I Said They Didn’t Have to Come to My Wedding. But I’m Still Hurt.

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I recently got married. After several changes to our original plans, we had a small, in-person, socially distanced event. We told invited guests that we would also livestream the wedding and that there would be no hard feelings if they decided that was the better choice for them. We outlined the safety protocols of the venue to all invitees. But we still had to ask for firm R.S.V.P.’s like any other wedding. Some guests declined parts of the celebration (after the deadline) and others didn’t show up after saying they would. Every single one of them cited Covid-19 as their reason. I am really hurt by this — especially from our nearest and dearest. How do I move forward with these people?


For many of us, invitations from “our nearest and dearest” are more complicated than you may think. It’s great that you offered a streaming option for guests who didn’t feel comfortable going to a wedding during a pandemic. And I’m glad you underscored that guests were free to make their own decision.

You still invited them, though. So, without meaning to, you put loved ones in the awkward position of showing up for you on your big day or heeding the warnings of virtually all medical experts who’ve told us not to travel and to socialize only with members of our household. This would be a hard call for some people.

I’m sorry you’re hurt. But keep in mind that many guests were probably struggling with their decision (and a worsening pandemic) after your R.S.V.P. deadline. They weren’t being unkind. Just the opposite! Rational people would have sent regrets right away. For now, let’s avoid in-person options until it’s safe to congregate again. It’s more generous to our guests.

Credit…Christoph Niemann

I am a college student who came home for winter break to discover that my 14-year-old brother’s skin is absolutely awful. He has acne covering his entire face and large patches of eczema around his neck. When my mother picked me up, she warned me not to say anything to him. She bought him face wash and moisturizer and doesn’t think there’s anything else she can do. I told her he should see a dermatologist, which only made her upset. I really want to help my brother, but I don’t know how. Any advice?


I have no doubt that your brother’s skin is making him feel bad. So, one warning and one piece of advice: When I was your age, I came home from school thinking I knew everything. I was pretty insufferable. I have no reason to believe that’s true of you. Just be careful to respect your mother’s judgment.

Ask her: “Is there a reason you’re not taking him to a dermatologist?” If it’s not about the expense (or your brother’s refusal to go), share your concern that his skin condition is probably painful for him. These are tough economic times for many families, though. If that’s true of yours, quietly research free or income-based clinics that may help your brother at reduced cost.

My husband has a close friend. He often wants me to accompany him on daylong visits to this friend and his wife. He clearly hopes that the wife and I will become close too, but it’s not going to happen. She’s perfectly nice, but we have nothing in common. When I visit, she and I make awkward chitchat and wait for my husband to be ready to leave. When I’ve suggested to my husband that he go alone, he insists that this other couple wants me to come and he would be hurt if I didn’t. Advice?


It’s magical when two couples really gel, so I understand the triumph of hope over experience for your husband. But you seem to have given this friendship a solid try. Now it’s time to speak with your husband more firmly.

Say, “I know you want me to be close with your friend’s wife. We’ve tried, but we don’t connect. You can tell your friend the truth or that you’d prefer to spend time with him alone. But I’m not going to visit anymore.” Then talk it out or compromise a little. Be gentle, but don’t forfeit your autonomy.

My sister-in-law gave my 16-year-old daughter a hypersexualized blouse that opens to the navel. It’s totally inappropriate, and my daughter was humiliated! How can we let my sister-in-law know that she crossed a line? It’s not a blouse she would buy for her own daughter. Meanwhile, our daughter, who is good about thank-you notes, doesn’t know how to respond. Help!


Have you never received a bad (or uncomfortable) gift before? Keep quiet or, if you can be calm about it, say: “Thanks for your gift. I think the blouse is too mature for a teenager, but you were kind to remember her.”

And what a great lesson for your daughter: learning to thank people for gifts she doesn’t like, while sincerely acknowledging their generosity.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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