My “work husband” and I managed to stay close even after we changed jobs. We mostly see each other on the weekends, but he really bugs my other friends. I want to invite him on our holiday ski trip; they don’t because he often makes up stories about celebrities. Not only will he have an Ariana Grande sighting (totally believable), but he takes it to another level: He and Ariana have an amazing conservation that he relays in painful detail. (Less believable.) I forgive him these lies because he’s kind and loyal. But my friends don’t. Should I say something to him? And what about the ski trip?
You put your finger on a category of lie that (while still wrong, of course) I find sympathetic. This guy probably doesn’t think he’s good enough as he is, so he makes up glittery stories to be more appealing to you. (He’s not getting anything else out of these fabricated encounters with Ariana Grande, right?) But the lies don’t enhance his prestige; they just get him vetoed from ski trips.
In my experience, the people who do this tend to be sensitive and defensive. Avoid a brusque confrontation with him: Instead of saying, “Stop this nonsense with celebrities,” try to be gentle. The next time he claims to have schmoozed with a pop star, say, “I value your kindness much more than your ability to get past Cardi B’s security guards. Do you know that?”
That may be all it takes for him to realize his miscalculation about your friendship (and that you know he’s lying). If it doesn’t, turn it up a notch. Ask him gently: “Did you really chat with Cardi B today?” If he persists with his lying, spare your friends their justifiable annoyance and see him on your own. And forget the ski trip for now. Fantasy name-dropping in the lodge is not a fun après-ski activity.
Thanks for Trying, but This Is Worse
I’m 13. My parents divorced when I was 10. My younger brother and I live with our mom, but we stay with our dad some weekends. On big holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, my parents spend the day together like they’re still married. That would be fine, but they always end up fighting with each other and make the day stressful for my brother and me. Can I say something?
Absolutely! Talk to your mom about this one night when you’re both relaxed. Give your parents credit for trying to pull off these happy family holidays. Believe it or not, they’re doing it for you and your brother.
But the fact that they fail consistently (and stress you out in the bargain) suggests a need for change, or a greater effort on their part. My hope is that by raising the issue softly, your mom won’t feel criticized but will see that she and your dad should start working on a new holiday plan.
How Did We Meet? The Way Everyone Else Does in 2018
After 22 years of not having a boyfriend, I finally do! I moved to a midsize city after college and met a great guy on a hookup app. We’ve been dating for six months, and things are going great. We come from the same state, so we’ve arranged for him to meet my family over Christmas. The problem: I’m really embarrassed that I met my first (and only) boyfriend on a hookup app. And I know “How did you meet?” will be the first question my aunts and grandmother ask. What do I do?
First, take a second to drink in the delicious headline of your story. You’re in a happy relationship, Susan! Don’t let anxiety about a simple question (or nosy aunts) spoil the good news here.
What’s more, there’s nothing wrong with hookup apps. As long as two people agree on what they’re looking for, they can be wonderful (or at least wonderfully efficient). If your grandmother were 40 years younger and lived in a midsize city, she’d probably be swiping right too. So, take it easy on yourself.
Now, back to “How did you meet?” The most important thing is to agree with your boyfriend, in advance, on how you will answer. Awkward pauses and frantic glances between you will be suspicious. If you believe “We met online” will cause disgust or coronary infarctions, say, “We met through friends.” You’re fond of your smartphones, right?
No Thank You? Then No Gifts
My teenage grandchildren have never sent us a thank-you note for any present we’ve given them. My husband and I are thinking of teaching them a lesson by skipping Christmas gifts this year. Thoughts?
Unless you believe your grandchildren can read minds, wouldn’t it be a more useful lesson to ask them for thank-you notes? I’m sorry that you and your husband feel underappreciated. But if the kids’ parents never insisted they write notes, and you never asked for them, how were your grandchildren to know?
If you expect thank-you notes, or if they are the price of admission for future gifts, tell your grandchildren. And you may as well specify whether email or text messages will suffice.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.