Aug. 1, 2022

Giving People Shopping Lists, Receiving Mysterious Gifts, Ruining People's Weddings, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about giving people shopping lists, receiving gifts from mysterious senders, ruining people's weddings, and much more.

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about giving people shopping lists, receiving gifts from mysterious senders, ruining people's weddings, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • How do I tell people I don't want to shop for them on my vacation in Milan?
  • What do I do about a gift from an unknown sender?
  • What do I do about someone who keeps following-up about the status of holiday and thank you cards?
  • How do I handle a friend who makes me split the bill for her dinner parties?
  • How do I prevent my relatives from ruining my wedding?







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 149


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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 ...

Leah: [howls]

Nick: ... that we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is quote, "I am so fortunate to soon be traveling to the fashion capital of the world: Milan, Italy. I'll bring a half-empty suitcase so I can do some shopping for myself. Unfortunately, friends and family are asking for items from Milan, so many items that I cannot possibly accommodate everyone. And to be honest, I really don't want to buy anything for anyone else other than moi. Am I being selfish? And how do I tell others that I'm not spending my vacay shopping for other people?"

Leah: The thing is is if you buy for one, you're gonna have to buy for all.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think we would need to commit to this if we were gonna do it. Right.

Leah: So then I think I mean, obviously, we have to sneak a few things back for your nearest and dearest, but I think you can just say, "Hey, I'm only traveling with one suitcase. I'm sorry."

Nick: Yeah, I think that you could say, like, "Oh, I don't know what my plans will be, or where I'll be yet. So I'm not sure if I'll be able to do that."

Leah: I like that.

Nick: And I think you could just be kind of noncommittal about it.

Leah: I also feel like—because I always want to get things for people when I'm traveling and they ask, or if I—but it's also you're not just committing to bringing it back, you actually have to go find it.

Nick: Oh, no, this is effort and time spent on your vacation. And it's kind of like, I get why we wouldn't want to be doing this. Absolutely.

Leah: And I would hope that other people would understand why you might want to make decisions when you're there and figure out your time. And maybe you don't want to spend days looking for different things that people asked for.

Nick: And I think on the flip side, if you are gonna be bold and want to ask someone to buy something for you on their vacation, you've gotta give them an out. You've got to make it sound like, "Oh, if you happen to be in Rinascente, there's this pasta on the top floor that I really love. If you happen to be there, happen to see it, happen to grab it, that would be awesome. But if not, no worries." Like, it has to be in that sort of casualness. It can't be like, "Oh, here's my shopping list."

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Right?

Leah: Yes. You could even think about saying, like, "I love this pasta on—" whatever you just said. And ...

Nick: [laughs] Rinascente? It's a big department store right in the heart of Milan, next to the Duomo.

Leah: No, of course.

Nick: [laughs] I love shopping in Milan. PS—oh, can we just talk about Milan shopping? Milan is wonderful. It's one of the best cities, and I think people do not give it the credit it deserves because they're like, "Oh, it's not Florence and it's not Rome." And it's like, no, it's not. It's great in its own way. And one of the best parts of shopping in Milan is that thing you can do when you come home, when someone's like, "Oh, great sunglasses!" And you're like, "Oh, thanks. I got them in Milan." I specifically like buying things in Milan just so I can have that conversation when I come back.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Just so I can say, like, "Oh, yes. I picked it up in Milan." I don't even need these sunglasses, but I want them so I can have this conversation.

Leah: I love it.

Nick: So I get it. Milan is great, so I'm very jealous about your upcoming trip.

Leah: I think that you could also say yes to all of that. And I hope I'm there when you're wearing these sunglasses and somebody asks, so I get to witness the magic.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: But also, I think that if I was asking somebody, I'd be like, "Hey, I love this pasta. If you're gonna be at this place and you have extra space, you know, let me give you money and then I'll give you money and you can buy yourself one too. Let me treat you to one. You can—maybe you'll love it."

Nick: Oh! Oh, I like that! That's a nice angle. Yes. Which is like, "Oh, I love this thing so much. I want to share this with you. Get one for yourself and we can enjoy it together."

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah, I don't think that's probably gonna go for the Bottega Veneta handbag that this person is being asked to pick up.

Leah: No, I'm just throwing that out there into the wild world.

Nick: But yes, I think that would be nice. But yeah, I think just decline. It's okay to say no. It's your vacation, and it's kind of like these people can book their own trip to Milan if they want.

Leah: Yeah, I think it's absolutely fine to not have a running schedule of getting things for other people on your vacation.

Nick: Exactly. So our next question is quote, "I recently finished my PhD, and officially graduated from my university this week. Yesterday, I received a package containing a beautiful art piece and a handwritten note congratulating me on my PhD and signed by the sender. This is all lovely, but there's one problem: I have no idea who this person is. The art piece is very tailored to the theme of my PhD research. And it was sent to my home address, so there is no mistaking it's meant for me. I've been racking my brain and scouring the internet to find out who this person is and how I might know them, but I've come up empty-handed. Obviously, I'll send this person a thank-you note since I at least have her address from the return address on the package. But would it be appropriate for me to ask in the letter for her to remind me how we are acquainted? Or do I just thank her, and let this be a mystery forever?"

Leah: I think I would want to double down my efforts on trying to find out who this person is.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Because they have my home address, they know when I graduated, they know what I graduated in. They sent me personalized art. I would maybe ask on the down low, I would start asking around.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, your advisor, some friend, roommate, former roommate, other people in the program, I mean, clearly this person knows a lot about you. And so unless this is an admirer in the community who just wants to get to know you better, I mean, they know you. And so you just have to figure out, like, oh, how you know them. And I think we can crack the code. We just have to do a little more digging.

Leah: And I just always as an overprotective—I always am like, I immediately get a little hair on the back of the neck for any safety concerns when someone has your home address. And that's why I just think you—I'm sure it's nothing nefarious, and it's absolutely just a person who's congratulating you, but I think it's just nice to, like, double check with people. "Hey, do we know this person?"

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But I think that if you feel totally like it's all above board and super cool and you don't feel uncomfortable in any way, I would just send a thank-you note without saying, "Hey, who is this?"

Nick: Yeah, I'm inclined just to live with the mystery forever because, I mean, what do you say in that letter? Like, "Oh, thank you so much for this clearly very personal and thoughtful gift. And you are being so thoughtful because you know me very well and the program I just completed. However, I have no idea who you are." Just that's gonna sting a little bit, I think, if somebody received that.

Leah: I also think that it's going to—my guess is if I had to hedge my bets is that you'll be walking around, and then you'll see the person and they'll be with, like, a friend—I don't know, a friend of a relative or in some kind of a group that you go to or something, and then you'll—they'll be like, "Oh!" And then you'll be like, "Oh, of course it's them!" And they just use this nickname, and I didn't put two and two together. And you'll never have to mention that you didn't know.

Nick: Yeah, I think you will crack the code eventually. And I think it is a context issue. I mean, a lot of times I have trouble remembering, like, oh, why do I know this person if it's just in a vacuum? But it's like, oh, I know you because it's that group, it's that circle, it's that event. And so I think we just are missing that context. But it'll click. I mean, you'll probably see this person in the next year, I would guess. You're gonna see this person in the next 12 months, and they will ask you about the macramé display that they sent you, or whatever art this is.

Leah: And then the trick is to hold your face in a way that doesn't reveal that it's all come together finally.

Nick: Yes, you can't have epiphany face.

Leah: [laughs] You cannot.

Nick: [laughs] So letter-writer, let us know how this goes. I'm very curious to see if you ever crack the code on this.

Leah: Please keep us posted. And congratulations on your PhD!

Nick: Oh, and congratulations! Yeah, that's a lot of work.

Leah: So excited for you. This is wonderful.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "One of my wife's cousins often sends texts about cards we're supposed to send her. For example, on December 1, she'll ask when our Christmas card is arriving, and then a week later will ask again. Or when our daughter recently graduated from high school and we invited this cousin and others to a party at our home to celebrate, she gave our daughter a card with a $20 check inside, which was nice enough, but one week later she texted my wife asking why our daughter hadn't sent her a thank-you card yet. Her constant questions get on my wife's nerves, but she won't tell this cousin to stop. Any suggestions on how to handle this?"

Leah: It's always so hard when you're the other person.

Nick: Yeah. I don't know if this is your battle.

Leah: But it's always so hard when, like, you want to help make it stop because you know your partner's upset. And also after a while, you're probably like, I'm also irritated.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, this is aggressive. This is a little aggressive. But your cards must be really good to have this level of desperation.

Leah: I mean, there's so many ways to handle this that are not appropriate that I would want to resort to.

Nick: Oh, I would love to hear some examples, Leah.

Leah: Take her off the Christmas card list.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: "Oh, we're not sending one to you this year."

Nick: Oh, to you specifically.

Leah: Well, she's gonna ask. You can't lie about it.

Nick: "Oh, we trimmed our list this year."

Leah: "We trimmed our list."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess that could definitely do it, although I feel like that'll be a real blow up.

Leah: But I also think that—I mean, I would never do that, but it felt really good to say it.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: I feel like you could start being more vague when she—I don't know how your wife is answering the questions, but I feel like you could start making the responses shorter and, like, kind of like—a little like you need to back off asking so much.

Nick: Yeah, I think we could definitely set a nicer, firmer boundary here, which is like, "Oh, we'll send them when we send them. You'll get it soon."

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And that's what we do for the Christmas cards. And for the thank-you card that they want, I mean also, it's actually not for you to respond. Your daughter is the one that received the gift, so it's up to your daughter to send the thank-you card. So this cousin can take it up with your daughter, and then your daughter can say "They're on their way soon."

Leah: Yeah, I think since your wife doesn't want to tell your cousin to stop, there's a nice middle ground between allowing this behavior to continue and telling her—you know, just being like, "Stop it!" You know what I mean? There's exactly what Nick's saying, which is like a polite, firm boundary.

Nick: Like, yeah. "You'll get it when you get it." And then you can just ignore any further follow-up questions about the status from there.

Leah: Yeah, I think it's gonna take a few pushbacks, and then ideally after a while she'll get it.

Nick: Yes. Although one of the nice things about setting a boundary is that once you set that boundary, you actually are free to ignore everything past that boundary. Like, you're free to just ignore it because it's like "I told you. I'm not gonna give you a tracking number for our Christmas card, so you'll get it when you get it."

Leah: I do think that the wife, though, because she clearly doesn't want to rock the boat with this cousin, probably won't be comfortable ignoring it.

Nick: Right, yes. But I guess just restating the boundary then is your option.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: But it sounds like this cousin needs a hobby.

Leah: That's what I was thinking. Like, what kind of time do you have that you're like, "Hey, it's December 1!" Because I'm sure it's not just happening here. I'm sure they're calling every cousin to be like, "Hey, where is my Christmas card?"

Nick: [laughs] Right.

Leah: "What's going on right now?""

Nick: Nobody's busy in December. No, that's everybody's month of idleness.

Leah: Especially people with children. They're not busy in December at all. Nothing going on.

Nick: Nope, nothing at all. No, I think this cousin should look into ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. I think that could be a very soothing hobby for this person that they should investigate.

Leah: Maybe there should be a gift card in the thank-you notes going back to ...

Nick: Ikebana classes?

Leah: ... pottery-making class, or some kind of a meditation app.

Nick: [laughs] Yes.

Leah: Are we getting a little spicy? Yeah, we are. Nick and I are a little spicy about this.

Nick: Yeah, we're a little spicy today. Yeah.

Leah: I just—you know, why can't people just be nice?

Nick: Yeah. How hard is it, really? How hard is it just to be nice and mindful? Because that's why this is rude. And I think that's why it probably is striking us a little hard today is that, like, this cousin is not being mindful of my time, and that is one of the foundational elements of etiquette is not being respectful of my time.

Leah: And obviously, our letter-writer and their wife and kid are trying with this cousin. They're not cutting her off. They're not telling her to stop her unattractive behavior. They're sending her Christmas cards. They're inviting her to this house party. She's being included, and then she's acting like this.

Nick: Yeah. So I don't love any of this.

Leah: I don't like it.

Nick: Yeah. So sorry this is happening.

Leah: And sorry that you're, like, one person away, so you sort of are in the middle.

Nick: Yeah, I think you just need to be supportive, and support your wife and how she wants to proceed. And hopefully your wife will want to just set some clear boundaries with this cousin, and tranquility will be restored to the universe.

Leah: I feel like it's totally within your wife's boundaries to say, "Please stop asking me when things are coming. It makes me incredibly anxious. I'm really doing the best I can."

Nick: Oh, I like that. Yeah, that's kind of direct. It's polite, it's honest.

Leah: And it explains why it's so—it's like you're making people feel like they have to get more done. I'm sure they're already busy. They're doing their best.

Nick: But we would love a Christmas card from you guys.

Leah: [laughs] Don't worry about me. You don't need any more people on your list.

Nick: No, actually, where is our Christmas card? Where is it? We're waiting. I checked the P.O. box today. I didn't see it. Did it get lost? I don't know. Maybe you should send another one.

Leah: You know what? Yesterday, I was—I have some places that maybe, even though I've been in Los Angeles a year, aren't totally unpacked yet. And so I was going through this, like, carry-all bag, and I found my Christmas earrings and I was like, "I'm just gonna throw them on today."

Nick: Your Christmas earrings?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: You make it sound like you only have one set.

Leah: Well, I mean, these were the big ones. These were like, full—they might as well be full Christmas trees. [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: I think I'm just gonna throw these on in the house.

Nick: And for the record, depending on when you're listening to this episode, it is not anywhere close to Christmas right now.

Leah: Almost as far away as you could be, except for if it was like the day after. But then it's still in the Christmas—you know, so really we're far away. But I'm ...

Nick: Yeah, we're quite far away.

Leah: ... I'm out here celebrating.

Nick: Leah Bonnema That's your favorite holiday.

Leah: I just got excited thinking about it.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I have a friend who lives four hours away from me who I see three or four times a year. It's primarily me who is always doing the driving because she has a baby and it's easier for everyone, and this travel disparity is something I've come to terms with. But what has bothered me and continues to exponentially is how we handle food and meals together. We plan them together, do the shopping together, and then split the grocery bill 50/50. My issue is that my friend always ends up inviting friends or siblings over to have a dinner party since I'm visiting. But then those extra people aren't contributing monetarily to the delicious and expensive food and wines we just bought together.

Nick: "Also, the husband and baby eat the food too. And then the husband then feeds the leftovers to their cats! I love our time together, but this issue has become more and more frustrating to me. So much so that I don't want to visit as much, but it's the way we've always done it, so now it feels incredibly uncomfortable to bring it up. Am I being petty about this? I feel like I visit, and then help fund her parties and feed her family. Thoughts?"

Leah: A) I grabbed my head in the middle of this, right around the sentence, "And then feed the leftovers to the cats." I think that's when my eyes started twitching and I just grabbed my forehead.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Let me just start off by saying you are not being petty. A) you're doing eight hours of driving.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. No, you're definitely making an effort here. You're definitely making an effort to maintain this friendship.

Leah: And I assume they're not splitting gas and tolls.

Nick: I assume they are not taking care of half of that. That's correct.

Leah: I think a way that you could say it is, "Hey, I just love it to be the two of us."

Nick: Yes. I mean, I guess are we having a dinner party every night? Or are we just doing it, like, on your first night in? Like, when is this big dinner party happening?

Leah: I think she's just going for the night. It's one night.

Nick: Oh, this is just an overnight? Okay.

Leah: I feel like we could say, "Hey, I'd love to do something different this time. How about you and I go out to dinner?"

Nick: Yeah, going out to dinner definitely makes it easier to pay what you should. Yes. That's an option.

Leah: I mean, I feel like we're at a point where our letter-writer isn't going to feel better about this.

Nick: Yeah, I mean, that's true. The letter-writer is tempted to basically, like, not visit again.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And I think, oh, I don't think we want to do that. Like, I don't think this is worth ending this friendship over. And if you stop visiting, the friendship is kind of gonna peter out. But one question is: ideally, your friend would be the host, right? It feels like there's a kind of a host-guest relationship happening, and ideally the friend would actually be, like, hosting you in their home and just doing the dinner. Like, that is actually ideally what would be happening here, right?

Leah: Yeah. I mean, ideally your friend would be like, "Hey, you're driving eight hours." Which at this point in time is about $20-million worth of gas.

Nick: [laughs] Right. Yeah.

Leah: And a day's work. Eight hours if you're working eight-hour days, which I mean, I think nobody works eight-hour days anymore. We're all into, like, 12 or 14, but an old school eight-hour day.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Your friend would be like, "You're doing all this driving. You're coming out here. I really appreciate it. I'm host." I mean, that's what it feels like it should be.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, that actually, I think, is probably what bothers me the most about this is that the host is not hosting and is like, "Oh, we're gonna split it 50-50, and then we're going to have all these other people over."

Leah: I don't get it at all.

Nick: Okay, so what do we do about it? So you want to try a let's dine out approach. You want to try maybe a, "Oh, can it just be the two of us for dinner?"

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Do we want to have a polite-yet-direct conversation? I mean, I guess, you know, we often suggest that as an option. Like, is that appropriate here?

Leah: But I feel like saying "I'd like it to just be the two of us" is polite and direct.

Nick: That would be polite and direct, yes. And would you even say, like, "Oh, I want it just to be the two of us. Financially, that would make more sense for me right now."

Leah: Oh, you could also say that. "I think financially that would make more sense for me right now."

Nick: Yeah, that could maybe be a nice way to introduce the topic, which is like, "Oh, I want to share this meal with you. I will pay my half and that's kind of all I can do. And unfortunately I can't do half of the entire guest list."

Leah: "And your cats. And your cats. I can't feed your cats."

Nick: [laughs] "And your cats." I'm less bothered by giving leftovers to the cats than you are, I think.

Leah: I think it's because our letter-writer—because of the exclamation point after cats, I feel like our letter-writer wants to take home the leftovers.

Nick: Yeah. And it's also just like, "Oh, not only am I feeding all these other people, I'm also feeding their pets." I guess it's just like one more mouth to feed on top of all the others.

Leah: Yeah, because you know me, I'm all for pets. I just feel like our letter-writer would be like, "Oh, I love to, like, have a snack in the car on the way home." You know what I mean? I mean, you show up, you have this food, and then you see it get parsed out to all of these other people, and then the final remaining morsel that you were gonna eat on your four-hour drive back in darkness, it goes to the cats.

Nick: Now another idea is we insist that this friend visit you half the time, so we have some equity there. And when they come to visit you, let's have a dinner party. You should invite more people over and do the same thing so that we actually just even it out. Is that an option?

Leah: Well, I feel like our letter-writer doesn't want to do that. They don't want to have—they just want to see their friend.

Nick: Yeah. All right. I'm just brainstorming.

Leah: No, I think it's great to brainstorm. You could also say, "Let's meet in the middle."

Nick: "Let's meet in the middle." That could be nice. Yeah. "Can we just do something that's a two-hour drive for both of us?"

Leah: And just have dinner together.

Nick: So I don't know. Did we offer good advice here? It feels like we're a little mushy with this.

Leah: I don't feel like we're mushy. I think we said yes, you're not being petty. And then we were like, not only should you be irritated that you're paying for other people, you should be irritated that you're paying it all. We threw that in there.

Nick: Yeah, we did throw that in there.

Leah: And then we said that you could say, "Could we just go out to dinner the two of us?"

Nick: Oh, right. Yeah.

Leah: Or you could say, "Could you go out for dinner for the two of us? That would make the most sense for me financially right now."

Nick: Oh, okay. Oh, yeah. Actually, we did quite a bit with this. [laughs]

Leah: And then we also suggested that we could meet in the middle.

Nick: Okay. Yeah, all right. Great recap. So letter-writer, let us know which of these paths you picked, how it went. I'd be very curious to see how the next visit goes.

Leah: But also if people are driving to you, that counts towards the group event.

Nick: Yeah. No, that has to count for something. That cannot be ignored. And I guess that's being ignored here.

Leah: It's being ignored!

Nick: Yeah. And that should not be ignored because I love driving, I'm a native Californian. I love just hitting the road. Good soundtrack. But eight hours? Yeah, that's a—that's a substantial drive.

Leah: And I get the idea that she's doing it in one day.

Nick: I mean, I guess who cares how many days it is? It's still four hours in the car each way.

Leah: But I mean, it's not like she's going for vacation. She's just going to see her friend who's then having a full dinner party.

Nick: Although who knows what roadside attractions that may exist along the way? Big balls of twine, weird museums.

Leah: I hope there's fudge.

Nick: There's always fudge.

Leah: Because you know how I feel about fudge places.

Nick: No, the further you get away from an urban center, the more likely you're gonna see fudge.

Leah: Absolutely.

Nick: Yeah. You can't actually buy fudge in New York City. It cannot be purchased.

Leah: I just got some phenomenal fudge in South Carolina.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: I was thinking about it.

Nick: Yeah. If there was an odd pause just then, that was Leah looking wistfully up into the heavens about her recent fudge purchase.

Leah: [laughs] Oh!

Nick: Do you do nuts or no nuts?

Leah: I do no nuts.

Nick: Okay. Noted.

Leah: I feel like you do nuts.

Nick: I like hazelnuts, which is actually a very rare nut for fudge, I find. Typically, it's walnut, but if I can get a hazelnut, I'll take it.

Leah: Now I have that on my list of Nick likes.

Nick: Of my preferred nuts?

Leah: No, I have your preferred—I told you I have a gift list.

Nick: Yeah. No, I'm still waiting for that NX1 toilet.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So anytime you want to get that toilet in my hands, I'm ready for it.

Leah: I think hazelnuts is closer.

Nick: More likely?

Leah: More likely at the top.

Nick: All right. Well, I'll take what I can get. So our next question is quote ...

Leah: Can I just really quick say one more thing about our last question?

Nick: Sure.

Leah: I just had this thought that maybe our friend, because they have a young child, that this is their social time. They look forward to it as, "Oh, my friend from far away is coming, and I want to see all my friends." And obviously I can understand that feeling, but in which case, it's not a dinner between the two of you that you're splitting. So I think you could have the conversation with, "Hey, I get that you—you know, you have a young child at home, so you don't get to socialize a lot. But if we're gonna have this be a party for everybody, I need to not buy, like, such expensive food if we're sharing with everybody." That way, they can still have their party if that's what they're actually going for, but then you're not on the hook for, like, buying filet mignon for everybody.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think upon further reflection, I think we do actually want to do a nice, polite-yet-direct heart-to-heart with our friend about, like, "Hey, looking forward to our visit. I have a budget, and I need to stick with my budget, you know, because I'm driving and there's all these other expenses about getting there and that's all cool. And so for whatever we're gonna do together, like, this is what I can contribute. And so we can either just make it the two of us, or if you want to have more people, like, that's great. But I can't necessarily, like, pay half of all that." And so maybe you just say it and be like, "This is what I can do, and hopefully we can make that work."

Leah: Yeah, I think that's the best way to go, because I see how she's probably not gonna be able to come meet you halfway, and she's probably wanting to have this social event. And so the only way through this continuing to see her is to just have that conversation. Because otherwise, the resentment's just gonna build up.

Nick: Yeah. And I guess that's really what's happening here. You are resentful.

Leah: Yeah. For a very good reason.

Nick: And then what kind of friendship is based on resentment? So I think we can fix it, though. This is not unfixable.

Leah: I think so too.

Nick: But I think we just have to just state it and, like, have a heart to heart.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay. So our next question is quote, "I'm getting married soon, and my family is giving me guest list anxiety. One of my family members—let's call her Lisa—is in a fight with another one of my family members—let's call him Chad. Because of this, Lisa didn't want to attend our wedding, and I had to do some convincing because I really want her to be there. Chad had already confirmed his attendance. Lisa's husband has recently taunted Chad, making Chad now reluctant to attend our wedding. Other family members have already expressed their concern about Lisa's husband attending because they're convinced he'll make a scene. I'm now wishing I didn't try so hard to get Lisa and her husband to attend in the first place. Can I rescind their invitation, or just invite Lisa and not her husband? I'm feeling this would be quite rude, but I'm also afraid our event is going to get ruined otherwise. Please help!"

Leah: What?

Nick: [laughs] So when I got this, I did write back because this felt relatively urgent. So I'd be curious to see what you would do, and then I'll let you know what I told them to do. And then we actually got some aftermath about actually what happened.

Leah: Oh, fantastic.

Nick: So we have all of these things. So my first thought when I got this was like, can we not just be adults.

Leah: And not our letter-writer. The other people.

Nick: No, these family members.

Leah: It's also not about you. That's what I want to say to these other people. This is not about you. This is our letter-writer's wedding. You can't just be a cordial human?

Nick: Yeah. I mean ...

Leah: For a half an afternoon?

Nick: Yeah, it would be so little effort just to keep your mouth shut and just be on your best behavior. You don't have to solve any problems. You don't have to like these people. I'll even give you a you don't have to say hello if you don't want. You can be chilly. Fine. But I don't think you need to make a scene. We're worried you're gonna make a scene?

Leah: And also, the idea that you would be causing the bride so much anxiety that she's worried that you're going to ruin the wedding?

Nick: Ruin the event! Yes. Not just make it awkward or uncomfortable for some people, but actually ruin the event. The event is now ruined. That's a serious—that's serious. Yeah.

Leah: Yeah. They must be really—I mean, I can't even begin to—I mean, I can begin to imagine the way they're acting that would make a person feel that way. And then now your whole wedding is thinking, "Oh, are these people gonna behave?"

Nick: Yeah. And the word "Taunted?" I mean, what adults taunt?

Leah: What is happening right now?

Nick: I mean, no one should taunt. Children should not be taunting, right? There's no occasion when it's okay to taunt someone.

Nick: No, we do not.

Nick: No. No, definitely not. So yeah, I mean, I don't like what's happening. But it is true, once you issue an invitation, you really can't rescind it unless you got a really good reason. Like, it is considered incredibly rude to take back an invitation. So that is definitely a last resort.

Leah: But I think it's fine to reach out to them and say, "Hey, I understand there's some bad blood going on here, but if we could all please just get along. I would really like you to share this day with me. I'm feeling like now it's becoming about your relationship with each other, as opposed to celebrating my wedding day. And I would really appreciate it if we could all just get along for an afternoon." And I would want to say, "If you feel like you can't do that, I understand why you can't come."

Nick: Bingo! So we are exactly aligned. That's basically exactly what I told this person. I basically said, "You should have a polite-yet-direct conversation one-on-one with each of the people involved, and basically have that exact conversation, which is "These are my expectations for how everyone is going to behave at my wedding. If you feel like you cannot do that, I totally understand if you wouldrather not attend." And that is their choice. They can decide if they can be an adult, or if they would rather not attend and leave it to be their decision. But if they do attend, then they know the expectation is they need to be an adult, and that was the deal. And so we got some aftermath.

Leah: [gasps] Tell us!

Nick: And quote, "I just wanted to let you guys know that everything went perfect."

Leah: Ah, thank goodness!

Nick: "We had the polite-yet-direct conversation, and they suggested themselves to both be present at different parts of the day. And we had an amazing wedding." So okay, that's also a good compromise. I had not anticipated the different events, keep them in separate rooms, different locations, but that also is a possibility. But I think I'm very happy that they had the polite-yet-direct conversation, because I know those can be awkward and hard and can have a lot of anxiety, anticipating the conversation and worrying about how it's gonna go. But I think at the end of the day, it's always better than not having that conversation.

Leah: Good on you, letter-writer. And congratulations on your recent nuptials!

Nick: Yes! And best wishes. So I'm glad everybody could just suck it up and be an adult, which is easier said than done sometimes.

Leah: Yeah, I feel very relieved that this worked out.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: I don't know if our letter-writers know that I'll, like, lay awake at night sometimes and be like, "I hope that went okay and they're okay."

Nick: [laughs] I do not wake up in the middle of the night worrying about these things. I sleep very well. But congratulations and best wishes and this is wonderful. I'm glad this is a happy ending. So you out there, do you have questions for us? Oh, yes, you do! Oh, I think you have some questions for us. So we would love to hear them. Please send them to us. You can send them to us through our website, Or you can leave us voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!