Best Of

Just Behave: Singled Out

Our etiquette expert answers your questions.

BY July 5, 2019
Illustration by Edward Fotheringham

I’m single and in my 40s. I like my life and the freedom of being alone. I just find it rather annoying when my married friends exclude me from events, dinners, etc., simply because I don’t have a plus-one to bring along. I’ve asked others about this and they have different views. Some friends think it’s perfectly normal for couples to want to go out only with other couples. Another friend thinks it’s ridiculous. Who’s right? Should I feel slighted when I find out friends were gathering without me simply because I’m in my 40s and single? — Cari, Fort Myers

Dear Cari,

This isn’t Noah’s Ark we’re talking about, where inclusion takes place two-by-two. And it has nothing to do with age. I know someone twice your age who shares the same sentiments. Lots of couples do this; I think some feel it’s just more comfortable to socialize with other couples. They may think you’ll feel lonely or awkward. But, as a single person myself, I’ve been the fifth wheel at many dinners, and most of the time I fit right in. I suggest you invite this group of married friends to dinner with you. (Who says the married friends are in charge of organizing the gatherings?) Once they see you’re comfortable hanging with them, they might start including you in their dinners and realize it is OK for you to be there without a partner. It’ll add up to good times for all, no matter what number of people attend.


Our book club has met monthly for the last five years. We hold our meetings in our homes, and the homeowner is responsible for choosing the book, leading the discussion and providing light refreshments. We have one member who always comes up with an excuse not to host, so someone else always picks up her slack. She’s NEVER hosted. It’s not fair and I think she has a problem. Should I say something to her? Should we kick her out of our club?—Liz, Fort Myers

Dear Liz,

Maybe this is a better mystery than any of the books you read. Perhaps her excuses are legitimate. Perhaps she’s thoughtless. Perhaps she’s embarrassed by her home. You can’t read her mind. I’d suggest to her switching months to get a possible date or having her turn to host take place in a restaurant. If none of this works, you might conclude that she’ll never have the manners or fairness to do her part. After five years of meetings, you should know her well enough to express your deep disappointment in her never doing her part. I’d like to think this saga will end with her either stepping up or stepping out.


I live in a nice neighborhood and walk my dog daily. I’ve been doing this for more than nine years. Recently, I’ve noticed signs in the yards of two neighbors that say, “I don’t pee in your pool, so please don’t let your dog poop in our yard.” I always pick up after my dog. I’m wondering if the sign is for someone who doesn’t pick up, or if they don’t want my dog even to walk on their grass. It’s really awkward and has put me off. Is this weird, or am I too sensitive? — John, Bonita Springs

Dear John,

First of all, where can I find one of those signs? I think it’s hilarious. I don’t have a dog, so perhaps that’s why I can laugh about it and you can’t. Looks like they’re barking up the wrong tree with you. I would guess that it’s another dog in the neighborhood that’s causing them to make this stink. I’d say you’re fine, but if you need to know, tell them you’re drop-zone-sensitive, delighted to have a clear pool and wondering for whom the sign is intended. That should get this mess cleared up. 

Suzanne Willis is a hospitality consultant and the founder/CEO (Chief Etiquette Officer) of Mimi’s Manners, specializing in dining etiquette for children, teens and adults. Have a question for Suzanne? Email

Related Images: