Following the Faith

"Social Q's" is Philip Galanes's advice column in the New York Times.  Every Tuesday in Anti-Social Q's, I will answer the same questions as "Social Q's," with a greater regard for the sad state of the human condition.

This week Philip helps adults figure out some very simple things.  A man wonders why he was not promoted, someone has no idea why their sister is not talking to them, a woman seeks a significant other, and another wonders whether she should behave properly in church.

Was a Missed Promotion a Matter of Race?

I am a 30-year-old white guy.  For three years, I have worked for a clothing company.  My credentials are great: I graduated from an Ivy League college, I’ve been in fashion for my entire career, and my reviews have been excellent.  But when the time came to replace our department manager, who transferred to another group, the company promoted a woman of color with a less impressive résumé (and four fewer months at the company) instead of me.  I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything, but I feel demoralized.  What should I do?


Well, there's all sorts of reasons why people get promoted over others, some of which you list and some of which you don't.  The only way to truly find out is by asking your superiors what qualities they would like you to develop further.  If you find that those are qualities you already offer or do not want to work on those, you can always look for another job.  It's not healthy to just sit there and be miserable.  Only you can improve your lot in life.

For the Sake of the Son

My sister shut me out of her life several years ago.  I have no clue why.  She made it clear that she is angry with me and doesn’t want to speak.  I made several unsuccessful attempts to work it out, then I stopped.  But I do speak with her son.  We’re on very good terms, and I was just invited to his wedding.  But I don’t relish the prospect of spending a day at an event where I am not welcome.  Help!


Just ask her son what is going on.  Or try one more time to reach out to her and see how she feels about you being there.  I mean be proactive.  Don't just sit there wondering.  Does she have a husband?  Ask him as well.  You have so many avenues open to you and you're asking some stranger from the newspaper?

Try Not to Try

I am ready to start dating again after my relationship of three years ended six months ago.  We met online, but I’m not in the mood for that now: 20 endless text conversations that go nowhere for one that ends in a date.  Still, I know all my co-workers and friends’ friends.  I’m not meeting anyone that way.  My friends tell me to join activities, but I have.  I’m social, volunteer, play sports, etc.  But no dates!  Dating at 23 was easy.  My life was always changing, so I met new people.  But at 32, my life is more constant.  What do I do?

Carol, New York

Jesus girl.  Take a break for crying out loud.  Just enjoy your time as a single person because before you know it you're going to have someone in your life that you wish wasn't around all the time.  Sometimes you find just what you're looking for when you stop looking.

When in Rome …

I am in a relationship with a Roman Catholic fellow.  I am lapsed from the church, but I like to accompany him when he goes.  I think it strengthens our bond.  Is it O.K. for me to sit through the service, in quiet contemplation, or should I sit, kneel and stand along with the rest of congregation?  I want to be respectful without pretending I’m something I’m not.


It would be pretty awkward and you would draw the most unwanted attention if you just sit there, so if that's what you are going for, by all means, just sit there.  But I'm willing to bet you're like most people and unwanted attention is well, unwanted, so go with the flow.


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