Just Behave

Just Behave: Get the Picture

Our etiquette expert answers your questions.


I have a friend who can’t seem to tell me a story without showing me photos on her phone. Every few seconds she has to stop and say, “Look at this!” and then scroll endlessly through photos before she finds the one(s) I “must” view. I find it incredibly annoying. How can I tell her that I’m not interested in photos? —Maryann, Fort Myers

Dear Maryann,

Look your friend in the eye (and not at her phone). Tell her you’re hanging on her every word. Celebrate her storytelling that doesn’t even need photos to capture the moment or moments. Say, “Sure, a photo or two might help, just so long as it doesn’t break the momentum of the narrative.” She should feel free to talk with her hands but not with her phone images found after long searches. Good luck getting back to life’s basics with person-to-person communication.


I gave my friend a piece of jewelry I designed for her birthday. I was absolutely shocked when I saw another person wearing it. It’s one-of-a-kind, so I know that my friend gave it to this person! I thought my friend loved my art. She told me she loved it when I gave it to her. I designed it with her in mind. Why was this other “friend” wearing it? My feelings are hurt. —​ Ruth, Marco Island

Dear Ruth,

Maybe there were good reasons your friend let someone else have or borrow your creation. Perhaps it was an act of generosity for someone who needed a special boost. Or, it’s possible your friend loved the piece but just didn’t feel it was right for her ensembles. In any case, it’s her right to do whatever she wants with the gift. Dwell on the joy you had in creating it and the praise you got when delivering it. Life has its mysteries, so just smile and move on with this one unsolved but not lamented. After all, someone out there is wearing the piece and happy to do so.


I’ve been invited out to dinner with a friend, and she always insists on bringing her dog. I love her dog and don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I’d prefer we leave the dog at home. She talks to her dog during dinner, and her dog barks, too. Is there a nice way to let her know that I don’t want to dine with them both? — Julia, Naples

Dear Julia,

A dog may be man’s best friend but not necessarily the best dining partner in restaurants. I’d first suggest holding out for places that don’t allow dogs. Or, meet her when you’re both up for a little yappy hour. Just don’t call her out about this problem. Pets are family, and, if she’s single, that might be her only family. Remember that your friendship comes first with her, and try to find the least intrusive ways for the dog to be part of it.

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