Dear Short Answers >> I'm finding it very difficult to navigate this new era of "sexual" correctness. I grew up in an era when it was perfectly acceptable to compliment a man or a woman on how they looked and a simple hug was not considered sexual harassment. Is there an easy way to figure this out or should I just stay at home and avoid anyone under 40?

— Endangered species

DEAR ENDANGERED >> Most people know the difference between a compliment and a come on. Similarly, most often a hug is just a hug. People who cannot tell the difference should stay home. You should continue to express yourself as you see fit.

No answers needed

Dear Short Answers >> I am a recovering alcoholic and have been doing quite well. But even after two years, some people continue to urge me to have "just one" — or worse, demand an explanation for why I no longer drink. Do I owe an explanation?

— Sober and smiling

DEAR S&S >> First, we would like to offer our hearty congratulations. Those who urge you to have "just one" either have a problem themselves, or are just plain hostile. Feel free to out them on either count. Concerning an explanation — you owe none. You might ask them why it matters.

Not joined at the hip


Dear Short Answers >> I don't want to ask a question. I want to comment on your answer to Sister Sal, whose husband did not want to go to her family reunion. You gave him a free pass to be a selfish, inconsiderate jerk toward his wife and her family.

That's what is wrong with couples nowadays. You must make concessions sometimes for the person you love. People are different, their families are different, but you took a vow of "for better or for worse."

Stop encouraging selfishness and instead encourage the love and caring that brought these two people together. My husband and I have been married 30 years and all of our closest friends have been married for that long or longer. Marriage included two people, not just one. You really dropped the ball on this one.

— Disappointed

DEAR DISAPPOINTED >> Sorry, but we stand by our answer. We think that insisting on participation of an obviously unwilling spouse is a losers game. Nobody wins. We think that respecting the other's choice is both loving and most likely to produce a happy outcome for all.

New rules

Dear Short Answers >> A good friend's son just got married. It was a small, impromptu family-only event. Am I obligated to send a gift?

— Uninvited

DEAR UN >> You are certainly not obligated to send a gift. However, if you are fond of the groom and/or know him personally, a note to the couple is a nice way of acknowledging this new life stage. If there is a party at a later date — then the hosts will let you know if it is a gifting occasion.

It's her story

Dear Short Answers >> Everything my older sister says about herself is a lie. I can't stand it anymore. What should I do?

— I was there, too

DEAR TOO >> Everyone is entitled to their own narrative. And our experience is people get very committed to their version of truth. Leave it alone.

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