Social Q’s: How Do I Get Off the Mailing List … of a Family Member?


Hugging It Out

I am a guy in my late 30s who works in marketing at a small gaming company. A much younger co-worker, also male, has a habit of hugging me every day when he comes in. I don’t like it. I confess I’d be less bothered if this colleague was a woman. But don’t I have some say in whether I am hugged or not?


Paging Jerry Seinfeld, whose refusal to be hugged by the singer Kesha spurred endless coverage on my news feed recently. Honey (and I use the term advisedly), you don’t have to hug anyone you don’t want to. Your spontaneous confession of disliking physical contact with men seems gratuitous, but who cares? Next time, say, “I’m not one for hugging.” Then high-five or fist-bump or do whatever doesn’t bruise your tender masculinity. He’s just trying to be a friendly bro.

B.F.F.s and I.O.U.s

My best friend and I have been best friends for 40 years. We met in kindergarten. He is hard-working but has had an awful run of luck. I have been very fortunate; my wife and I have more money than we could ever spend. My friend asked for a loan. The sum is large, but it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to us. I would like to give it to him as a one-time gift. My wife objects to a gift or loan. She says it will ruin my relationship with him (and if not mine, hers). What should I do?


I am touched by your generosity and sense of perspective. That said, you are in a pickle. I disagree with your wife. But as your partner, she has to be on board. (No secret gifts!) So try again. Make a case for the importance of your friend to you and the irrelevance of the money (in the big picture). Promise her this will be a one-time event. Maybe she’ll go for it. If not, ask about a smaller sum. If she still won’t budge, explain your wife’s worry to your pal. With luck, he will understand that you tried your best.

Communication Breakdown

My husband’s brother and his family moved across the country last year. We didn’t know because they never told us. We’ve had no communication with them for nearly two years. I tried to friend my sister-in-law on Facebook, but she didn’t respond. Then, out of the blue, we received a graduation announcement that was “sent” by their daughter. Should I send a card and gift, or see if they send a card to my daughter first?


Your use of quotation marks around the word “sent” makes me think you suspect some nefarious plot. I, on the other hand, actually believe that your niece sent you the graduation announcement. Haven’t your brother- and sister-in-law made it pretty clear that they want nothing to do with you?

Your niece may feel differently. Perhaps she has fonder memories. (I will get lots of mail informing me that she is merely scrounging for a gift, but we don’t know that.) And I’m not sure why you would condition responding to her on your in-laws’ behavior toward your daughter. Did she send them an announcement? I suggest acting like an adult and mailing a sincere note of congratulations to your niece. Gift optional.

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