My late father’s sister, who lives abroad, sends me extravagant items for Christmas. My dad and mom used to reciprocate on my behalf once I was a child, however now that I’m in my 20s, I purchase and ship the items myself. The issue: It’s overwhelming! We don’t know one another nicely or communicate the identical language. I really feel responsible that she’s spending cash she doesn’t have on stuff I by no means use. And I really feel foolish spending cash on issues I don’t know that she’s going to like. Once I ask for present concepts, she tells me I don’t must ship a present. I’ve tried to ascertain new practices, like exchanging Google-translated vacation letters. She at all times does what I ask, then sends a flowery current on high. How do I get her to cease?
Let me guarantee you that the crux of your query is sort of widespread. Many readers lengthy to present detailed directions to others about how (or whether or not) they prefer to obtain items: greenback limits, sugar content material, thread depend, soaked in rum or by charitable donation. I believe we should always cease attempting to manage different folks. Simply thank your aunt for her kindness and transfer alongside.
I don’t know the place you bought the concept that you need to match her items, greenback for greenback. You don’t! A Google-translated vacation letter from a younger relative sounds good. And you will have missed the central, emotional dynamic right here: Your aunt in all probability buys you items as an expression of affection in your father, her late brother. Why intrude with that? (And why not let her determine what she will be able to afford?)
Now, you can also make a case that it’s dangerous to the atmosphere to bundle and ship items abroad, or that the cash can be higher spent elsewhere, however sending a number of items a yr is small potatoes. I do know it may be awkward to obtain random presents, however bear in mind: Each present is bilateral; it has a giver and a receiver. So, hold your aunt in thoughts, too. These items could imply lots to her.
This Sugar Mama Is Unsweetened
I met an escort on a courting app. We met for espresso. He was very good — an individual one want to be buddies with. We agreed to communicate, maybe see a ballet collectively. Later, he despatched a message asking if I’d be keen to pay him an allowance. I informed him he appeared like an important individual, however I wasn’t comfy with that. (You in all probability suppose I’m an fool! That’s how sugar mama and daddy preparations work.) Then he texted again, saying he would nonetheless prefer to spend time with me as buddies. Ought to I belief him?
Earlier than anybody will get too judgy right here, let’s acknowledge that every one of us search qualities in companions that strike our specific fancy: magnificence, intelligence, wealth, kindness or energy, to call a number of. Particular trade-offs fluctuate by couple, however is anybody shocked, as an example, to see a 70-year-old C.E.O. with a fairly spouse 30 years his junior?
To this point, the person from the app has been direct with you. He requested for an allowance, you refused, and he stated he nonetheless needs to be buddies. Will I be shocked if he makes one other monetary proposal down the highway? Probably not. However in case you are nonetheless inquisitive about friendship with him, invite him to the ballet and see what occurs.
Household Till Additional Discover
My brother and his fiancée known as off their wedding ceremony this summer season, however they’re nonetheless courting. He confided in a number of members of the family that he plans to interrupt up along with her. However that was 5 months in the past! Now, we face the vacations. We would like to not spend time with the sort-of-ex-fiancée. It’s awkward figuring out concerning the pending breakup and seeing this girl with whom all of us have a troublesome relationship (a contributing issue within the supposed breakup). How can we broach this with my brother?
Gosh, the royal “we” is resounding right here! In case your brother remains to be courting this girl 5 months after canceling their wedding ceremony, isn’t it potential that they love one another and try to work issues out (regardless of his unsupportive household)? I recommend saying nothing to him and behaving kindly to her.
When your brother has an announcement to make about his relationship, he’ll. His love life is none of your enterprise, although, and for those who press too exhausting, you might drive him away. (Simply ask Prince Harry.)
Cease It, You’re Making Me Blush
I’m shocked to be writing to you. I hate recommendation columns, however my sister is a fan of yours. And he or she actually likes your ebook and TV references. Are you able to recommend a novel that I can provide to her for Christmas?
How may I refuse you — after such a rousing piece of fan mail? Probably the most pleasant novel I learn this yr — recent and stunning — was “Classes in Chemistry”: a fish-out-of-water story a few feminist hero who by no means stops pushing for what’s proper. (I laughed out loud!) For backup: “Lucy by the Sea,” which in some way synthesizes the emotional dislocations of the pandemic sooner than I’d have thought humanly potential.
For assist along with your awkward scenario, ship a query to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Fb or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.