Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 9 November 2017

Also: How to deal with those overdue ‘thank-yous’ and taking on a pompous maître d’

Q. We have a family friend we don’t see nearly as much as we’d like. This is because he’s so near perfect — clever, funny, civilised, and also single with an interesting job — that he’s in great demand as a guest. When we do bag him before somebody else does we adore his company and he clearly enjoys ours.

My gripe is that I’ve realised he’s been coming to stay with us for 30 years, either in houses we’ve rented abroad, in Scotland or just as a weekend guest at home, yet has never invited us to lunch, the cinema or even for a walk. This is nothing to do with a return of hospitality; he’s not in a position to ask us back and he’s generous with presents.

It’s that he seems happy not to see me for months at a time unless I initiate something. I just feel there is an inequality of enthusiasm which needs to be addressed. But I don’t want to give the impression that I am bitter or harbouring a grudge.
— Name and address withheld

A. Don’t take it personally. Such bachelors are often emotionally illiterate. Demand having made them socially passive, it ceases to occur to them that they should initiate contact. It would be a kindness were you to help this near-perfect man become even better-rounded. Collude with a mutual friend who will be seeing him soon. During a private moment she can raise your name, adding: ‘So how did the confrontation go?’

When he replies, ‘What?’ she can say, ‘Oh, she’s rather hurt you never try to see her unless she invites you to stay. Oh,don’t worry, she must have thought better of it. But is it true you never initiate contact? Why is that?’

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