The Mannerly Way of Saying “I Believe Her Business Trip is Actually a Leisure Trip”.

Dear Manners,

I have been dating a woman for six months now and things have been great. We get along well, make each other laugh, and support one another. However, she travels once or twice a month for a few days to a week. While it’s nice to have time to yourself, I’m starting to wonder if her trips are really for business or just a short vacation. She always seems a bit disappointed when she returns, which leads me to believe that it might be a vacation. I don’t feel okay with her taking vacations without me, so should I give her an ultimatum?

There are a lot of red flags here. It’s important to consider why you don’t allow each other to do this and why she might be lying and taking vacations twice a month. Perhaps this will help her get a stable job, but it’s important to talk to her and find out. Ms. Manners suggests that instead of giving her an ultimatum, you should ask in a non-judgmental way if she would like to go on vacation with you. Her answer will likely provide some clarity and if it’s not satisfactory, at least you’ll have your TV in your underwear again.

To Mr. Manners,

I often run into my neighbors while walking my dog, and they frequently ask me to stop and chat. However, I’m very sensitive to laundry odors, which can be overwhelming and difficult to breathe comfortably. What’s the best way to politely decline an invitation to socialize in this situation?

It’s important to be courteous when declining a social invitation. You don’t have to give a reason why you can’t stop to chat, as something like “Your smell is slowly killing me” won’t make you any friends. Miss Manners suggests that you could hint that you’re in a hurry because of your dog’s urgent errands. Smile and wave from afar while making an apologetic gesture to your furry friend. And the next time you encounter a neighbor without a dog, just hope it’s not laundry day.

A new Miss Manners column is posted Monday through Saturday at washingtonpost.com/advice. Questions can be submitted through her website, missmanners.com, and she can also be followed at @RealMissManners.

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