There are too many excellent advice columns to keep up with, so we're committed to bringing you links to the best advice column questions and answers every week. Here's a roundup of the most interesting, thought-provoking and surprising questions that our favorite columnists addressed in recent days.
How Can I Force All My Son's Classmates To Call Him 'Andrew' Instead Of 'Andy'?
I love my 7-year-old son's name, "Andrew," but I hate the nickname "Andy." When we named him "Andrew" we agreed to only use the long version and never the nickname…
We moved over the summer, and somehow he has become "Andy" in his new school! …
My son doesn't care whether people call him Andrew or Andy. I spoke to him about correcting people when they call him the wrong name, and we've practiced what he should say, but he is not an assertive kid, and I doubt he is correcting people often.
I made an appointment with the teacher to discuss the situation. She apologized and said that she would call him Andrew and speak with the "specials" teachers to make sure that they call him Andrew as well. She said she would make one class announcement, but that otherwise she will not correct students for calling him Andy.
As you can imagine, this has been totally ineffective. All the kids are still calling him Andy. I made another appointment with the teacher, but she was not helpful. She said that Andrew never objects to being called Andy and sometimes even introduces himself as Andy (I don't know whether or not this is true). To me, this is irrelevant. He is 7 years old, I am his mother, and I get to decide what people call him. She is not willing to correct the other students in the moment when they call him Andy. I would like to take this matter to the principal. My husband feels like I'm overreacting… If we don't get this under control now, he will be "Andy" for the rest of his life! Help!
Matthew Dicks argues that the teacher and the letter writer have little to no control over what Andrew's classmates call him. "The truth is that your son's friends, classmates, teammates, and many other people in this world will continue to call him Andy until he decides that he wants to be called Andrew," he writes. Read the rest of his answer.
Am I Obligated To Go Out On Pretend Dates With My Friend When He's Cross-Dressing?
My best friend and I are both male and 25. We've been friends since third grade. We were apart for four years of college and two years after because we were employed in different states. He has now been transferred and lives and works a few miles from where I do. We see each other frequently and often double date.
He recently shared a secret after pledging me to secrecy. He's a cross-dresser. He says he's not gay, and I believe him. He has pictures he had taken professionally in which he is completely feminine and even beautiful. He says he has been dressing up since the age of 12.
Abby, he wants to go out in public with me as a couple. Even though he is small and would easily pass, I'm just not into it. And what explanation would I give to my girlfriend? He says if I won't, I'm not a true friend; I say he isn't. Is there any way to resolve this?
Abigail Van Buren offers an ostensibly practical solution. "How about you and he and your girlfriend going out together?" she asks. "Of course, your girlfriend would have to know the truth, and your friend would have to be OK with her knowing." Read the rest of her answer.
Why Do People Ignore My Unsolicited, Transactional Emails?
I like to reach out to former co-workers, former bosses, and former acquaintances from time to time to keep in touch so as not to lose a possible connection.
Sometimes the conversation is lovely and it's nice to hear about a person's life once or twice a year… However, about a third of the time, I never hear back.
It's hard to know why some people don't respond. I've been told in the past that I can rub people the wrong way, and I have reached out to a few people expressly to apologize for professional disagreements we had previously. I let go of past personal and professional problems very quickly because life is too short to hold grudges.
Amy, I don't understand the satisfaction somebody gets over ignoring these quick "How're you doing" messages.
If someone is angry or thinks I'm a terrible person, why can't they just tell me?
It would take five seconds to say, "I don't think we really got along, and I wasn't very fond of you as a co-worker." I would just respond, "I'm sorry you feel that way" and then remove that person permanently from my Rolodex. Piece of cake! Instead, I imagine they just delete my email or text without reading it just because my name is attached.
Do you have any suggestions? Should I be more persistent until I get some sort of a response?
Amy Dickinson explains that silence is an answer. "Your insistence that people are obligated to respond honestly — even if they think you are a terrible person — is putting the burden on someone whose only crime is to be in your Rolodex," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.
Was It Reasonable To Expect My Friend Struggling With Infertility To Accompany Me To My Abortion?
I've made a difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy, as my boyfriend and I have decided this is not a good time for us to have children. It's been a really hard decision to make and a very emotional time. My boyfriend can't be there, as he has to work during my termination appointment (he is paid hourly). I asked my best friend, "Susan," to come with me, since she works from home and makes her own hours. Last year, Susan stopped doing IVF after a few unsuccessful rounds. She and her husband have decided not to have kids and have seemed happy since making that decision. Susan told me that she supported me but couldn't come to my appointment. I told her that my decision has nothing to do with her situation, and this led to a heated fight on the phone followed by silence. I feel abandoned and judged. I was there for her many ups and downs during her IVF treatments, and now that I need support, she can't be there for me. I don't know how or if I should reconnect with her.
Daniel Mallory Ortberg urges the letter writer to try to see things from Susan's perspective. "It's reasonable for her to say she doesn't think she can maintain her composure or offer you the support you need during an abortion when her own fertility struggles have been so recent and so painful, and it's best that she was honest with you in advance about her own limits so you could make other arrangements," he writes. Read the rest of his answer.
Should I Tell Hiring Managers That I Quit My Old Company Because It Turned Into A Porn Site?
I went to work for a start-up company that said they were aiming to be a girl-power, female-focused website. I was a bit underpaid, but it was okay because I was learning a lot, logging big accomplishments, and getting all kinds of new things to put on my resume.
Then the CEO decided they could make more money if they became a porn site. Not a classy porn site ... a sleazy porn site with ads promoting sleazy prescription drug companies. I'm fine with ethical porn, but this is not ethical — and I would not want a porn company on my resume due to the negative effects on my future employment.
This goes completely against my values, so I quit. But what do I do with my resume? I don't want to point anyone to the company because yeesh. The CEO has offered to be a reference but I'm concerned about being linked to the site, and in addition she is noticeably drunk on phone calls about 10% of the time, which is a higher percentage than I'm comfortable with.
Alison Green encourages the letter writer to list the job on their resume and to be straightforward about the circumstances under which they left the company in interviews. "Don't list the website address if it now contains porn, but there's often a company name that's separate from the web address," she writes. "That's what you want." Read the rest of her answer.
How Should I Respond When People Ask Me Where I Live?
I live in a city famous for the nouveau riche materialism of many residents. When I meet such people, their inevitable first question is, "Where do you live?"
I think of this as the "doggie-sniffing-new-doggie question." It's a puerile form of "conversation" and a crude attempt to discern net worth, social status and the desirability of my acquaintance.
I have been handling it this way:
Them: Where do you live?
Me: In City.
Them: Well, of course; WHERE in City?
Me: Central City.
Them: Where specifically?
Me: Neither north, nor far north, nor south; Central.
Them: What is the nearest landmark? What are the cross streets?
Since they are so dogged, how may I answer to shut them down? I've an address in another city and am considering, "My legal address is in That City. Do you need the P.O. Box?"
I'm very tempted, at their first question, to say with a big smile, "Oh, you're asking the 'doggie-sniffing-new-doggie question!'" And repeat that every time they try to pry.
Also, such people never, but never, discuss their own addresses.
Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and Jacobina Martin note that the letter writer is passing quite a bit of judgment on their interlocutors. "Some of them might just be looking for common ground on which to converse," they write. "Miss Manners notices that the benefit of the doubt is in short supply these days." Read the rest of their answer.