Monthly Archives: January 2013

First date faux-pas

first date faux pas

I love first dates. So much can happen on a first date. Yes, it can be a short-lived experience, and all you’ve lost is time. But, generally, it’s where everything is new, and anything is possible.

Dating as a single mum has been a roller coaster of a ride. Sometimes it awakens the senses. Sometimes it’s even comedic. And yes, it can also be heart wrenchingly tragic. First dates are necessary, and often feel like hard work, sometimes they’re awkward, and sometimes, if you’re in sync with your date, it is a wonderfully warm experience that you want to revisit over, and over.

Surely, I thought to myself, there must be helpful guide on how to navigate a first date. Though it’s a shame to create a template that is devoid of personal idiosyncrasies and quirks, so  that it’s better to find out what you should NOT do on a first date, and let the rest be guided by your own individual personality. Yes, the etiquette of first dates.

The absolute biggest no-no is when a person talks badly of past relationships.

I researched my favourite etiquette resources, and they state that it’s still inappropriate to discuss religion, politics and money. I agree that discussing money with a near stranger is not a good idea, but today, when religion and politics are at the forefront of our lives, it seems rather impossible. It’s also possibly a good idea to broach those topics early, in case you have opposing ideas on them. It’s either going to produce a healthy discussion, or give you the exit you should take if you can’t stand his or her ideals or beliefs.

As to discussing sex, I have rarely experienced a first date when a man has offered this up for conversation. I’m sure that he thinks about it, and can be quite flirtatious, but it’s definitely up to the woman to initiate the topic. If a woman wants to get physical, she will let you know, just like our minx on our cover photo. If she prefers to establish a romantic relationship before getting physical, she will also guide that. It is acceptable to try to kiss a woman, and some women love that attention, but if she turns away, or indicates that she isn’t ready, then respect her wishes.

There are a few things that men should do. They will not appear old-fashioned if they open car doors for a woman, nor will it seem odd to help a woman with her coat. And even if those seem too much to do for your date, then at the very least you should open the door to the restaurant for your date. Typically the door opens out, and she should pass first, but if the door opens inwards, then you should walk through and hold the door open for her.

There is a very old world rule that says that men should always enter a restaurant before his date. This is to ward off all other gentlemen’s eyes to your date. Today, most women will walk directly behind the maitre-d or host, followed by her partner.

Table manners are also extremely important, and licking your knife, or your plate are forbidden. Tucking your napkin into your collar is only accepted when eating lobster or ribs, and the establishment normally supplies these.

Menu suggestions are great, but taking over and ordering on behalf of your date is not appropriate.

Answering your phone or texting is unacceptable. If you’re in a situation that requires you to keep your phone at the ready for work or if you have kids waiting at home, then let your date know.

And, as a general rule, if you invited your date, then you should pay for the meal. But I will write in depth on this important topic in an upcoming article. Too many have asked me what is the right etiquette with paying for dates.

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Breastfeeding in public

breastfeeding

This week, Sydney has been hit by a wave of controversy over breastfeeding in public. One television presenter on a morning show, David Koch (Kochie) has been dealing with the backlash of a comment he made last week on national television about a woman who was asked to leave a public swimming pool as she was breastfeeding her baby. He stated that women who breastfeed in public should be discreet and with class.

Unfortunately, many women were outraged by his comment, and found him to be discriminatory and sexist.

In an article today, he wrote, “The venom associated with my comments on breastfeeding has been extraordinary. From being called a buffoon with discriminatory views by the Fairfax Media critic Michael Idato, to being accused of hating kids, being jealous of babies and having a boob fetish.”
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/i-have-an-opinion–always-have-and-always-will-20130121-2d39n.html#ixzz2IgWxivkG

He declares that his wife, and mother of their 4 children, breastfed and did so with discretion. He also states that his two daughters breastfed their children.

It made me wonder what really is the right etiquette for breastfeeding in public?

Some women agree that discretion is necessary. That, though they want to breast feed their children, they will cover up when feeding, or move to a quieter and more discreet location. Some women think that they should be free to feed their children where they want, when they want.

I think that the latter argument shows little regard for others. Many people have cultural or religious stipulations about discretion. It may seem outwardly senseless to those women who want, or need, to breastfeed their children in public, but quite vulgar and disrespectful to others.

I recall when my son was born and I had family members over all the time. I had little desire to offend my parents by baring my breasts, so moved to private location. Etiquette really is about showing respect and consideration for those around you.

If you’re in the exclusive company of women with babies and toddlers, in a baby group or play group, then it would seem logical to feed children as you like. It’s all about the appropriate and courteous behaviour.

There are no laws that say that etiquette is obligatory. It’s just a question of choice.

I suppose that if men can stand side by side in urinals, and many new modern establishments have unisex toilets, then maybe the day will come when we can walk the planet unencumbered by the clothes on our back. The Amazonian’s have done so for centuries. But civilisation requires civility, and that includes modesty and privacy about baring their breasts.

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Friends with an Ex

friends

Yesterday, I attended the memorial service of a very famous sports icon. It was a moving event and heart-breaking watching his young children speak of him with such dignity and grace.

I had done the research on the appropriate etiquette, so participated with a silent and sombre air.

During the service, I sat, unbeknownst to me, next to the divorcee of a very well-known Australian entrepreneur. She waved to many people, and at one point giggled how one particularly famous man she waved to had physically gotten out of shape since their relationship over fifteen years prior. She was a bit disturbed that he waved to her, and declared that she would prefer that they both pretend that they didn’t know each other. She then asked me if I thought it was possible to remain friends with an ex… an ex-husband or an ex-boyfriend?

I have been very fortunate that I have remained on exceptionally good terms with my ex-husband. It seems we actually have put our children first, and been able to let go of our ego’s and get on with our respective lives; it would seem that we are the poster-children for The Modern Family!

I seem also to be happy to continue building, and not dissolving, relationships with ex-boyfriends. Don’t get me wrong, there are some who have been banished from the face of my world. They seem to be the ones who have too much ego, and lack kindness. Does make you wonder why I dated them at all.

Back on track… I figure that just because I can’t have a romantic relationship (meaning with all the loaded expectations and tiptoeing of beginnings, and negotiations of disappointments, etc.. you get the picture, ie a monogamous, committed relationship), doesn’t mean that I don’t like and enjoy facets of our friendship and connection.

I have one friend in particular that I dated about three years ago. Yes, after our break up (if you can call it that – we had only been dating a short while), we did have a cooling off period. There does seem to be a quieting of the senses for a while, akin to recovery, or maybe a little postmortem mourning that’s necessary. But once that was over, it seemed such a shame to lose all contact with him when we had so many things we liked to do together or discuss. We started going to the theatre together, or attending functions when we didn’t have a date. We didn’t talk about other dates. I think that was more out of respect for each others feelings than for any hope that we might rekindle our romance. But I’m thrilled that I have such a good male friend.

But when is it impossible to keep a platonic friendship with an ex? It seems that if there is residual resentment, it’s unwise to try to continue any connection or friendship. And if either party still fancies the other, then it’s probably hurtful to that person. Sometimes the kindest way to end things, is just to end them completely.

But back to the gorgeous woman I met yesterday. She insisted that it’s impossible to have a real friendship with an ex. I discovered that she is one of the most prominent, and successful, divorce lawyers in Australia. I imagine that her career, as well as her much publicised romances, and divorce, must have led her to only keeping girl friends.

Well, then there’s always Taylor Swift…. I wonder how many of her ex-boyfriends want to remain friends after she writes songs about them?

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Keeping your own secret garden

secret garden

In France young ladies are taught by their mothers and grandmothers about decorum. We learn about seduction by watching other women behave. We watch how they tilt their head a certain way, how they sit with their legs crossed at an angle, and how poised they are, when engaging in the art of flirtation. This may seem old world, but if you observe the interaction between men and women in France, or most European countries, you will notice the seduction plays out before your eyes.

One thing that does not happen, and will never happen, is to share everything with your mate. Even if a woman is with her partner for life, she will keep some secrets, le jardin secret (fr), from her mate. These things will include things like farting, shaving, plucking hairs from unfortunate places. These secrets do not limit themselves to physical things either. They can include past secrets, yes, the obvious past lovers, where such history could directly interfere with the success of your current relationship. It can also be some things about herself that she shares with no-one at all, a book of poems that she needs to keep private, a talent that she doesn’t want to share.

Some of these can be embarassing, or humiliating, or if divulged could affect the outcome in the new relationship.

One of the most wondrous experiences a couple can share is to know without a doubt that the bond of the affection is solid, and yet that they each have secrets that neither need to know, as it won’t affect their love and it actually makes you feel strong.

Mystery is powerfully attractive. Sometimes knowing someone too well also breeds over-confidence and, sadly, complacency in your relationship.
It’s a fine line to have the confidence of a solid romantic relationship, without knowing absolutely everything about them.

Leave some mystery.

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and God created woman (part 1)

and god created woman

Prior to creating woman, there was only man. One man. He had no need for leadership, or competition, or ego. He was alone. With only nature to sustain and entertain him. So why then was woman created? Why not just hermaphrodites? Sometimes I ask myself this question. What were we, women, destined for? And what, you may ask, has etiquette got to do with it?

Well, I think that women have been designed to soften this world. It’s all in our physical make up. We are softer, we have curves, we are built to carry life within us, and even built to feed that life when it’s first born.

We are not the same, nor should try to be. And yet, yes, we are equal. We all know that women are pretty much capable of doing everything a man can do, and more. Biologically speaking that is.

The question of etiquette here is really about accepting our differences, and embracing them with elegance and respect, and consideration to our fellow man. Offering him up a warm shoulder to rest his head upon when he realises that for all his physical strength and bravado, we are here to share the joys and happiness of the great adventure in romance.

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Be mine!

kiss

It’s been quite a while since I have actively engaged in romantic behaviour for Valentine’s day. During my teenage years, when I fancied the popular, handsome boy, who I never actually had the courage to talk to, I thought it would be fitting to send him a Valentine’s message. I was more mortified of being caught out than actually using my creative juices to declare my affections and doodle a romantic image of my heart entwined with his.

Now, with Valentine’s looming, I started wondering what is the correct behaviour for our modern romantic day? Is it as simple as buying a Hallmark card, and waiting to have the reciprocal card back, along with a restaurant date, a box of chocolates or a bunch of roses?

I have always thought that a relationship with two individuals is in itself individual and unique. So there really shouldn’t be a set formula that garners romance with food, flowers and a pre-fabricated card.

Etiquette does dictate that sentiment and timing play a big part of Valentine’s Day. If you’re in a new relationship, it’s the perfect time to share with your partner how much you care – which sometimes is awkward in the early days. When you have been seeing each other for several months, it’s a way to highlight how much you cherish them. And during long term relationships, when life, children, work and all the other time consuming distractions can make less time for your relationship, it’s clearly a time to bond.

For me, i think it is least about the giving of physical things like flowers or chocolates, or going out on a date… as all these things I hope to perform regularly with him, it’s more about sharing with him why the uniqueness of your relationship also has affection, warmth and caring. It’s a time when you can think of things that make him feel valued and loved. Like surprising him with tickets to his favourite football game, when he knows that it’s not really your thing. Or organising a masseuse to your home to treat your lovely girlfriend or wife because you know how much she loves them.

I believe that the possessions we give are always less precious than the experiences we share.

But then again, the feeling you get when sending a token of affection to the unknowing man, never to be revealed. That still makes me feel like the giddy teenager.

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and God created woman (part 2)

bardot

Yesterday, as I walked in the city after an early theatre performance, I was commenting to my male friend how people were dressed. It was a warm Saturday night and people were very casually dressed. Yes, we live in a city by the sea, and the culture is a relaxed beach-type culture. More importantly I noticed how skimpy were women’s clothes. It seems that women are displaying all their wares for males, and women, to see. There’s nothing new here, it’s natural to try to attract the opposite sex with visual cues. But have we gone overboard? What is the right dress etiquette to stay attractive without being vulgar?

My friend admitted that women who show too much have no appeal to him. Men are still after the challenge, and a woman who bares too much also leaves nothing to the imagination, nothing for the chase.

There is etiquette on the lengths of skirts, but I do think that it’s really determined by the tightness of the clothing. And, sadly and unjustly, by the shape of a woman’s body. A dress that is worn too tight and short on a portly frame is going to more unsightly than a hugging dress on a very skinny girl. This does not mean that women with curves are unattractive at all. We all just need to learn what is attractive for our body shapes.

Cleavage also is predetermined by the shape of the body. Voluptuous women with ample breasts can sometimes have a sex appeal that a skimpily clad busty woman can not muster.

So, there are a few basic rules of attire etiquette. Most importantly, if you’re going to show off your legs with a short skirt or shorts, then cover your breasts. It’s one or the other… not both. In any case, rare is the woman who has fantastic legs and cleavage, so stick to your most favoured feature, and highlight it.

Unbeknownst to most people, your posture is most likely to by your best asset. Think of people who slouch. They send a message of weakness or sadness. Whereas a person who stands tall, with their shoulders back gives off an air of confidence and strength.

Smile. Yes, I can’t tell you the number of times a man has approached me and told me that he was drawn to my smile. Joy is very seductive.

Clothes that are clean and well pressed are much more attractive than crumpled dirty clothes. And least of all smelly ones.

Wear clothes appropriate to the season. It is ridiculous to see women in skimpy clothes in winter months, and just silly seeing women in thick winter wear during hot summer nights. It doesn’t matter that the clothes figure as the latest craze in the northern hemisphere.

If you’re going to wear men’s clothing (for effect), then make sure that you mix it well with a feminine piece. Great accessories, or fantastic high heel shoes. Or inject colour and contrast.

If you wear white, it invites trouble. You’re either going to display cellulite (easily masked if you had chosen black) or display more than you intended when lighting hits it at the right angle (recall Lady Diana’s early photo shoot in long white flowing skirt).

Oh, and my pet peeve. Never, ever, (ever… though a past write-up offers one recent occurrence for this etqt author), take off your shoes when going out at night and wander with them in your hands. If you can’t bear to walk, then take a pause and recover a while. Walking in high heels, like any skill, must be learnt. Practice wearing them at home for lengthier periods each time. Choose the right shoe for the event you will attend. Extremely high heels at a dinner party is fine when you’ll find yourself seated for most of the evening. Not so fine if you’re going to be dancing or standing all night. Cocktails are tricky. It’s always more appealing to see legs lengthened by heels, but sometimes it’s a painful price to pay. Once, again, practice it over several days, weeks if possible.

As to alcohol and it’s effects on appearance and attractiveness, I recall driving passed a pub with my pre-teen daughter a year ago, and thanks to the perfect timing, a very drunk, scarcely dressed, woman with smudged make up (I think you get the picture),  meandered in front of my car, with sandals in her hands. I pointed out to my daughter that this woman was “cheap” (yes, I was being extremely harsh and judgmental, but please bear with me as I extoll the virtues of this tale), and sadly that this girl would only attract one of two men; a cheap man (slovenly and without virtue) or a fine man who was seeking a temporary fix (ie not a good man either). The moral to this tale is that you get what you put out. This applies to men too. Women are least attracted to drunks, bullies and overtly loud, obnoxious men. It served as a great learning device for this mum. Now, my daughter makes a point of showing me “cheap” girls all the time. Goodness, have a created a monster?

On a more contemporary note about attire for modern woman; if you’re confident that you know what message you’re sending with your appearance, and do not shy away from comments that could be made, then wear what you like. Good etiquette, above all, is about being confident without offending those around you. And fashion is all about expressing yourself on the outside.

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Keep your top on

beachwear

 

I go to the beach. I go because I want a swim, or to lie down and get a bit of a tan, read a book, or to hang out with my friends or family.

What I don’t go for, is to watch topless women flaunt their breasts.

I wonder why women today feel that they have a free pass on topless sunbathing at public (family style) beaches.

I dare think any man really minds seeing bare chested women. But that’s really applies to any place, any time, right?

I understand that women don’t want to have strap marks on their shoulders. But makeup has come a long way, and if that’s such an issue, then wear the strapless suits.

I’m not going to rave on about the damage that our sun is doing to our skin. It’s one of the worst things to come out of our Lucky Country. I do think that most beaches do not tolerate topless bathing, at least in most major cities in Australia.

Make sure to find out what the local expectations are when traveling. It’s disrespectful, and sometimes illegal, to bare your body in some countries.

If you are going to dare to bare your breasts at beaches, then you will have to accept that men, and some women, will leer and jeer.

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The tall, and fat, lies of online dating

tall date

I don’t lie. Well, I don’t think I lie. I think I’m the type of person who would rather hear the truth, even if it’s bad, and then try to work through the pain and get on to finding the good things in my life. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes or change my mind, or have whimsy. It’s just that I want to solve things fast.

This tends to be paradoxical to lots of the behaviour I’ve encountered during online dating. Some of it’s comical, some of it’s just plain ridiculous, but sometimes it’s so wrought with half truths that it’s nearly impossible to find a real person at the other end.

Online dating has been a huge learning curve for me, it really is like one of those things that you don’t have to do, but see others enjoying success through, so join the hopeful set, something akin to the jetset, all glamour and success, hiding all the hard work it took to get there.

These past three years I’ve actively managed my romantic life, and left chance and opportunity to a past life, I’ve discovered that there is, or at the least should be, very clear etiquette for online dating. Just as dating, new relationships, going on dates all have weird and wonderful rules of etiquette, there too are rules for successfully navigating through online dating.

Do not lie. Not telling whole truths is not the same as lying, but obvious lies about your age or height, or yes, your weight, are untruths that will come crashing down very quickly. I met a man who lied about his weight. The evening we met I couldn’t spot him at the bar, and called to find out if he was late, and he said that he was just walking through the door. I saw a man who was at least 20kgs heavier than his profile picture. I was more upset about the lie than the actual size of him. It made me think that he’s either deluded and still thinks himself thinner, or he’s not confident enough to be happy in his own skin.

The lies come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve heard of women who reinvent themselves. The haggard 55 year old woman who portrayed herself as a nubile career woman in her 30’s. She would meet up with her dates in skimpy skirts and high heel stiletto’s and work the sex kitten on her mate, so as to try to capture him through his libido. I do wonder how much success she has? Or even what she thinks success is.

It does make me wonder what we’re all looking for in relationships. But that has nothing to do with etiquette.

Like all romantic relationships, especially relationships that begin with people who don’t know each other well, it takes time to relate things to each other. Some things, most things, are easy to share, like all the practical things, where you work, and what you’ve done during the day. It’s the scary things that are difficult to share, and that takes time.

One of my family members is gravely ill at the moment, and each day, each week is a blessing to have. But for the first few months I didn’t share with my new partner about the gravity of the situation, as I wasn’t sure he could take the enormity of the loss I would have if I had to deal with the loss.

I did meet one man last year who was so accommodating, and always said yes to whatever I suggested, and then would let me down by not showing up, or canceling at the last hour. I found out that he was such a lonely person, with such low self esteem that he would rather have an appointment with anyone then to stay at home on his own. He was also never satisfied with the girls he met, so just kept lots of dates running concurrently. Not my idea of honesty. But it worked for him… not me.

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T’is the season to be jolly … That doesn’t mean ripped!

drunk

I must confess, I’m not a good drunk. Actually, I’m not an ugly drunk, I’m just not used to being drunk, so I haven’t really mastered the art of over drinking.

I’m a happy drunk. So in that, I am grateful. Those depressed, woeful drunks, who rant about all their misgivings and delve into the darkest parts of their psyche, when they are so oblivious, do make for the worst kind of drunks.

I’m not about to preach to those who need alcohol to get through their days. This isn’t that kind of site.

But, working out how to behave when you’re way too jolly is something that I’ve been wondering. I recently found myself in such a state at a Christmas party, going in and out of the oblivious sector of my brain… where moments pass in a little blank, and then something, or someone pulls you back to reality (or are they pulling you back to consciousness?). At one moment, a friend asked me where my shoes were… I couldn’t recall taking them off, and even comically looked down at my feet to check if my shoes were actually off.

I have a pet peeve about women who wander around in public without shoes on. So, you can imagine my chagrin to find myself in that particular predicament.

Though my behaviour pales in comparison to lots of drunken behaviour, it did make me wonder what kind of standard, yes, etiquette, should one follow when it comes to parties, cocktails, dining and how much alcohol is acceptable.

My friends tease me that I am such a light weight with alcohol. It seems that the more I try to keep up with them, the less I’m able to keep up.

Yes, the golden rule is sip your drinks, don’t gulp them. If you’re that thirsty, then alternate a soft drink with your alcoholic beverage. This is a wise idea anyhow, as it will help with the dehydration that alcohol takes on your body, and that can only help the healing process with the hangover the next morning.

Sticking to one type of alcohol purports to keep hangovers away too. But I can’t find any proof of that except that your body metabolises different chemicals in different ways, so the variances in white wine, red wine, champagne, beer and/or spirits require that the liver and kidney work in different ways, so that can cause hangovers, so I suppose it makes sense that this variable also contributes to the alcoholic reaction to your body.

Eating before drinking helps to absorb the alcohol.

Knowing your tipping point is always good. But there doesn’t seem to be a golden rule that works every time. Is it 2 glasses per hour, or 1? Definitely no more than 5 drinks per evening. And champagne has the added bubbly effect that seems to have a throttle to the inebriated state!

Unless you are intending to get really drunk, try drinking one standard drink (can of beer, shot of hard liquor)per hour, which is about the rate at which your liver can keep up. For most people, the most pleasant moment is when the first one kicks in (BAL around .05), and drinking more at that time just moves you away from the “sweet spot.” At one per hour, your blood alcohol level will tend to stay in that range, resulting in more pleasant feeling and less likelihood of doing something stupid. http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-a-Hangover

You know it’s time to go home when any, or all , of the following things happen;

– You lose time – this could actually be more serious than you think if it happens often. I worried that my virtual blackout may be serious, but it seems that if it’s just the one off, then it’s s simple trigger to the quantity of alcohol . I should just monitor the intake.

– You start making a fool of yourself, or worse, others. If your words start slurring, and you know it, then go home.

– You’re feeling the slump of sad thoughts or dismal feelings. Best to go home, get a good rest, eat a hearty meal on wake up, and go for a long walk or do some sport to move out of depressive or sad emotions.

– You’re making advances on people who are unavailable. A few years ago a woman that I’d met a few times impressed upon me how attracted she was to me, and that she would very much like to kiss me. I was blindsided. I had had too much to drink, and didn’t know how to brush her off. I raced out of the party and got myself home. She too was drunk, so had found the courage to make these advances. I didn’t think too much of it then, but think alcohol a very brazen lubricant.

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