Miss Manners: What are the appropriate ways to pursue adult friendships?

It wasn’t really a problem during my college years. But it’s happened at least twice in the past three years that someone I’ve befriended thought I was romantically interested in them, instead of just wanting to be friends. I’m friendly and enthusiastic, but I don’t consider myself a flirt.

What are good ways to pursue adult friendships?

Group settings tend be much more conducive to putting acquaintances at ease than one-on-ones – which lend themselves to more intimate involvements.

“I have a meeting/outing/party and I would like you to come” is a way to start a new friendship. Then, if you get a dubious look, Miss Manners suggests you reassure yourself by saying, “Of course, if you have a partner, bring that too.”

Dear Miss Manners: My mother-in-law has a habit of taking me on expensive outings when we visit her and then leaving me the bill.

She took me to her exclusive salon to have her hairstylist cut and do my hair, which cost well over $100. She also “gave” me (by setting the date) a massage, which cost me another hundred tips. Then she wanted to take me shopping for bras, which I moved on to, because I knew it would cost over $200 to get out of there.

I really enjoyed the trip to her salon, but I would never go alone (same for the massage). She insisted on taking me there, so shouldn’t she pay the bill? Every time I invited her into my living room, I paid for both of us. I really can’t afford his kind of outings.

So don’t agree. Now that you know the game, Miss Manners suggests that you avoid such outings, counter with a more reasonable one, or offer to meet up later.

“Oh, you know, I just took a trip home for a haircut/massage/manicure/bra shopping/wrinkle reduction. But go ahead and have fun, and maybe we can meet later for lunch. Suggesting the restaurant and clearly stating that you will pay would also be a good idea – just so that you don’t receive expensive, confusing or misleading invitations again.

©2022, by Judith Martin.

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