Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about declining to go on double dates, gifting unwanted jams, bailing on weddings with no warning, and much more.
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about declining to go on double dates, gifting unwanted jams, bailing on weddings with no warning, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
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QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS:
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Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
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Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.
Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...
Nick: ... that we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is quote, "I have a friend whose husband really wants to be friends with my husband. We've gone on a couple of double dates, and my husband is not interested in spending any more time with my friend's husband. My friend's husband hasn't done anything offensive, my husband just doesn't enjoy spending time with him. I've continued to see my friend on my own, but she keeps suggesting more double dates. What do I tell her? I feel bad coming up with excuses, and I really value her friendship."
Leah: I hate being put in the middle.
Nick: [laughs] This happens, though.
Leah: Oh, it does.
Nick: This definitely happens, yeah.
Leah: So horrible when you have to be in the middle.
Leah: Because you feel like you have to please two parties.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I don't know if this is necessarily that difficult, right? I feel like we don't need to make excuses. In fact, we should not make up excuses. Like, I think that is definitely a no here.
Leah: Oh yeah, I wouldn't make up excuses at all, because then you'll have to keep making up excuses forever.
Nick: Yeah, and that's exhausting. Right.
Leah: So you can't do that.
Nick: Who needs that? Yeah. I mean, my initial thought is just, we don't need grand announcements here. We just are unavailable. "Oh, I'm so sorry my husband’s unavailable to join, but I would be delighted to see you on Tuesday night."
Leah: I do feel like that leads to the possibility of them asking again and again and again.
Nick: Yes. And for some reason, he is just not free tonight. He can't make it. He's not feeling up to it.
Leah: What if the friend is like, "Hey, do you want to do a double date," and there's no date on it?
Nick: "Oh, yeah. Maybe. We'll see. Let me know what you're thinking."
Leah: I think you can also tell your friend, "I really love spending time with you."
Leah: "And the two of us catching up."
Nick: Yes. Yeah. And just make it just a "us" thing.
Nick: Yeah, that's good. Yeah, I mean, because otherwise, what is the conversation? "Oh, I would love to, but my husband just doesn't care for your husband. Nothing personal. He just doesn't want to be friends.
Leah: Yeah. [laughs]
Nick: Is that the conversation? I mean, maybe at some point it needs to be, but I don't think we're there.
Leah: I don't think we're there yet, no. I think we could—"He's not available, and I would like to just hang out with you."
Nick: Yeah, I think let's keep the focus on that.
Leah: I think you could say, "My husband, you know, doesn't enjoy—"there are couples where one person is very introverted.
Nick: Yes. I mean, I think the question is, is the husband more social with everybody else, and it's just your husband he doesn't care for?
Nick: Or is he just not into maybe being that social in general? If it's just I'm not that social, well, that's fine. But if it's just like, "Oh, I just saw your husband at a big Super Bowl party, and then I saw him doing karaoke night on Instagram, and I saw him leading a group trip for ice skating last weekend." And it's like, "Oh, you didn't want to have brunch with us?"
Leah: Very good point.
Leah: Very good point, yes.
Nick: I guess it depends on temperament. My guess is that this is personal. It's just I don't really want to make an effort to spend time with this person. Now on the flip side, I think a question for the husband is: can you suck it up and just do it? Like, do you loathe it? Or for the sake of friendship and harmony, can you just show up once in a while to a dinner? And yeah, we've all been to these dinners, which we would rather not be at, but can we tough it out for 90 minutes? I mean, I think we could suffer through 90 minutes of something.
Leah: I guess.
Nick: Yes. I mean, I guess how passionate is the husband here about never spending time socially with this person? What's that level?
Leah: Well, it could be like once every six months, and then you could see your friend separately.
Nick: I think if we can space it out. Like, we don't need a weekly brunch, but maybe once a quarter, that would maybe be enough to sort of keep it going, but keep it light.
Nick: Okay. You don't sound convinced.
Leah: So if I was the husband and I was like, "Hey, in our relationship, I will do things I don't want to do if they're important: family, job things. Where on that scale is this double date dinner?"
Nick: Yeah, I think that's the point I was hoping to make is that, like, where does this fall on that spectrum?
Leah: I don't get the idea that our letter writer thinks that the husband should suck it up.
Nick: No, I don't get that impression.
Leah: Then I think that he shouldn't suck it up. He doesn't want to do it. We only have so much time in our lives. There are certain things we have to do that we don't want to do because of our relationship. This doesn't seem to be on the top of the list.
Nick: I gotcha. So I think our letter writer's just concerned about her friend.
Nick: And how do we maintain that relationship without offending her? Because it would be a little offensive if, like, "Oh, my husband doesn't like your husband, and that's why he never wants to do anything with you guys."
Leah: I think that's why we lean into saying to our friend, "I really look forward to this time with just the two of us."
Nick: Yeah, I think that might be the right path forward.
Nick: It's sticky. Well, letter writer, let us know what you do and let us know how it goes.
Nick: So our next question is quote, "My sister for several years now gives my parents a very fancy and expensive jam for Christmas that I happen to know they do not care for. They put on a very good front every year when she gives yet another jar of this wonderful jam. And so, of course, she keeps buying the jam. Are they just stuck now?"
Leah: I think we could say we love the jam.
Nick: Well, they've been saying that, and then they get more jam.
Leah: But ...
Leah: ... we say this, you know, earlier, "We're really backed up on jam. We're not through the jam that we've already been given."
Nick: Right. Okay. Yeah, we have an ample back stock.
Leah: We have a storage of jam—which we greatly appreciate—but we have not been able to catch up on the jam eating.
Nick: Yeah, I think you could do that. I think we could emphasize what we do want instead, like, "Love the jam. Jam is great. But actually, what we're really into these days is yuzu marmalade." And really sort of emphasize, like, the thing you would want this person to buy.
Leah: I think that works too.
Nick: And then a question is: do we want to relay anything through the sister? Like, should the sister say something which is like, "You know, mom and dad, like, would rather have something else for Christmas. We don't have to be buying jam."
Leah: Well, I think does the sister want to be stuck in the middle of this?
Nick: Well, the sister is in the middle because the sister wrote us. This is not the parents. This is not the jam recipients.
Leah: I know, but I think she's writing on their behalf because the question is, are they stuck now, not should I say something?
Nick: Okay. Although I think this is common, where we give something to somebody and they say they like it—which is polite. And so then we of course think, "Oh, they liked it!" And so we might give them something similar in the future, which will also then be something that they actually don't like.
Leah: I guess the sister could say to her sister, "Hey, I know mom and dad really want this blank this year. Do you want to go in on it with me?"
Nick: Oh! Go in on jam?
Leah: No. We know they don't want jam. I'm saying, like ...
Nick: This sounds like a stocking stuffer, though. I mean, I can't imagine this jam is, like, the main event.
Leah: Well, maybe it's like an unlimited jam or like a huge box of jam.
Nick: Oh, jam of the month club.
Leah: Yeah, something like that.
Nick: [laughs] Okay.
Leah: And then so you could just switch the present to be like, "I think they want this. Do you want to go in on it with me? I know they're backed up on jam."
Nick: Yeah, I don't think we want to say we hated all of your past presents.
Leah: Yeah. No, I think we definitely don't want to say that.
Nick: So it needs to be in terms of what we might prefer in the future.
Leah: Yes. Or "Hey, I'm trying to cut down on sugar."
Nick: Okay. If that's really true, though.
Leah: If that's true. You can't then have cake.
Nick: Right. [laughs] Yeah, I don't want you switching over to the cake of the month club then.
Leah: [laughs] Yeah, that's only if that's true.
Nick: Right. Yeah. No, no, so often when we're making up excuses, like, it is very helpful if they're actually truthful.
Leah: Or I mean and also, you can't tell a lie because it goes against your karma points.
Nick: Oh, or that. Sure. I mean, however you want to arrive at that answer, fine.
Leah: So I think the first question is: does that person want to get involved? And if she does, she could say they're still working through the jam.
Nick: So yeah, are you stuck? Never stuck.
Leah: I love the way you said that. "Never stuck."
Nick: Although actually, there are a lot of etiquette problems where, like, you actually are stuck.
Leah: [laughs] For the rest of your life.
Nick: [laughs] But for this at least, I feel like there is a way out.
Leah: I don't think that I really withheld myself from making stuck sticky jam references because that was rife with, and I didn't do it.
Nick: Oh, your restraint is noted.
Leah: Thank you.
Nick: You're welcome. Our next question is quote, "What is the etiquette for belated condolences? A few months ago, I was on my maternity leave and my boss's sibling died. Normally, I would have expressed my condolences in person or through a card at work, but because I was on leave and did not have her address for a card, I never brought it up. In hindsight, I could have sent her an email or a text, but both options didn't feel appropriate to me at the time. I'll be returning to work soon and would like to appropriately acknowledge her loss without forcing her to have a conversation about it or acting like it didn't happen. Any thoughts?"
Leah: I think you can just bring a card to work.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think the whole point of condolences is to bring some comfort to the person experiencing loss. Like, that's the point here. That's what we're trying to achieve with a condolence note. And so I think however we want to achieve that is fine. So bringing a note to work? I think that's good, especially if you think actually having a conversation would be awkward. Written word. She can open it when she wants, she can get to it when she can. Like, it doesn't have to become a thing.
Leah: Yeah, that's what I was thinking. She could open it later. Also, everybody knows you were out on maternity leave. Like, there was a lot happening. I think it's totally fine to then express your condolences via card because you don't want to have to talk about it at work when you come back.
Nick: And it's important to note that there's no expiration date on this. Like, you can send a condolence note at basically any time. And so just do it sooner than later. But I think just do it.
Leah: You're just letting them know that you were thinking of them.
Nick: Yes. And I think they'll appreciate that, and I think they'll have some comfort with that.
Nick: So our next question is quote, "Is it rude to say yes in an RSVP for a wedding and then bail the day before without informing the hosts? A lot of these people are also potential guests to my future wedding, and now I'm hesitant on inviting them if they'll pull the same stunt on me."
Leah: What is this "A lot of these people?" How many people did this?
Nick: That is what I wrote down! Yeah, I mean, a lot of people? What are we talking about? What has happened here?
Leah: What has happened?
Nick: What? I mean, one person has an emergency. Okay, fine. A lot of people? I mean ...
Leah: But also, we have an emergency and we didn't inform anybody that we're not coming?
Nick: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of questions here.
Leah: Obviously, there are some emergencies where you can't inform people—you're right in the middle of it. But a lot of things you could be like, "Hey, I have to travel last minute. I can't make it, I'm so incredibly sorry."
Nick: I mean, the day before the wedding? I mean ...
Leah: And a lot of people?
Nick: The "a lot" part for me, I don't know what we do with that.
Leah: I don't—I mean, is this like a table full of people? Is this like a team?
Nick: Was this a chartered plane, and there was this whole Lostsituation?
Leah: How did a lot—I mean, were they all—it almost feels like they decided as a group that they were angry and they weren't going and they weren't gonna inform them, like, as some kind of way to express their anger. I just don't understand why it's a whole group.
Nick: Yeah. No, that's, I think, an important detail in terms of how we move forward because I think, like, it's never the etiquette crime, it's the cover up. So okay, we couldn't make the wedding at the last minute. We failed to inform the host in advance. Okay, not great. It happened. So what did these people, this group of people, do afterwards? Was there any conversation afterwards, or do we pretend like this never happened? Like, was there any contrition? You should see Leah's face right now. [laughs]
Leah: I still struggle with "Not the etiquette crime, it's the cover up" because in so much situations, it was a mistake where we say that that happened. This seems like a group of people decided last minute—when it's a group of people, it sort of takes emergency off the table.
Nick: It's a little premeditated.
Leah: So it seems like a group of people just decided to go to Cabo.
Nick: Yeah. No, it definitely feels like something in that flavor. Yeah. No, we're sipping margaritas.
Leah: And then didn't tell the wedding party.
Nick: Yeah, and thought that was cool. So ...
Leah: So that definitely feels like the crime is actually a crime.
Nick: Yeah. No, it's definitely something bad has happened.
Leah: But also, was there contrition is also important, obviously.
Nick: Yes, because I think if you are gonna be my guest and I'm worried are you gonna do this to me, I guess I need to know are the circumstances potentially similar? Like, is there also gonna be this party in Cabo that all these people might want to go to around my wedding? And if there is, then yeah, there might be a high risk that this might happen.
Leah: I'd say, is it rude to RSVP "yes" for a wedding and then bail without informing the groom? Yes.
Nick: Yes. Yes. Full stop.
Leah: Full stop, barring some huge emergency.
Nick: Yes. I mean, we get that there are circumstances where you wouldn't be able to inform them in advance, but at your earliest opportunity to reach out, you would need to reach out.
Leah: And then a lot of these people are potential guests. I feel like we ...
Nick: Who are these people?
Leah: We need the backstory on that moving forward.
Nick: Who are these people? So I think to answer the question, I would be weary. I would definitely be weary. And I would definitely brace myself for the potential of last-minute cancellations with these people. And how you want to handle that financially for your event, you know, I guess you'd have to sort of make that decision. But I guess there's a risk. I mean, past performance is no guarantee for future returns, but I don't know if I'd invest in this.
Leah: Yeah. And I would definitely want to know what their follow-up was with the groomsmen: if they apologize, if there was a reason.
Leah: And I would weigh that in with my decision.
Nick: Yeah. No, This is definitely gonna be a cost-benefit analysis. So get out your Excel spreadsheet.
Nick: Oof! So our next thing is a vent. And let me just say this came in the mail with the most beautiful calligraphy. I mean, so lovely!
Leah: Lovely. It was beautiful!
Nick: And I think because the handwriting was so beautiful, it makes the tale I'm about to tell that much more disturbing.
Nick: The juxtaposition. So the letter is quote, "At the grocery store, my four year old was investigating various sweet things strategically shelved in the checkout aisle at four year old's height. I was successfully downplaying his hopes of buying a sweet, reminding him we would have dinner soon when the young woman in line ahead of us involved herself. She found my son charming and announced she would buy a treat for him herself, reaching for the packaged danish he held in his tiny hand. I had time only to draw breath to say, 'Oh, no thank you, but you're very kind to offer,' before the item had been passed to the cashier, the scanner went beep and the crinkly packet was restored to my child's hand. He gazed in adoration after his new best friend as she left without ever addressing me directly. It surprises me that this would require an explanation, yet here we are. Purchasing sweets for strangers' children without permission is surely a misdemeanor, at least. As for the danish, it quietly found a space atop the fridge and was forgotten."
Leah: I wrote in all capital letters: "JUST REALLY UNBELIEVABLE. NOT OKAY."
Nick: Yeah. The only thing I wrote down was: "This feels like one of those Highlights puzzles where you have to spot all the errors." There are so many things that are wrong with this picture.
Leah: Who is this person who thought in some world we would buy food for another person's child after the parents just said no?
Nick: Yeah. I mean, because what do you do with this? How do you get through to this person?
Leah: And also, how would you not be so—I mean, I would be so shocked if somebody would just, like, did this.
Nick: I would be more than shocked. I would be angry. I would really be livid that you crossed such a boundary. I mean, something involving a child?
Leah: Something involving a child. I don't even really think there's a bigger boundary to cross.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, that's sort of the ultimate boundary, and you just blew right through it.
Leah: Angry. I mean, I would definitely be angry. I don't even know if—I think I would be shocked for so long that it would take—do you know what I mean? You want to just be like, yell, you know? That's how I would feel in my head. Like, "What are you doing? Are you serious?"
Nick: Like, what part of you thinks this is okay?
Leah: Like, because literally nobody in the world thinks this is okay. This is not like a miscommunication. No one in the world thinks this is okay.
Nick: Yeah. No, that's, I guess, what's so mind boggling. Like, this person that does this, like, how do they justify this in their head?
Leah: I mean, I made up stories in my head.
Nick: Where they're like, "Oh, this is fine." I mean, benefit of the doubt. Maybe they thought they were doing something nice.
Leah: Like, she couldn't—she wanted to get her kid a danish, but she just couldn't do it. And that's why she said, "Oh, you'll spoil your dinner."
Nick: [laughs] I don't know. I mean, sometimes you just can't do anything with this.
Leah: And she even said, "No. No, thank you."
Nick: Yeah. No, I mean, a boundary was very clearly set, and a boundary was very clearly violated. So this happens in the world.
Leah: Does this happen in the world? I mean, this happened. If this happened more than once, I would be blown—I'm blown away, I'm blown away!
Nick: I would hope this is a one off, but I suspect stuff like this is going on all around us, Leah.
Leah: [laughs] Somebody else's kid!
Nick: [laughs] I know! Well, letter writer. I'm sorry this happened.
Leah: I'm so sorry. And I would bump this up from a misdemeanor.
Nick: Oh yeah. I mean, this is definitely a high crime. Absolutely.
Leah: Not to do a callback, but I think we can bring back my FSR: for sure rude.
Nick: [laughs] Okay. Somebody is gonna really try and make that happen, huh?
Leah: This is an FSR!
Nick: All right.
Leah: I would have so much trouble not taking the danish and, like, throwing it at the person. You know what I mean? That would be one of those things where you're fighting yourself. You're stuck.
Leah: Immobile, because you're fighting yourself from the response that you want to have.
Nick: Yes. And I think the only reason that our letter writer probably didn't do that or escalate in a more aggressive way is that they were in front of their child.
Leah: Yeah, their kid was there.
Nick: And wanted to model polite behavior. Had the child not been there, I think there might have been stronger words.
Leah: Jumped right over that shopping cart.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, those little dividers that you can use on the conveyor belt? Those can come in handy for a lot of things.
Nick: [laughs] So do you have any outrageous etiquette crimes to report? Please let us know. You can let us know through our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.