Question:

I met my boyfriend in a professional class, which was 90 percent female. On the first day of class, we introduced ourselves, and he told everyone he was married. I later got to know him, got involved, discovered that he was going through a divorce (I know, oldest line in the book, but I know for a fact it is true), and, as he tends to attract a lot of unwanted female attention, he believed it was easier to avoid the issue by saying he was married. Fine.

The problem is that months later, other people from the class are still talking about me behind my back, about how I am going to get my heart broken, how foolish I am, etc. I can ignore the gossip, but how do I respond when people I do not know well tell me they are worried about me, or make comments like, "Isn't he married?"

I admit I am a little embarrassed to have people think I am some kind of home-wrecker, but, on the other hand, I don't really feel his status or my private matters are any of their business. How should I handle this?

Answer: Cluck cluck cluck. It is an obnoxious soundtrack. But "Mind your own business" - what we all want to say - only thickens the aura of guilt.

Once you resolve that your private matters aren't anyone's business - rightly, I believe - you do severely limit the ways you can respond. I suppose you could reply, "Let she who is without intrigue cast the first cluck," but then they'd just look at you funny.

Since any explanation, revelation or defense falls beyond what you owe anyone, what's left but to live your life and let people think what they want? Even the ones who approach you.

You will, of course, have to answer their invasive concerns politely, since two rudes don't make a right. "I appreciate your concern," especially when you don't, works well as a frilly "Butt out." If you're feeling ambitious and you'd like to teach the nosy while also torturing the curious, dust off a cryptic, "Things aren't always as they seem."

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