DEAR AMY: I was invited to a wedding for a cousin I am not close to. To be honest, I'm pretty certain that it's been years since we've even had a conversation that lasted more than 3.7 minutes.
Nobody in my immediate family is close to him, but we have all chosen to attend the wedding because it seems to mean a lot to his mother. The wedding is in another state, and it will take me at least 6.5 hours to drive there.
I have already notified everyone that, while I would love to make the ceremony, expecting me to be there, ready and raring to go at 3 p.m. is too much. I said I'll simply see them at the reception.
Now, suddenly, the mother of the groom (my aunt) wants everyone in the family to be at the ceremony by 1:30 p.m. to take a group picture! Once again, I stated in no uncertain terms that I could not make that time. She is very upset, and these family members have been complaining to one another about how terrible I am.
I believe that if you are asking people to travel far for a wedding and stay in a hotel, you should not put any demands on that person.
My sister, on the other hand, feels differently. She thinks I'm being terrible for not at least trying to get there early (or paying for a hotel room for two nights). She thinks I should be apologizing, whereas I think they can kick rocks and be mad all they want. I am attending this wedding on my own schedule.
Am I being unreasonable?
— Reluctant Wedding-Goer
DEAR RELUCTANT: Perhaps you work the overnight shift at a nuclear missile silo.
If so, you are forgiven. Otherwise I can't understand what is so difficult about making a 6.5-hour drive in order to attend a wedding ceremony that starts at 3 p.m.
The way I calculate it, if you shower and leave the house at 7 a.m., you could arrive in plenty of time to change clothes and be your delightful self at the ceremony.
It is rude to state that you will attend a reception but not the wedding ceremony itself, unless there are extraordinary mitigating circumstances (your work at the missile silo, for instance) making your presence at the ceremony impossible.
A wedding is not about you and your needs. "They can kick rocks" is not exactly the spirit in which to approach an important family event.
You have my permission to stay home.
DEAR AMY: I'm a 51-year-old single male. I met a woman on a dating site, and after several phone conversations we met for lunch and spent about 2-1/2 hours together.
She didn't seem to want to know much about me; we talked mostly about her and her life — past and present.
Should I see this as a red flag, thinking that it's all about her and that if we had a relationship I would take a back seat?
— Wondering Singleton
DEAR WONDERING: Some people — especially if they are nervous — build a little Babylon of sound, filling every silence with talk. And some people simply babble on. And on.
The best way to find out what you're dealing with is to have a second meeting. If you don't hear the phrase, "But enough about me," then you'll want to keep looking.
This is an opportunity not only to gauge her behavior, but to look at your own. Are there ways you need to assert yourself?
DEAR AMY: Regarding the question in your column about what parents can do with the possessions left at home by their adult children, my parents had the same dilemma with my brother and me.
When we both had finally settled into our homes, they would leave a box for us at every family event we hosted, going so far as to leave a tote full of stuff on my front porch as they peeled down my driveway.
They did this until their own downsized home was purged of our belongings.
— Highway Worker
DEAR HIGHWAY WORKER: I love the image of your folks Bonnie and Clyde-ing down your driveway.
Send questions via email to email@example.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.