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Does My Boyfriend Like Me, or Does He Like That I’m a Twin?

I’ve been seeing a nice guy since I moved to town this summer. From the beginning, he has been very interested in the fact that I have a twin sister. (She doesn’t live here.) When he invited me to spend Christmas with his family, he invited me to bring my twin. After I said she couldn’t make it, he told me his mom was worried about having too many people at the house while Omicron surged. He asked if I could come another time. My friend says he’s clearly a creep with a thing for twins. Your thoughts?


If my partner were a twin, I would be interested in his experience and ask questions about it. Having a twin is a big part of your life, right? I also believe that his mother’s concern about Omicron was well-placed and probably had nothing to do with your sister’s R.S.V.P.

But frankly, it makes no difference what I (or your friend) think. Talk to your boyfriend if you’re concerned that his interest in your twin is unhealthy. So far, though, I haven’t heard any evidence of it.

For several years now, my husband has been 100 percent responsible for dinner. He shops, cooks and cleans up afterward. I love it! The problem: Cooking is a creative outlet for him. He loves to experiment and rarely follows recipes, which often leads to meals I don’t like. Occasionally, they are downright unpalatable. I’ve tried dropping hints about how much I love the old-fashioned dishes I ate as a child. He continues to experiment, though. And the pandemic has meant that we eat at home more frequently, which gives him even more time to try new things. Any advice?


It seems odd to me that you’re tiptoeing around your husband like this, “dropping hints” rather than speaking to him directly about your meals. If I were a betting man, I would wager that this is because you don’t want to upset the current division of labor in your household. You simply want your husband to act more like a short-order cook.

Unfortunately, that’s not how this works. As the resident shopper and cook at my house, I can report that it’s not a barrel of fun repeating my (limited) repertoire of meals night after night. The unspoken bargain at your place may be that your husband is willing to assume total responsibility for dinner (including cleanup!) as long as he can cook freely.

If you want this to change, speak up! Tell your husband you appreciate his hard work, but you’d like to eat more simply. Give him an idea of the dishes you’d prefer and ask if you can help him. Now, clipping his wings (and possibly his pleasure) like this may lead to a larger discussion about division of labor — or your husband may be open to compromise and special requests. No risk, no reward!

Our new neighbors accidentally backed their car into ours while we were parked on the street. They came over immediately to apologize and give us their insurance information. We assured them it was not a big deal and told them we’d report it to our insurance company. The next day, they dropped off holiday cookies, a bottle of wine and a card with $100 inside it. We feel uncomfortable with the cash. Their insurance company is covering the damage, and our car is still drivable. Would it be rude to return the $100?


I agree that the cash was an awkward — though probably well-intentioned — addition to their holiday-slash-apology gift basket. And even though it’s often more generous to simply accept the strange gifts people give us, here, I wouldn’t. Taking cash sets an odd tone for your relationship with your new neighbors.

Send a thank-you note for the cookies and wine and return the cash. Tell them you appreciate the gesture, but their insurance is covering the bill. Then push past the accident into new terrain: Invite them for a glass of wine (if you can do that safely) or perhaps a walk around the neighborhood if you’d like to know them better.

I’ve become friendly with a woman in my apartment building. Occasionally, we meet up for shopping or other activities. She always has her cellphone with her and checks every beep, ding and alert, often interrupting our conversation. She is especially focused on texts from her adult daughter who has a husband, job and friends of her own. Her behavior makes me feel unimportant and drives me batty, but I don’t feel like I can say anything. Thoughts?


If your friend were stepping on your toe repeatedly, you’d tell her it hurt, right? So, why can’t you say: “It hurts my feelings when you interrupt our conversations to check your phone.”

I get that the prospect of conflict is hard for some people. But the real problem here is not your friend’s cellphone (or her attachment to her adult daughter). It’s your belief that you’re not entitled to make reasonable requests. What kind of friendship is that?

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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