Here is a question from Victoria Baxter of Washington, D.C.:
"I attended a conference where I talked very briefly with an older man about his presentation. We exchanged cards so that he could send me more information, which I took to be one professional talking to another. However, he later emailed me and asked me out-and not in a professional kind of way. He's not an important business contact, but I feel like I have to defend my reputation. Am I supposed to set him straight or would it be better to just ignore his email?"
Hax says, "What about (treating) him like a regular guy who just asked you out? He's essentially a stranger and he caught you off-guard, but that doesn't mean what he did was creepy or even inappropriate. You were nice to him. He liked you. He took a shot. A polite 'No, thanks' should do it. If you want, you can be more definitive and say your interest was strictly professional--clarity is huge in these situations--but give his ego a fig leaf, and say you HOPE you didn't give him the wrong impression. Then he has room to claim otherwise."
From Virginia, Larisa Brenner asks:
"My father has been staying at my sister's house for a few months and he plans on staying longer. She wants to tell him that he is sort of over-staying his welcome without being rude, so my question is, how can she handle that situation?"
Hax says, "I'd handle it by moving out in the night. Two and a half months ago. The only options are to endure or speak up. Right? And enduring a bad home situation usually means that everything you don't say eventually leaks out the seams somewhere. Better for her just to tell him that she's privacy starved-and would be with anybody there for three months, it's not personal-and that it's time to make other arrangements."
Here is another question:
"My name is Marlene Ortega and I am from Dallas, Texas. My dad has
been pressuring me to settle down and get married and I do not think that I am ready yet. So what do I tell him in the meantime to get him off my back?"
Hax says, "A typical magic-bullet question. So many people ask for just the right thing to say to make an obnoxious topic go away. Thing is, the exact words are secondary here. He is showing no respect for her choices, and she's letting him get away with that by allowing herself to get dragged into the discussion. She needs to ask if he'd please respect her enough not to question her judgment on this, and then back that up by not discussing it with him."