Editor's Note: Annie Lane is off this week. The following column was originally published in October 2016.
Dear Annie: I recently went on vacation with my mom, stepdad and siblings. We went to the river where my stepdad has been going for about 30 years. Everyone else in the community has been going there every year for just as long, if not longer. Now, my mom and stepdad met each other while they were married, and, well, you can put the rest together. Many families we know have taken sides ever since, so being the daughter, I'm no stranger to weird vibes in social situations and people choosing sides.
Upon meeting the rivergoers, I quickly realized that some of them were on my stepdad's ex-wife's side. How did I know? They avoided talking to us and didn't invite us to partake in group watersport activities. In one case, after I introduced myself, the woman looked at me, scoffed and walked away. There were plenty of nice people, though, so we still had a great time.
This isn't something I take personally. The situation has nothing to do with me, and the affair happened six years ago. If they're getting all hung up about something that's not even their business, that's their problem. But I never know whether I should stand up for myself, kill them with kindness or just ignore them. What do you think? -- Boating With Baggage
Dear Boating: It sounds as if you're expert at navigating these treacherous rapids, so kudos. It's incredibly mature of you not to take the antics of your stepdad's ex-wife's friends personally. The bitterness and resentment they're holding on to is only dragging them down.
Continue being pleasant in the face of their ugly attitudes. Pretend you're oblivious to their bad vibes. They can scoff until they're blue in the face. But don't be a doormat, either. If one of them says something outright rude to you, you have a right to stand up for yourself.
Dear Annie: What is the etiquette concerning who pays for a date these days? I am realizing I may be a bit old-fashioned, as I still think that a man should pick up the check at least the first few times he goes out with someone. I've been on three dates with a guy recently, and we've split it every time.
For our first date, he picked out an expensive restaurant that I would never normally go to, as it's way out of my price range. I assumed he would only invite me to such an expensive place if he planned on covering the bill.
Before I was seeing him, I dated a man for about six months, and we always split everything, too. If I didn't have cash on me, he expected me to pay him back later.
I work full time and can support myself, and I don't need or expect anyone to spoil me. But I still appreciate small gestures of chivalry. Am I out of step with the times? -- Halfsies
Dear Halfsies: A good rule, widely used today, is that the person who does the asking does the paying -- at least on the first date. So, if this man asked you out, it would be courteous of him to pay, and vice versa.
After the first date, going Dutch is commonplace. But there's nothing wrong with treating your significant other to dinner occasionally, just as a nice gesture, regardless of gender.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.