Dear Annie: I started dating “Zach” 18 months ago and have been living with him for almost a year. Things are perfect except for one thing.
Before we met, Zach dated another girl for three years before me. She was horrible and hurtful toward him. When I began seeing Zach, his ex started harassing me to the point where I had to take out a restraining order against her.
The problem is, Zach's older sister is still in constant contact with the ex. She always talks about her in front of me and even allows the ex to baby-sit her children. She often invites the ex to go places with her and posts pictures of the two of them on Facebook.
Zach has had many fights with his sister about this, telling her how hurtful it is to both of us, yet she still continues to do it. I've tried everything possible to make his sister like me, but I can't keep competing with the ex. It's causing a strain between Zach and his sister.
I don't have issues with anyone else in his family. What can I do to get the ex out of the picture permanently?
-- The Current Woman in His Life
Dear Current: Zach's sister is doing this for one of two reasons: Either she likes getting your goat, in which case, your response is very gratifying for her. Or, she doesn't want you to dictate who her friends can be.
Either way, your response should be the same: Ignore it. If her main purpose is to annoy you, she will become bored with the tactic when she sees it has no effect. And if she is truly friends with this woman, the relationship is not your business. The added benefit of ignoring it is that Zach will be grateful. You already have his total support, and that is what counts.
Dear Annie: I recently bought my first smartphone and have yet to figure out the proper etiquette for using it in public.
I was taught that it is rude to answer one's phone when in the midst of a conversation. I believe this also goes for texting or using apps. I try to avoid using my phone while at social events. If I have to make a call or respond to a message, I excuse myself to another room.
Lately, I have noticed people using their phones in all types of situations that I would consider inappropriate.
Are these people just oblivious to the standards of respect that should be shown to others, or have the standards changed?
Is there a good set of rules to follow when using my smartphone in public? Also, how can I politely let people know that their phone use is making me feel ignored?
-- Confused College Kid
Dear College Kid: May we clone you?
Basic phone etiquette says that you do not take a call when you are with someone else. Letting it disturb your conversation indicates that the call is more important than the person you are with. If it is an emergency, excuse yourself and call back. Try not to speak too loudly. Every person around shouldn't be privy to your conversation. (It is also a safety issue in case you are giving out personal information.) If someone ignores you to answer a call or play Angry Birds, ask them nicely to please put their phone away. If they still cannot focus their attention on you, say, “I can see that you are busy. I'll talk to you later.”
Dear Annie: This is for “Torn Grandma,” who babysits for her granddaughter who may be allergic to Grandma's dog.
Perhaps Grandma could watch her granddaughter in the child's home or in a dog-free room that has an air filter running daily.
The child should be tested to be sure it's the dog that is truly the cause of her reaction.
-- Your Local Veterinarian
Contact the writer: email@example.com