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Today's column

Posted by Robin Abrahams  April 14, 2013 10:59 AM

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... is online here. The first question deals with a friend who has given an ultimatum--either stop socializing with my ex-wife, or I'm outtie. My thoughts on ultimatum-givers:
[W]hen a person pulls the "me-or-X" routine, then as healthy individuals with boundaries and all that good stuff, you really ought to think about sticking with X. Why? Because X isn't trying to control your lives. 
Sometimes, of course, X is in fact trying to control your life. If X is an addiction or an abusive family member or an illness you refuse to address, then "It's me or X!" coming from a friend or partner invested in your well-being should be a wake-up call. But in those situations, "Me" is trying to save you--not him- or herself--from "X."
Have you ever had to pull an "It's me or X" ultimatum? Ever had one pulled on you? 

Later this month, I'll be reviewing Lionel Shriver's new novel, Big Brother, for Already Pretty. From the publisher's description: 

For Pandora, cooking is a form of love. Alas, her husband, Fletcher, a self-employed high-end cabinetmaker, now spurns the "toxic" dishes that he'd savored through their courtship, and spends hours each day to manic cycling. Then, when Pandora picks up her older brother Edison at the airport, she doesn't recognize him. In the years since they've seen one another, the once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened? After Edison has more than overstayed his welcome, Fletcher delivers his wife an ultimatum: It's him or me.

Ms. Shriver is one of my favorite novelists--always surprising, always energetic. This book sounds like it will be a kind of Miss Conduct literary perfect storm!
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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

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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