Category Archives: Information

Off with your kit

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Is this going to be the theme of my next dinner party… How to follow the etiquette of nude dining?

For the Huffington Post 18 Mar 2014

by by Ruth Wertzberger Carlson

Once upon a time, etiquette was important: One needed to know which fork to use, which glass to sip from. Those days, my friends, are over. Now, questions of etiquette mainly revolve around how many Instagrams each guest is allowed to take during dinner.

But there remains one corner of the world where table etiquette remains a vexing and important issue: at nude resorts. And it’s a problem for a growing number of people.

“We’re seeing a rise in ‘nakations,’ especially among people in their thirties,'” says Sue Nerud, spokesperson for the American Association for Nude Recreation. Exact statistics are hard to come by, however, since many nudists prefer to remain anonymous. (In fact, several nudists in this article spoke only on the condition their names not be used.) And while Nerud said recent studies show that nakations are great stress relievers, there remain those pesky etiquette issues — which we are about to solve for you!

1. Towel On: “Naked butts at the table are a big no-no,” says travel writer and photographer David Lansing, who likes to take off his press hat (and everything else) at nudist resorts around the world. For reasons of basic health and safety, everyone brings a towel to sit on. More proof that, as fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy know all too well, a towel is “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker” — or hungry nudist — “can have.”

2. Just Because We’re All Naked Doesn’t Mean We’re All Friends: “You should wait to be invited to a table,” says Lansing. “This isn’t like going on a cruise; even though there may be eight or 10 people at a large table, they usually all know each other, and there will be a very uncomfortable pause in the conversation if you just sit down at a table uninvited. That said, nudists are some of the friendliest people I’ve met and invariably you’ll be asked to join one group or another for lunch or dinner. But do wait to be asked.”

3. Listen to Your Mother — Use a Napkin! “As a matter of etiquette,” says advice columnist April Masini, “covering your private parts with a napkin while at a nudist event is good manners the same way not chewing with your mouth open is. We all know it’s there; we all know what’s happening; we don’t need to see everything at dinner. Just because you take your clothes off doesn’t mean you should strip yourself of manners.”

4. Some Don’t Like It Hot: “Most nudists resorts will hold traditional barbecues, and first-timers need to be careful around the ‘weenie roast,'” says Tom Mulhall, who owns the Terra Cotta Inn in Palm Springs, California, and blogs about nudism on The Huffington Post. Nor is the grill the only danger — the dinner table, too, can be hazardous. “Don’t allow your waiter to serve you a bowl of hot soup. He can spill into your lap,” notes photography instructor Eugene Louie, who visits clothing-optional resorts for self-reflection.

4. Listen to Your Mother, Part 2: “Sit up straight,” says Masini. “Good posture at the dinner table is always a way to show good breeding and good manners, but when you’re nude, slouching and elbows akimbo are not only more noticeable — they create a silhouette that is less attractive than if you have clothes on. Sit up straight!”

5. No One Will Pardon Your Reach: “Don’t reach — even if you think it’s not a reach,” says Masini. “Nude or naturist dining requires a greater margin of coordination and control. Without a bra, and with a well-endowed chest, reaching — even a little — may result in your breasts in the marinara sauce.”

6. There Is Such a Thing as Too Casual. “Casual dining doesn’t mean you can put your ankle across your knee, or your feet up on the coffee table — even if it’s an outdoor barbecue with paper plates,” says Masini. “Reconsider the view others will have while eating.” Of course, if you keep a napkin in your lap, this won’t be an issue.

7. Eyes Up Here, Buddy! “I’d say the most important table etiquette for nudists is no staring,” says Lansing. “It’s not unusual for nudists to just wrap a gauzy sarong around them as they go straight from the pool (or beach) to the table, so you want to try really hard to maintain eye contact.” Instead of discussing people’s bodies, it’s safer to talk about the food.

8. Food Porn, OK. Real Porn, No Way! Go ahead and Instagram your dinner if the resort allows it, says Nerud, but don’t shoot other guests unless they sign a photo release form.

9. Chill Out: If you’re nervous about dining in the buff, don’t be. The resort owners I spoke to all said concerns about being naked usually go away after 15 minutes. Nude dining seems naturally relaxing: You don’t have to think about what to wear (or dry-cleaning bills), and you never have to loosen your belt if you overeat. Although, actually, I can’t think of a better motivation to lose weight than the fact that everyone can see your gut (and everything else).

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Road rage….. beep beep bump!

road rage

Whilst I adore that my new, gorgeous man, is thoughtful and considerate, he has demonstrated behaviour that requires pondering, researching and pursuit of the correct etiquette.

He always picks me up in his car and drives us around when we go out, even if it means going out of his way. This I appreciate. However, I’ve discovered a healthy amount of road rage when he sees another driver doing the wrong thing on the road.

Our first conversation on this topic was regarding a couple who boast owning a California Ferrari. It’s a pretty fancy car… if you like that sort of thing. I informed him that I had seen that they had parked it irresponsibly over someone’s driveway whilst attending a lunch with me and some friends. He then said that if he had seen such a thing, he would have liked to scratch the length of the car with his keys. I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe that he could suggest such a thing. I, too, found it inexcusable to think Mr and Mrs California Ferrari would think it acceptable, but to do physical damage to their car… no. I thought, at the time, that maybe he was demonstrating his macho-ness. He says that the haughtiness of the rich enrages him. Hmmm… I left it at that.

A few weeks later, we were driving around, and whilst approaching a corner, we could see a car crossing through our intersection too fast. He didn’t pause to let the driver go through, but instead accelerated in his large Jeep Cherokee to force the other driver to know that he was, not only, in the wrong, but that he better make a quick decision about what to do, or we would all be heading straight into collision! I held my breath, and then had minor heart palpitations for several minutes afterwards. He declared the other driver a select number of savoury adjectives, before merrily going on our way.

It does remain a rare occurrence, but when it happens, I seem to get stressed, whilst just has more resolve… to show the wrong-doer up.

I have asked him if he has road rage, but he declares that he doesn’t. He offers that, as I see the world through etqt/etiquette eyes, he too believes that there is a set protocol, or road etiquette, required.

So, I got to thinking, what is the right road etiquette, when you see that others blatantly behave badly, illegally, or worse, with total disregard for others on the road.

Though, in a perfect world, we would all drive responsibly, and only stop where and when we should, and never change lanes without indicating, and enter roundabouts at the right time, and wait for all pedestrians to cross the zebra crossing, and, and, and… the list is exhaustive. But, as I am the first to admit that I cannot commit to being the perfect driver all the time, I’m willing to allow that same ethos to all too. Hence, it’s just about having a little patience and understanding.

I’ve yet to see Mr Wonderful yell out expletives to anyone, or use his middle finger (but that may be because he’s read my the article on that..  https://etqtetiquette.com/2013/02/03/hey-kids-whats-with-the-middle-finger/ ), so maybe it’s just controlled frustrations.

I do know that as the passenger, I will remain calm, collected and quiet, never to be declared as the “backseat driver”.

On a more stressful note, my 16 year old son has started driving, and the level of angst and fear that I must contain surpasses any restrain I’ve yet to need with Mr Wonderful.

I asked Mr Wonderful to consider that maybe those bad drivers may be elderly, medically challenged, or several other helpless conditions. He didn’t see the relevance. Oh well… He’s Wonderful… not Perfect.

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Hubba bubba – chew on that!

gum

My new man chews gum. He does it, so he says, as the means to stay off cigarettes. Cute… but he quit five years ago!

It doesn’t bother me in the slightest, as he is polite and thoughtful, and rarely chews in my presence.

But, it got me wondering, what is the right etiquette for chewing gum?

I do it rarely. I find that my favourite gum loses it’s flavour within minutes. It also makes my lips dry… I don’t know why that is! But most of all, if I chew for too long, I burp (very un-etqt of me), and get a stomach ache with hunger pangs. If I chew too long, I end up with a headache too. Really, what’s the advantage for me?

I’ve never met anyone else with the same complaints.

I did try to use it as a breath freshener and way of keeping my teeth cleaner during the course of the day, just as the advertising said, but I’d be so hungry after 20 or 30 minutes that I’d end up eating something, and my teeth wouldn’t be clean anymore.

So, when is it ok to chew, and more importantly how?

Definitely, keep your mouth shut when you chew. I recall at 13 year’s old, I was on my way home from the local beach on the bus, and a bunch of girls walked past me, and one turned to me and said, “you chew like a cow”. I was mortified. Lucky it stayed with me, and I never chewed gum with my mouth opened again.

Blowing bubbles with bubble gum is for kids. So, if you’re older than 10, no more bubbles.

Make sure to get rid of your gum in the most discrete and hygienic way by wrapping in some kind of paper and putting in the rubbish ASAP. Do not swallow your gum. There are reports that children have had to have surgery to remove globs of collected gum in their bellies due to swallowing up to nine pieces of gum a day.

You should never chew gum when you’re going for job interview (even if you think the company is modern and chilled out), or when you’re eating (imagine all the mishaps that could happen?), and definitely when you’re about to get cosy with your partner (I can’t imagine how awful it would be to kiss someone with gum in his mouth).

If you’re going to chew, keep your mouth closed (as much as you can) and keep quiet.

A FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT GUM:

There are places where gum is banned. Singapore for one.. yes, a whole country. From 1992 till 2002. It was reinstated in 2002, but only with a prescription from a doctor. And only sugarless gum at that! You could get a hefty $6,000 fine if you’re caught without your prescription!

Some theme parks and other gardens around the world have banned it too, to keep the grounds clean. Gum is made of polymers, and bonds with other man-made materials.

Chewing gum burns about 11 calories per hour. But an hour of chewing would probably make your jaw sore! Just like a workout at the gym!

Chewing gum on an airplane will keep your ears from popping. Chewing gum makes your salivary glands produce 250% more saliva than normally, so you swallow more. This helps balance the pressure in your head.

Back in the 1920’s, prohibition increased gum sales because people needed to mask the alcohol on their breath. When prohibition was enacted, Adam’s Clove gum hit the market with the slogan: “It takes your breath away!”  – NICE ONE!

Well, I’m just thankful that chewing tobacco has lost it’s appeal… though, a few years ago I sat next to a man on a long-haul flight who kept smacking his lips, and after a while of chatting, he explained that he was chewing tobacco. I was gobsmacked. He didn’t try to excuse it, and declared it as bad a vice as smoking, but was hooked. He did tell me that there are now so many “flavours” of tobacco that you can actually have minty flavoured chew! The countless times he wiped his mouth with a tissue to rid it of the nicotine spit just made me want to wretch! But I just smiled and kept my mouth shut, just like a good etqt lady… but seriously….YUCH!!!!! I can’t even write the article on tobacco chewing etiquette. I’ll leave that to my American southern belle counterparts.

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Hey! Are you talking to me?

on the phone marilyn

So, earlier today, I was chatting on the phone with one of my dear friends Sarah H-W. Sarah and I were engrossed in interesting and poignant topics, the likes of which women get drawn to when they should be busy doing something else, but can’t resist stealing some time to get some “girlfriend chatter” into the day. This can be as simple as a ten minute catch up, to swap advice and stories and make practical plans for forthcoming events, or it can develop into an altogether lengthier conversation, that requires a cup of tea, planting yourself in your favourite chair, and solving all life’s mysteries…

Mid-way through our conversation together, Sarah and I found ourselves addressing a nasty habit that we would (naturally) never do to another. It starts off innocently enough, of course. You’re on the phone with a friend, or anyone for that matter, and you’re both entirely focused and engaged in conversation……or so you think. Then all of a sudden, you can hear through your earpiece the click clack of a keyboard being used. Sarah and I agree…. this is very very rude. How can it not be rude? It sends a clear message that the other person is multitasking, and not giving you the undivided attention expected when making phone calls.

Where things got more complicated however, was our discussion around what might be the appropriate way to deal with this situation. Should you call them on it immediately by saying “hello, I can hear you typing…”?! Or would this seem a strange admonishment to one who thinks it perfectly acceptable to type and speak at the same time. Are these sorts of people  a different species, or have they simply not yet read “etqt-modern etiquette” to realise that others might disagree with their behaviour?

It got us thinking, then: just what type of multi-tasking is acceptable?

We came up with a very short list: when kids are involved, it’s important to keep children’s safety as a top priority, but that does not include allowing your child to interrupt you during a phone conversation just to tell you they want you to make them a sandwich.

Perhaps also acceptable is to proffer a caveat before starting a conversation: as a chef, I’m often baking when my phone rings. I may be putting cakes in the oven, or watching chocolate temper… If I see that a friend is calling, then I’m happy to chat, but will preface the conversation that I might be a tad distracted due to the cooking.

But what about the phone call from the car phone? I still haven’t decided if it’s rude, or just practical, to take, or make, calls from my car phone. It does offer a bit of “quiet time” when my day can be so filled with other distractions at work or at home. But on the other hand, it also sends a message that because I couldn’t fit you into busy day, so I’m just cramming you in whilst I’ve got nothing better to do. Rarely do I have long phone calls with friends when I’m driving, but I am definitely a culprit in calling my parents to work out family logistics, and absolutely use car phone to make most of my life’s appointments, including hair salons and doctors visits.

So, how do these differ from the phone call when you absolutely know that the person is doing something completely distracting… Is the message they are sending you that they don’t care enough about you to show the right etiquette? Or are they just believing that the modern world is full of multi-taskers like them and that there is nothing impolite, inconsiderate or discourteous about such behaviour? Or maybe, they actually believe that you can’t actually hear them typing anyway?

As with so many etiquette conundrums, it seems, there is no absolute consensus of opinion around multitasking. However, after some research (and discounting the obvious solution – to buy a silent keyboard  which merely makes the culprit more clever but no less devoid of etiquette!) I discovered the following “Do’s and Don’ts” from Good Phone Etiquette in the Home Office

When the telephone is your business lifeline, good phone manners count.

By Laureen Miles Brunelli, About.com Guide

  • Don’t read texts, email or instant messages while talking on the phone. If necessary close these programs or turn off your monitor, so you aren’t tempted to read.
  • Don’t type while on the phone. Your caller may be able to hear you typing.
  • Don’t multitask excessively when talking on the phone. This would include surfing the web while talking. You may be able to do some simple tasks that don’t involve reading or writing, but it’s better not to.
  • Do try to keep the caller on the subject at hand. Your attention is more likely to wander when your caller goes off on a tangent. Tactfully guide the subject back and/orend the call professionally.
  • Don’t allow others to interrupt you while you are on the phone. Other members of the household should know your ground rules regarding interruptions. Put the caller on hold briefly (and only one time) until you can give him or her your full attention.
  • Do ask to speak to the caller at a later time, setting a time for when you or the caller will phone again.

Today’s article is co-written by Sarah H-W and Ursula Z.

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All’s fair in love… except when you’re fighting!

fight fair

 

My boyfriend and I had our first fight. It doesn’t really matter what it was about, though, my happy readers, you will support me when I say that I was right, and he was very, very wrong. But this doesn’t actually matter for the sake of this article… what’s important is fighting fair, and with, of course, the right etiquette.

Romantic arguments are different to regular arguments with friends, colleagues and/or family. Romantic arguments tend to be loaded with expectations, and more precisely, not meeting expectations of each other and what we want, and need, in the most significant person in our lives. The person we want to trust with our deepest and darkest secrets and fears, and know that they will not use this knowledge to hurt us… but along the way there can be arguments that are much less weighty, and yet, can trigger painful emotions to surface, and depending on how you deal with that pain, it can, and often does, cause you to overreact and possibly lead to the break down of the relationship.

When people fight fair, then they can take emotion out, and realise that the cause of the argument rarely is the core of the problem.

Arguments, in themselves, are negative energy. That energy is triggered by many things, like fatigue, anxiety, being overwhelmed, dissatisfaction, loss, etc. The one thing they have in common, is that they are unhappy emotions, ie, not joyful. So, if your partner then behaves in a way that exacerbates your already weakened state, then it can only make things worse.

I’m sure you can think of many times your partner has said or done something that you thought was funny. But if you’re in a negative state, then you rarely find the humour in it.

So, how to fight fair in love? Well, the best thing to do is to try, yes, try, to present your argument as a discussion, not an assault. Present how the behaviour hurt you. It’s often that men, as is the case with my boyfriend, have no clue that they are being hurtful. I don’t really know how that happens, but I’ve heard it from so many of my girlfriends reporting that their partners are oblivious to their behaviour, that now I just consider it plausible.

Also, do try to take the emotion out of it. It’s difficult sometimes, yes, most of the time, but given that they are oblivious, then being rational and explaining the triggers and the effects tend to be enough. Going on and on about it normally makes them become cranky. So now they’re in the negative state.

It does seem that men only want to be told these things once… going over the same thing tends to make them deaf (another confirmation from my girlfriends), though, weirdly, it’s precisely because men continue to behave the same way that we actually do need to repeat ourselves… but therein lies the answer… they are deaf. Oh, dear.

Humour aside, Psych 101 clearly states that the only time to communicate so that you are really being heard is outside of an argument…. during quiet and relaxed moments.

So, etqt declares that the only real way to fight fair, is when you’re not fighting at all. So, what’s the point.

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To tag, or not to tag?

tagged

 

At a fun dinner party last night, the topic of Facebook was raised. My friend, who must remain nameless, was recounting how she had been photographed in an unflattering pose during a recent holiday with close friends.

She is an avid horse rider, and after a long ride, she was resting on a log, with her legs relaxed, but slightly laid apart, and her hair, though clean, had helmet head, her friends decided to take some photos, as souvenirs.

All of this did not bother my friend in the least, but what did bother her, is that on returning home from her weekend away, she switched on her computer and decided to see how the rest of her world was faring on Facebook, only to find this less than elegant photo of her, and her friends declaring how fantastic a weekend they had had.

Though my friend has a very relaxed nature, she was taken aback that such a photo could so easily be published, without her approval, let alone without her acknowledgement.

Her name had been tagged, so she did have the option to untag herself, but that left her wondering how many photos there were of herself that she didn’t even know about. And also why a friend of her would publish photos that were not attractive.

This got me thinking about how people do easily publish photos of friends, or family, without their consent, and even if we do tag them, we feel we have ownership of those photos, so have every right to do whatever we please with them.

I’m definitely a culprit of this behaviour. I’m always taking snaps with my iPhone whenever I want a souvenir. I also use Facebook as a means of sharing my life’s activities with my friends, family and their extended friends. I’ve set up the privacy controls to limit strangers from accessing my page and photos, but, to be honest, I don’t really know if the privacy extends to those who I tag in my photos.

So, I decided, that I’d better check the correct etiquette when it comes to publishing photos and tagging on my social networks like Facebook, tumblr, Twitter,  instagram, etc.

On doing research about Facebook, and how it differs to other social media, is that we consider Facebook profiles our portrayal of ourselves. We upload status’s and photos in the hope to define ourselves to others. We choose how much, or how little, we want to share. Some people like to share their social experiences, whereas, some don’t. Some, like me, have many friends in distant countries, and who like to publicise to their friends what’s going on, in a way to keep the geographical distance seem less distant. And the level of privacy varies amongst individuals just as much as any other factor with communication in our lives.

Having said that, it’s still considered bad form to tag friends in photos without their prior consent. If the circle of communication were closed, it might be more tolerable, but given that it’s impossible to contain the reach of anything on the internet, it is just considerate, thoughtful and yes, the right etiquette, to leave all parties untagged until they do so themselves.

I have just checked my daughters Facebook page, and it’s not surprising, but still disconcerting, to see how many of her friends (of which I have met about 25%), have tagged her in photos. Thankfully, I do know where she is at any given time (she’s 13 years old), so I’m never surprised by the parties, but I am surprised by the number of tags to other teenagers Facebook pages.

Tumblr and instagram posts seem to be driven by the account holder. Yes, comments can always be made that may upset you, but typically you are the one to instigate the conversation, so you have the control of what people see about yourself.

Twitter is more like a news feed, and also typically driven by you, the author. It does seem to be more about getting information about others, or just sharing snippets of information about yourself. Less weighty than it’s cousin Facebook.

Maybe it’s generational, and maybe there are variations to this issue that I need to consider. I’m sure that in a year of two, there will be media coverage of some famous person who’s privacy is invaded to such a degree that laws will be implemented to protect the rest of us.

Till then, keep discreet, stay considerate, and keep tuned in here. Above all, if your friend is in your photo, let them know, and let them tag themselves if they feel inclined.

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Hey kids, what’s with the middle finger!!!

middle finger

I have a thirteen year old. She is a contemporary. She has diverse interests, and also mainstream addictions with her mobile phone and apps like Instagram and Facebook, and lots I can’t recall. Last night she hosted her first party. Yes, she’s had lots of birthday parties, but most of them included lots of parents, lots of entertainment in the form of clowns, pets, rides or bouncy castles. This was her first party where none of these would factor. We did hire a great DJ, but otherwise it was all very simple.

They had a fantastic time. She invited 70 boys and girls, who stood around sheepishly in their respective gender corners for about an hour, and then miraculously merged into a sea of dancing bodies for another two and a half hours. There was lots of soft drinks, pizzas and junk food. Perfect combination for sugar zealots. Parents were not asked to join in, but to stay a safe distance in the front of the house.

She melted into her bed afterwards with a smile stamped on her face. This mum was pleased.

This morning we perused her photos. There were over 800 taken (phew!). Most of the photos were of happy faces. Young teens enjoying themselves without a care in the world. 450 of these photos made their way to a Facebook album.

But why, oh why, do these kids need to stick their middle finger up for the photos?

I just don’t get it!

I know these kids. I see them every day. Not once have I seen them strike these gestures out in the street. Nor when they meet each other, nor when they speak with anyone for that matter. I didn’t see them use this gesture amongst themselves during the party. And yet, one in every four photos included that dreaded middle finger. Most often it was the boys doing so, and yet, there were a few girls who repeatedly offered it up too.

I got to thinking what is it that makes people, including kids, behave like this. The correct etiquette is obvious… but just in case, it should never, under any circumstance be done. Or should it? On further research, I started looking at various hand gestures, and which ones are acceptable, which one’s aren’t. As with most rules of etiquette, it really depends on culture and geography.

etiquette 101 gestures 4

It’s quite amazing how many gestures have more than one meaning. Above image taken from a past issue of Conde Naste Traveller’s magazine.

I’ve discussed this with my children at length. I’ve explained to them that gestures like these are disrespectful. It is likely that most people make these gestures after being provoked. But, nevertheless, it’s much more appropriate to remain silent. Silence has much more impact. It also gives you time to gather your wits, and if necessary speak more specific and deliberate words.

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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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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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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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