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Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children

I finished Judith Martin’s “Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children” (1979) and found it to be a witty and helpful read. Though the book is full of practical advice, I am posting the following quote because I think Miss Manners’ answer is applicable to a variety of situations.

“Dear Miss Manners: I am a 29-year-old single woman. I have a career and a full life. I have not, however, yet found a suitable mate. … Nearly all of my attached friends, relatives, and even acquaintances regularly inquire how my love life is. I have been alone for several years, and the constant questions and comments about my lack of a boyfriend are becoming painful. These people mean well; the tone often leans toward actual pity. … Please, Miss Manners, what is the most polite solution to these tiresome remarks? Gentle Reader: Meaning well doesn’t cut much ice with Miss Manners when people are that thoughtlessly rude. Inquiries into the state of your private life would be out of bounds even if you were conducting a raging romance; that it is also inconsiderate of your feelings, because you are not, is merely salt in the wound. You have anticipated Miss Manners’ answers: first, that the most effective reply would be ‘Planning a divorce yet?’; second, that she will not permit you to say this; and third, that they must be reminded that the lack of a public announcement can safely be interpreted to mean that there is nothing the public – which includes your grandmother and these others, when courtship is concerned – needs to know. Practice saying, ‘I have nothing to announce – when I do, you may be sure you will be the first to hear it.’ To elderly relatives, you say this with an affectionate pat on the arm; to remote acquaintances, with a cool smile. Should anyone persist by asking, ‘Does that mean something is in the works?’ you must merely produce a cooler, forced smile (serious expression except for curled lips) and repeat, ‘It means I have nothing public to announce.’”


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