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Miss Conduct

Advice: We’re giving wedding goodie bags to family. Do in-laws count?

They aren’t in the same hotel. Plus, how to travel with strangers.

Need advice? Submit questions for Miss Conduct here.

My son is getting married, and he and his intended live out of state. This is a destination wedding for both families. Our family is likely to stay in one hotel in a preferred chain. Our new in-laws use a different hotel chain and will likely all be staying in a different hotel. We are planning on making welcome bags for our family and friends. Is it required that we supply those for our in-laws’ side? Or is it just bad form to not do it?

J.C. / Boston

Oh, must we define this in terms of requirements and bad form? Make the bags for them! It’s a generous and joyful thing to do, especially if most or all of you will be meeting for the first time.

Human beings tend to default to “us and them” thinking in social contexts, given even the slightest impetus to do so. We can override this tribal impulse, but it takes a conscious effort to do so.

It’s too bad that the Montagues (I assume your “C” stands for Capulet) are staying at a different hotel — when one “us and them” difference is layered on top of another like that, the override task becomes harder. So don’t do anything else to reinforce the divide, like giving welcoming goodies to your own crew but not to theirs.

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I am leaving next month on an 11-day tour to South America with a UK-based group. I am sharing a room with someone not known to me. The tour group’s policy is to not divulge any info about roommates. So I guess I find out on Day One whom I’ll be sharing quarters with. My question: How do I handle it if the roomie is a Brexiter, or worse, another American who does not share my strongly held political beliefs? My worries may be all for naught, but right now, I’m kind of concerned that this hypothetical person may not like people of color, such as myself. Help allay my fears!

A.T./ Austin, Texas

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I am heartbroken and enraged at the toll our political climate has taken on people of color and at the hateful rhetoric that is being normalized in the highest places. There are white supremacists in our midst, and they are feeling emboldened. I can’t blame you for feeling jumpy about strangers. I get that your strongly held political beliefs in part relate to your own civil rights, that this is not something you can choose not to take personally.

In this particular situation, though, I think you’re going to be fine. The tour itself provides one heck of a filter. And if you do get someone intolerant or intolerable, talk to the tour manager about a reassignment. You’re more likely to get stuck with a genial, politically like-minded sink hog or chronic oversharer. Pack earplugs and a sleep mask.

Ask your roommate what she needs to be comfortable in the space — this frames your relationship as two people working together to optimize your mutual experience and minimize the awkwardness of adult strangers sharing living quarters.

Bon voyage!

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.