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Monday question: Cousin It

Posted by Robin Abrahams  June 18, 2012 09:12 AM

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Good morning! Here's today's question:

I try to be tolerant of people's quirks because none of us are perfect. However, I have a cousin whose table manners include licking his plate, sticking his finger in his nose, talking with food in his mouth and eating salad and olives with his fingers. My cousin does not have any medical condition that can explain this behavior. He has a Ph.D. and he is in his 60s. Am I required to accept invitations to dine at his house because I am his cousin? If I am allowed to repeatedly decline such invitations, what would be a polite and kind thing to say when he asks for a reason? Is there a better way to deal with this situation than just avoiding him?

What do you all think?

I'll post my response Friday (and I'll get my tardy response in to last week's question today). And are there cousins, coworkers, confederates in your life who are driving you bananas? Write to me -- or, save it for a live chat this Wednesday!

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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Curious if you should say "bless you" to a sneezing atheist? How to host a dinner party for carbophobes, vegans, and Atkins disciples—all at the same time? The finer points of regifting? Ask it here, or email missconduct@globe.com.

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