious people will use a fork and knife, I love using my fingers. 

I had a friend who used to grow 1000 acres of asparagus for Jolly Green Giant. During the short harvesting season, we would go down to his farm and at dinner we would be served an enormous platter of asparagus a foot high right in the middle of the dining room table. Additionally there were bowls of delicious lemony hollandaise sauce and we all delighted in dipping the freshly steamed spears into the sauce and then dropping them into our mouths.

Other foods, in short, which are perfectly ok to eat with your fingers are...

  • Artichokes (impossible to eat otherwise)

  • crisp bacon

  • shrimp cocktail

  • French fries (if served with a steak, use a fork)

  • olives

  • pastries (breakfast)

  • raw veggies with dip.

Otherwise, use cutlery as provided and you will not be in fear of making a faux pas.

Meet Stage of Life's Etiquette Coach

Meet Jay Remer - etiquette expert on StageofLife.comOur Etiquette Expert

Why Jay?  It's simple...Jay knows etiquette. 

For years Jay has planned and managed royal, corporate, political and social events and parties, some of them for up to 500 people.  As a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington, he offers workshops on business, social and dining etiquette, as well as international protocol for a variety of audiences.  From teenage students to corporate clients, Jay teaches everything from the basics of a handshake to the subtleties of developing a business relationship during a networking dinner.  His course on self-esteem in youth, in particular, has been encouraged by Dr. Piet Forni, founder of the Civility institute at Johns Hopkins University.  Originally from Delaware, Jay now lives in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada  where he has written a weekly etiquette column in the National Post and is a current columnist in New Brunswick’s Telegraph Journal.  He is a Social Etiquette and Good Manners expert on allexperts.com and has answered over 1,000 questions from people around the world...and he's now ready to answer your questions here on Stage of Life. 

Just let us know your question, your stage of life, and we'll post your question and Jay's official etiquette response on this page.

Ask Jay a Question

You can read more about Jay on his website, EtiquetteGuy.com

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