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Dear Miss Manners: I am recently divorced and now dating a woman who lives in another state. We text back and forth all day long, except when I am with family or friends.

I do not answer her calls or text when I am with other people because I think it is rude. If I do answer her texts, it is sporadic and with quick replies.

Obviously, she does not agree with me and thinks if I value her and our relationship, I would answer at any time, especially if I am with my family, so they will take our relationship seriously since I am recently divorced.

What are your thoughts about answering cellphones and texting while in the presence of others?

Gentle Reader: That if your lady friend does not occasionally look up from her telephone, she is going to run into something.

Miss Manners means this metaphorically. If your lady friend believes your relationship is serious, then presumably she is hoping you will one day live in the same state, possibly even in the same house. When that day comes, she will no longer find it charming to have you texting while a family member is speaking. Explaining that you would never think of texting while you are with her – and that you extend the same courtesy to intimate friends and family – may avert future collisions.

Write mom a letter

Dear Miss Manners: My mom does so much for me, and I would really like to thank her. She is especially hard to buy presents for, and since most of my money comes from her in the first place (I’m not old enough to work), buying her a gift she probably won’t like seems pointless. She seems sad lately.

I’ve started to help her cook, but since I am still learning, this creates even more work for her. I was wondering if you had any ideas for something thoughtful I could do to cheer her up and show her how grateful I am.

Gentle Reader: Write her a letter telling her about your gratitude and your love, with examples of incidents and occasions that were special to you, and that you will always remember. If Miss Manners is moved by this, she can only imagine how much your mother will be.

Hand over hankies

Dear Miss Manners: Is it proper to give a family member a laundered, used handkerchief? They are my mom’s, who passed away last year. I was thinking of sending one to my aunt and cousin.

Gentle Reader: Passing on items owned by a departed loved one as keepsakes is a touching and long-standing tradition. Miss Manners endorses the practice, but would, in this context, tactfully avoid referring to them as “used.”

This column was co-written by Judith Martin’s son, Nicholas Ivor Martin.