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You Asked: Miss Manners

Dear Sugar,

I recently came back from a lovely family vacation. Both my brother and I brought our significant others and my parents were gracious enough to foot the bill for all four of us. My boyfriend wasn't able to stay for the entire trip, but my brother's girlfriend was with us from start to finish. I have met her two times before this trip and every time we hang out, I can count the words she mutters on two hands — including this trip.

Not only does she not add to anything to the conversations, but she never thanked my father for buying her every meal for two weeks and she never even offered to pay for a single thing! I ended up being irate for the latter half of the trip because of her ungratefulness and her lack of personality. I understand that my brother cares for her a great deal, but I just don't think my parents and I can ever look at her the same way. Help!! — Overprotecting Penny

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear Overprotecting Penny,

I am so sorry to hear that your family vacation was tarnished because of her — what a bummer, but I have to say, I'd be pretty irked too if I were you. It's extremely generous of your parents to treat your SO's to your family vacation and lack of appreciation and minimal conversation is just unacceptable if you ask me. Unfortunately. many people in this world were not taught the best manners, but there's no excuse for forgetting to say thank you.

Since this woman is your brother's girlfriend, it's not your place to say anything to her directly, but if I were you, I'd certainly speak up to your brother. If you don't want to cause too much drama, just simply tell him how disappointed you were in his girlfriend's manners and suggest that she at least sends your parents a thank you note if not a thank you gift.

I hope you were at least able to enjoy part of your family vacation and now that you're all back home, if you still don't hear a peep from her, perhaps she just shouldn't be invited next time around. I hope I was of some help.


Join The Conversation
jazzytummy jazzytummy 8 years
If you're so shy, why do you agree to go on vacation with your boyfriend's family for two weeks? If you are that shy, usually Sunday dinner is nightmare enough. I agree with those who said that even if she is shy, she could have mustered up some common courtesy. The OP should butt out though...if the girlfriend is a freeloader and a user, her brother will find out soon enough on his own, and he can make his own decisions.
Tiffinynabors Tiffinynabors 9 years
I agree with jJuliet. B/c I think you sound very judgmental. You dont know if she told your parents thank you or not or told your brother to tell them.
corona528 corona528 9 years
I sounds like she has my problem - I get terribly nervous around my boyfriend's family. I'm usually very social but I clam up in their presence. While it's not polite for your brother's girlfriend to not say "Thank you" for the vacation, I really don't think you should judge her on her social skills. Give her time to relax and open up. Please try not to be so critical of others. Be nice.
Green Green 9 years
she is down right rude and ungrateful which will be problematic if he keeps her around, maybe it won't work out.
addiepi addiepi 9 years
If she doesn't attempt to express some sort of gratitude to your parents in a timely fashion (give it a couple weeks) then a talk with your brother might be in order. She might be incredibly shy and socially awkward or conversely she might just be uncouth and unaware of her misstep and that most people would find her behavior unacceptable. If that is the case you don't want to make her feel bad about her ignorance. You want to foster a healthy relationship and maybe help her come out of her shell and/or come into good manners. My favorite ideal from my readings on etiquette is that manners are not intended to snub a person or show how much better of a person you are than someone else; they're intended to show the people around you that you respect them. So please, whatever you do, do so kindly and with thought to both you brother and his girlfriend's feelings. There may be delicate, unforeseen issues and it would be quite rude and inconsiderate of you to act on the assumption that her behavior was intentionally offensive.
clarapl clarapl 9 years
It's roommate, who is a really sweet girl, was just complaining to me last night about how "rude" and stuck-up her brother's girlfriend is, and how she hates her. And I've always gotten along with the family/friends of whomever I've dated...UNTIL I went out with a guy with a sister. She HATED me, and I still have no idea why. It's actually one of the reasons I broke up with him. His family is very close (one of the reasons I first liked him, ironically!) so we spent a lot of time with her, and I the whole Jr. High dynamic got to be too much for me. I'm not saying this girl's behavior was the greatest, but seriously--do sisters EVER like their brother's girlfriends?!
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 9 years
well im pretty shy also. HOWEVER my mama raised me well enough to know how to be polite.
citizenkane citizenkane 9 years
citizenkane citizenkane 9 years
I'm sorry, but if my boyfriend's family invited me on a 2 week vacation and paid for everything, I would figure out a way to be nice. If she is shy, then she shouldn't have accepted the invitation. I'd be mad too if my parents had forked out money and she acted ungrateful and quiet. I can't stand quiet people. Talk...BE NICE. Shyness is not an excuse for bad manners. That's what is wrong with people today. Too many excuses for a lack of repsect.
CoMMember13630786602261 CoMMember13630786602261 9 years
Ok, just because someone doesnt say much, doesnt mean they have no personality. When my boyfriend and I first got together his family didnt like me because they thought I was stuck up because I didnt talk to them very much. It had very little to do with being stuck up or "dull" and more to do with the fact that I am extremely shy. Now I have known them for 5 years, and they pretty much consider me a daughter ( i cant tell you how many times they have suggested we get married and/or start having babies) Just give her a chance and dont be so critical of her, that will only make her feel more isolated from your family. If your brother loves her, than just be accepting of her and Im sure she will come around.
MisterPinkNoTip MisterPinkNoTip 9 years
She sounds shy/nervous. That doesn't excuse her lack of manners, but I wouldn't be so harsh on her if I were you.
thewavingcat thewavingcat 9 years
i bet she was just nervous and shy. poor girl!
jJuliet jJuliet 9 years
I feel really sorry for your brother's girlfriend. When I was reading the advice given above, I cringed every time someone called this poor girl a bitch. I know what it feels like to be staying with your boyfriend's parents who obviously dislike you, yet expect you to be talkative, pleasant and thankful. I was in a similar situation a few years back, when I worked near my boyfriend's house for the summer and stayed with his family during some weekends. I am usually a very gregarious person, but I didn't get along all that well with my boyfriend's family. I felt like when I had something to add to the conversation, they wouldn't let me get a word in (and it would be rude to interrupt). I tried to just be nice and give a lot of compliments, but then they started making fun of me for giving too many compliments. I sometimes offered to pay for meals, but they would always insist on paying (they are very well-off). They were also people who LOVE to be thanked. For example, the mother would thank the father several times for paying for dinner at a restaurant. In my family, my parents view their money as shared, so they wouldn't thank each other for something like that. I did thank my boyfriend's parents for many things, profusely, in my opinion, but my boyfriend would always hint that I needed to thank them some more for some other thing that they felt I had taken for granted. The pressure and criticism made me clam up whenever they were around. It never occurred to me that my shyness came across as having bad manners. I just didn't want to say the wrong thing, or they would make fun of me. Eventually, I just wouldn't say anything. Then, they started thinking I was really weird and unappreciative because I was being so quiet. Even though it's been almost three years, and I am still dating my boyfriend, his parents and I don't really talk.
chutzpah chutzpah 9 years
I think everyone is over-reacting here in the wrong way. Yes, she might be shy but if she couldn't handle a vacation with the family she shouldn't have accepted the invitation. Could she have used this opportunity to get away and have someone else pay for everything? Was she brought up so badly that she doesn't know that she should pay for a lunch, dinner or at least a round of cocktails in order to show some sort of appreciation? Obviously you come from a well-to-do family so I'm sure money wasn't the issue...offering to pay for something is just the correct thing to do. Did your boyfriend pay for anything? I assume the answer is yes or you wouldn't be so angry. Maybe your parents don't want to deal with this sounds like it would be a waste of their time. Don't people WRITE thank you notes anymore or have we all turned into a generation of emailing only? she might have thanked your parents when you weren't around but flowers or a card once home would have been the proper thing to do. I rest my case! Now all of you can get on mine if you think I'm in the wrong!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I agree with everything Mandy Said.
courtneyh courtneyh 9 years
ditch the bitch. sounds like a bad case of false sense of entitlement. and obviously she wasn't raised well if she can't say please and thankyou. bad manners is genetic don't let her marry your brother, ha!
omilawd omilawd 9 years
Have you ever considered that she might be shy? I'm sure she has plenty of personality after you get to know her, otherwise your brother wouldn't really have a reason to be with her. Talk to your brother about the situation if it bothers you so much (I like popgoestheworld's suggestion on how to bring it up), but other than that, it's not really your place to do anything. Sorry.
Wow, good thing your family doesn't run your relationships like you are trying to run your brother's. This doesn't concern you, and it seems like the only reason it bothered you is because your man didn't stay the whole time and benefit as much from your family trip. She is out of her element when around your family, no big deal, apparently, since it doesn't bother your brother. Ever heard of being shy? You seem to be a pretty judgemental for her to dive into a friendship with.
erratic-assassin erratic-assassin 9 years
she's just a girlfriend...maybe they wont work out, she'll go away and then you can pop ur bottle of Korbel. give her a break. and who said u had to like her? as long as your brother is given love and respect, how is she hurting you? you're not a bitch...u just love your brother and want your parents to be appreciated as much as you appreciate them. suck it up and get over being the better person.
reeeeka reeeeka 9 years
You don't like her so you're picking at her lack of personality and lack of response to your parents kind gestures to hate her even more? Were you with your parents and your brother and his girlfriend 24/7? Did you guys stay in a hotel? If so...maybe she said thank you on the way to their room. Maybe she said thank you at the end of the trip and you just didn't hear? Meeting your boyfriends family is a nerve racking experience. Add on the fact that it's not in a place that she's comfortable (like at home), the fact that she could probably feel your negative vibes, your parents paying for everything, she's shy all adds up and probably just stumped her. Why not make nice with her and TRY to be her's easier to hate someone then to love them but I'm sure if you make an effort you'll get to know the person your brother loves. My ex was incredibly quiet but once he got to know people he wouldn't shut assuming if you give her a chance she'll suprise you. Stop being a bitch and give the girl a break.
gossipqueen gossipqueen 9 years
Have you thought that she can feel how much you dislike her???? You sound like a downright bitch to me.... Some people are very shy... especially when is the significant other's family... Are you sure she didn't thank them at all??? maybe she told your brother to thank your parent for her... I sure hope I'm not a territorial bitch with my siblings...or kids....
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
It sounds like she is very nervous! Cut her some slack and maybe speak to your brother about her. Maybe she thanked your parents when you weren't around?
clareberrys clareberrys 9 years
You said that you have only met her 2 times before this time. That is not very much time to get to know someone. Maybe she does not feel comfortable enough around your family to jump into the conversation or to add her two cents or make jokes. I was this way for a while with my boyfriend's family and the more I see them the more open I become. Give her a break on that end. Maybe she doesn't have a lack of personality, but it just hasn't had a chance to shine through yet! Regardless of that, she should have said thank you because those are the easier words to mutter. BUt I agree with the people said it is not your place. If your parents felt like it was rude of her then they can say something to your brother or directly to her. You do not want this to make things bad between you and your brother and you never know how long they will really last. SO just take a deep breath and try to forget about it. Maybe if it happens on another occasion then you can say something to your parents about it.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
People should do things because they want to do them, not because they want or EXPECT even as much as a thank-you. Sure, it's good manners and polite, but her LACK of manners doesn't excuse your own behavior. We are polite not based on others' personalities, but our own. Honestly, you don't seem like a very understanding or compassionate person. You are likely angry because your boyfriend couldn't stay and enjoy the generosity of your parents, while she could, and then didn't express her gratitude as well as YOU thought she should have. She sounds dreadfully shy or anxiety-ridden. Your brother obviously sees another side to her, and if you think not, then you don't think much of your brother, do you? Who would be with someone like that unless they know another side of her? For the sake of argument, let's say she's a vile, horrendously RUDE and selfish person. What's it to you? Seriously - unless she is corrupting your brother, why do you even care? How do your parents really feel about this? You allowed yourself to become so upset it ruined your beautiful vacation and time with your family, but did they? I hope you can look past whatever is making you bitter and angry and see her for who she is.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
This is definitely your brothers problem and he needs to address her bad manners. If your parents are as upset as you say THEY should be the ones to say something to your brother about the girlfriends lack of a Thank you. I see no problem with asking him if she had a good time because she was so quiet. Being shy is no excuse for rudeness I don't care who you are!
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