Category Archives: Friendship

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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Loss, and the etiquette of Loss

funeral

I am at a loss. Yesterday a friend lost her husband to cancer. I am close enough to her to want to show her how sad I am for her and her children, and that I am available for her to ask me to help her or her children with anything, but not close to her husband, and don’t know what is the right behaviour in the coming days and weeks.

I trusted my gut instinct and called her this morning, and thought I’d get her voice mail. To my surprise, she picked up the phone. She was, understandably very sad and emotional. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was so moved that she even picked up my call. We shared the injustice of his illness, and how he was taken so quickly, and she shared with me how fortunate she was to have spent 30 years with this man.

But what happens next? It is such an uncommon occurrence, so I just don’t know what is the right protocol. Again, I lean on those who know, and find myself guided by their experience, and then want to apply my sensitivity and closeness to her and her family.

Yes, I have experienced loss before. Mostly when I was much younger as aging relatives died, and was mostly guided by my parents behaviour.

Now, I must firstly check their religious faith, as I don’t know what is customary; does one wear black, or should I send flowers, or do people select worthy causes for donations?

Secular ceremonies have various forms of honouring their family and friends, and this note by no means aims to standardise mourning and loss. But, after doing some research, it seems that there are changes to some of the past behaviour that I thought still in practice.

It seems that it is no longer expected to wear black to funerals. Tasteful attire, covering up shoulders (though bare arms seem acceptable), and skirt or dress length need be at least above the knee or longer. Pants are acceptable, though shorts are not.

Offering up condolences are acceptable, and it seems that as long as the message is sincere and thoughtful, then it can be by phone, by mail, in a condolence card or note, or even by email. It’s not wise to send a condolence by text.

It’s important to reach out to people you may know that are close to the family of the departed. They will let you know if there is a funeral, which is often kept for close family and friends, and if there is a memorial service for the extended friends, colleagues and other people who want to show their sympathy.

Gifts, such as wreaths and other flowers, are still thoughtful gifts, to add gaiety and colour to the ceremony. If a donation is preferred, the family will let you know in the lead up to the service.

It is however, considered most important to attend the service, whether at the funeral, the cemetary, memorial or the wake, and to offer a kind word to the family of the deceased. Though they will be wrought by sadness, they will still appreciate the kindness of those around them.

Rushing to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while after the service should be muted to a respectful murmur.

From the UK etiquette experts – Debrett’s – taken from¬†http://www.debretts.com/etiquette/rites-of-passage/death/miss-debrett-on-funerals.aspx

Miss Debrett’s Top Tips

  • Take your lead from the chief mourners and never outdo them.
  • Switch off your mobile, don’t whisper during the service and maintain an air of dignified discretion.
  • Keep your behaviour sober and restrained at the post-funeral gathering; remember this is a wake, not a party.

Loss in death is the worst grief one experiences in life. Offering up any small gesture of kindness will aid the grieving process.

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