My boyfriend is addicted to texting. If he’s not watching his phone for an email or text, he’s playing some stupid game, which he says relaxes him. We may be waiting for our food in a restaurant and he’s on some app while I pretend I’m not perturbed. Even watching a movie or show, he can’t keep his eyes off his cellphone. He has a serious addiction and I don’t know how to get him to pay less attention to his apps and more to me. Do you think it matters if I wait until after Valentine’s Day to text him saying I’m breaking up with him?
Dear Elizabeth,When relationships rely on texting for communicating, misunderstandings can occur. The last thing you want to do is to break up by way of a text. How would you feel if someone was that heartless to you? It is the same cold behavior you're complaining (rightfully) about. Get this out in the open before Valentine's Day to clear the air and move on and away from lingering arrows and future sorrows. Its hurtful to be ignored. Stand up for yourself or move on. Be clear: There is a time to use it and a time to put it aside.
What are the rules about striking through your name on calling cards and stationery?
–Anoymous, New York, New York
Dear Anoymous,Striking out the last name or the whole name and writing in by hand the first name the person uses in conversation with you is a friendly gesture. A common social nuisance in a greeting. If I were asking someone to donate money to a charity in a form letter that said Dear Mr. and Mrs. Brown, I would put a line through Mr. and Mrs. Brown and with a pen write in above Mrs. and Mrs. Brown: Jane and John. Traditionally, striking a slash through the last name means you are on a first name basis with the person to whom you are sending, say, a Christmas card. It is a gentle reminder as to which Olivia (assuming the person knows more than one Olivia) you are, you become further identified by your last name, which becomes slashed out. Meaning you are on a first name basis. However, you wouldn't put a slash through your last name on a calling card or on business or personal stationery. It isn't done, unless you have changed your name and writing your new name above the old one while you're waiting for your new calling cards and stationery to be delivered. For instance, if you are a newly wed. In our time of massive emails and curt texts, a handsome calling card and stationery stand out. They make an excellent impression. Here are bespoke calling cards from The Printery in Oyster Bay, New York, that create a lasting memory. Seriously, would you strike out your last name on any of these attractive calling cards?
With Valentine’s Day approaching, I’m contemplating dropping my boyfriend ‘the Texter,’ as my friends call him, because he prefers a 2-D relationship to spending real time with me. I want to tell him face to face that occasional sexting doesn’t compensate for warm and cuddly or spontaneous conversation. I want to read his facial expressions and interpret the tone of his voice. Is that too much to ask from someone who he calls me his girlfriend?
–AGT, Brooklyn, NY
Dear AGT,Think of texting as maintenance. Obviously there is a right way of texting to strengthen your relationship and knowing there's a wrong way that only creates distance. There are things you shouldn't be texting about. For instance new information that could leave one of you wondering during the downtime, when you're not texting, that something is new or amiss. Just because you can tell anything to anyone at anytime doesn't mean you necessarily should. For instance, if you had applied for a new dream job that came through and he waited a couple of hours to text back "Gratz!" Wouldn't you be annoyed that he waited so long and didn't seem as thrilled as you would have liked him to be, if you had waited to tell him in person? Level with him. You're not on the same playing field. You're looking for romance and he's still into his x-box. Maybe it is time to move on. Tell him how you feel. Set guidelines about spending time together. Tell him you both have to save the important conversations like your acing your dream job -- or wanting to break up with him because you you two don't get enough face time -- so that he can see your glow when you're with him, or you his disappointment that you're dumping him.
Wedding etiquette is changing and we’re not sure how to respond. We received a save-the-date card which has a link to the couple’s wedding website. Apparently, the invitation will be on that website two months prior to the wedding. We even reply to the website, and all the information (dates, times, accommodations, bridal registry, dress code) is on that website. Our problem is that we are organic farmers and don’t use or own a computer. My son is actually writing to you for me, so that we can find out what to do. The groom is my husband’s nephew, so we want to do what’s right.
Dear Helen,You are not alone wondering about the wedding etiquette of the wedding couple's website. Write to the address on the save-the-date saying: We don't have access to a computer. Then ask if you can be sent a printout of the pertinent information that's on the website. Or ask your son if he would respond for you and relay the information to you. Because you will want to make a reservation ahead of time at one of the lodgings that is being recommended in order to qualify for a reduced rate. Usually a block of rooms is reserved for wedding guests, but there is a cutoff date. This is something you might want to take advantage of by calling the motel as soon as you know its name. You'll need to use a credit card to book the room.
My niece is getting married in LA. Dec 3 2016. Wedding starts at 5:00pm and goes until midnight. Groomsmen and fathers are wearing tuxs. Color theme is white, black and gold. As a guest, should I wear a long dress or short cocktail dress or is either appropriate?
Dear Ro,The wedding etiquette dress code for a five o'clock wedding is on the edge of long or short dress, evening gown or cocktail dress. Look at the invitation, which should arrive at least a month before the wedding, for the dress code. If you can't wait that long, try to find the wedding couple's wedding website by going to such sites as theknot.com. If the couple have decided on the dress code, it might be listed already on their website. The thing about weddings is that between now and September (when the wedding invitations will be ordered) the dress code could change, which is why we suggest that you chat up the family to find out what guests are wearing. These days, even when the bridal party is wearing tuxedos and long dresses, the dress codes for the guests may not be as dressy. If the wedding invitation doesn't state Black Tie or Formal Attire, as the bride's aunt you would wear an elegant and dignified cocktail dress that falls to, or just below, your knees, whichever you prefer. Add beautiful shoes and carry a small chic evening bag. You can't go wrong with a well-made gorgeous cocktail dress. If the invitation ends up stating Black Tie, you get bump it up a notch with jewelry -- even faux pearls. For instance, for you, I like this embroidered v-nect short sleeve Carolina Herrera cocktail dress because it is elegant and dignified, yet fun. Or this black floral-lace cuff jacket over a floral-lace sheath dress, which has quite a few lovely details that don't really show up here:
About wedding invitation etiquette. Our daughter and her fiancé are insisting on including a reply card with their wedding invitation. It has a cut-off date for responding and a list of entree preferences: vegan, filet mignon, or halibut. Since the invitations will be received six weeks before the reception dinner, how do guests know that far in advance what they’ll want to eat?
If they came to our house for dinner, they certainly wouldn’t be given a choice of three entrees!
As the hosts, we should be able to serve one entree and have the caterer prepare a smaller amount of vegan entrees for those who don’t eat meat.
Why do we even need a reply card? Why can’t the guest write us a short note telling us whether or not they are attending? If they can’t write us a polite note, do we really want them at our daughter’s wedding?
–Anonymous, Savannah, GA
Dear Anonymous,People are talking about the changes in the etiquette of the wedding invitation. The problem runs deep. Don't get your knickers in a twist. The millennials (a third of the US population born between 1980-2000+) simply don't know how to write a note in longhand. This generation, also called Generation Y, was never taught penmanship as we know it. It was not part of their school curriculum; they were taught how to type instead of learning cursive writing, the Palmer Method. The purpose of the cutoff date is to give the caterer an accurate headcount. If you tell the caterer you are feeding fifty guests and only forty-two actually show up, you will be charged for eight uneaten dinners. Why? Because the caterer will have to buy the food and arrange for waitstaff in advance. About having an entree choice. It is about waste. It is about pleasing your guest. Making sure they are fed so that the alcohol is absorbed before getting in their car and driving home. Your guests who have strict dietary concerns know how to deal with this. Beforehand they will let you know that they have an allergy to seafood or nuts. Those dealing with sugar, salt, dairy, and gluten restrictions will snack ahead of time, and eat what part of the meal being served they can digest properly. You're hosting guests who, predominately, have the 'me first' mentality. The host and the caterer are best served, if they know ahead of time who eats what.
All invitations are courtesy of The Printery, Locust Valley, New York.
How do we coordinate the wedding dress code for the mothers and grandmothers?
My daughter is getting married in December and it will be at 4:00 pm. Should the mothers of the bride and groom wear short or long dresses and does the grandmother of the bride also wear the same length as they do?
Dear Kandee,The mother-of-the-bride sets the wedding dress code for the mothers based on the dress code set by the bride and groom. The time of day and venue of the wedding is also a factor. The earlier in the day the wedding, the less dressier the dress code. A four o'clock wedding probably isn't Black Tie or Formal Attire. It is Suits and Dresses. Meaning Cocktail Attire: Business suits and knee-length cocktail dresses. A four o'clock wedding would be cocktail attire for the guests even if the bridal party is wearing tuxedos and long dresses. Which leads the mothers and fathers of the wedding couple deciding and agreeing on how dressy their attire will be for the wedding. In my opinion, the mothers and fathers of the bride and groom would wear cocktail attire for a four o'clock wedding. The grandparents would follow suit. If you, the mother-of-the-bride, are wearing a knee-length dress, then the grandmother of the bride would wear a cocktail dress or a dinner suit. Also, called a evening suit, it is cocktail length -- the length for a grandmother is just below her knees -- and is made of a lightweight fabric, such as a thick silk (or silk and wool blend in winter) and it is decorated with pretty buttons and/or piping. A sheath with a coordinating jacket would also be lovely. The reason for the jacket is to cover the arms in December. Most grandmothers seem to prefer to have their arms covered and a dressy jacket does the trick. Think about the wedding photos because they'll be around long after the wedding. After choosing an elegant and dignified style, consider color. Personally I love the look directly above of the bride in white and the mother and grandmother in white and black. The grandmother should wear a color that compliments your dress in the same tone. For instance, if you're wearing cobalt blue, she would wear navy blue. Here are examples below -- although it is not a color I would choose -- but you understand the concept: the grandmother, the bride, and the mother-of-the-bride with the older women wearing outfits close in color that fall just below the knees: Here is another nice pairing although it is obviously a summer wedding, you get the idea:
What is this business with what they call the Honey Register? We’ve been invited to the wedding of our good friends’ daughter. The bride and groom are asking guests to put money into their honeymoon wedding trip registry! I should add that my husband and the bride’s father are in business together. Nevertheless, buying the bride a piece of silver for her pattern or a set of towels or a toaster oven is one thing, but giving them cash to go to the Maldives is outrageous. Do we have to give in to this request, or can we send her a set of embroidered guest towels?
–Frugal, Crosby, Maine
Dear Frugal,People are talking about bridal registries. "The times they are a changin,'" as Bob Dylan reminded us decades ago. No, you do not have to contribute to the Honey Register. A register asking a guest to contribute money for a honeymoon, a downpayment on an apartment, or for a house restoration is merely a suggestion. Nowadays, because many couples are living together longer before getting married and marrying later in life, they've already set up housekeeping and thus own the requisite toaster oven, towels, etc. What the wedding couple are telling you is that they don't want or need: a candy dish, ice bucket, measuring cups, or a blender. What they're asking for is an experience. A memory they can Snapshot and Instagram and talk about with their friends, and children, one day. If they fit the profile of the modern working couple, then they would probably benefit from a vacation. There are no rules carved in stone dictating you have to give the wedding couple what they are asking for, because any kind of a bridal register is not de rigueur.
About when families host visitors. When my teenage daughter’s boyfriend visits he always leaves the toilet seat up. Is there a polite way to ask him to put the toilet seat down after he’s flushed?
My husband and I encourage our daughter to spend time at home with her boyfriend instead of living in fear of what she’s doing and where they are. We want them to feel safe and happy in our home, but he needs to learn to put the seat back down. By the way, he has two brothers and no sister.
–Anonymous, Providence, RI
Dear Anonymous,How families behave and react toward visitors matters. It's up to your teenage daughter to gently give her boyfriend the headsup about the toilet seat. All she has to do is to say, "I know you have two brothers, but in our house my parents are really big on the toilet seat being put down when you're done. It's like a rule of the house. Can you humor them, please. Thank you!"
About blended families. My stepchildren have horrible manners. It makes it difficult when they visit because they are a few years older and my children tend to copy their barbarous behavior. When my stepchildren have gone home to their mother and I try to correct the copycat behavior of my own brood, I need to do so without putting down my stepchildren or their mother.
It’s like I’m dealing with two cultures. How should this be handled? For instance, it makes good table manners hard to reinforce.
–EB, Cambridge, MA
Dear EB,This is a common problem in many families. In your house you set the rules. Be consistent by enforcing 'the rules of the house.' The rules include table manners. Saying "please' and 'thank you,' putting down the toilet seat, clearing their plate, putting away toys, etc. Make a list. Post it where the children of every height can see it. Even if they can't read, they'll know that it is there and you can point to "brush your teeth," if you have to. Should one of your stepchildren question you as to, for instance, why they have to use a knife and fork when they don't need to at home, simply say: In a family, especially the size of ours, which includes you, there have to be rules or there is chaos. In this family, in this house we follow a set of rules and manners. The point you're making to all the children is that in your house rules and table manners are important. If they're all young enough to have a chart where they add stars for following the rules, use one.
Who has the right of way?
Walking down a crowded city sidewalk pushing my baby in his stroller and chatting with my five-year old son beside me, we approach three college-age men engaged in banter. There were three of us and three of them, but I’m the dad with a baby and little kid by my side. Shouldn’t they have formed a line to let us pass? My five-year-old said to me, “Dad who had the right of way, just then? Why did you stop and let them go by, I’m going be late for school.?” Who had the right of way, Didi?
Dear PLB,About who has the right of way on the sidewalk. As the elder, you had the right of way. Because you were on a crowded city sidewalk with your charges a couple of feet below you, your kids were in harm's way of being trampled. By stopping you could focus and take control. Without giving it a second thought, the college students should have politely fallen in single file and passed by you one by one, or two by one, depending on the amount of space.
What to say about my younger boss’s manners. He is not a gentleman.
On our way to a sales call, my 32-year old boss barreled through the door ahead of me without waiting and holding the door open like a proper gentleman. I wondered to myself if he does this with his beautiful wife and sweet mother? Why is he treating me like one of “the guys?”
Working for this millennial guy makes me feel old for the first time. I find it irritating that he is a VP of Sales and lacks basic manners. He’s never given me the impression he is worried about his skill set, so I keep my mouth closed and don’t complain. However, we did have a showdown over his habit of wearing wrinkled clothing; I finally had it out with him when I was completely embarrassed by his attire after going to one of the top Columbus law firms. At least now he does make an effort to wear crisp shirts and actually looks handsome and pretty “GQ” — a bit of a surprise.
What are your thoughts?
–Anonymous, Columbus, Ohio
Dear Anonymous,About the death of the gentleman. In a gentle manner, over the course of time, remind your millennial boss that potential clients size up a person in a nanosecond. What they evaluate, according to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, is the person's level of trustworthiness: Can they trust this person? Can they respect this person? Personal appearance and attire, as superficial as this sounds, are nearly as important as personal behavior. Facetiously ask, "Didn't anyone ever teach you basic good manners?" Point out that the first thing people notice is whether you are male or female, your race, coloring, build and level of attractiveness. You say he's attractive now, but remind him as he approaches forty, to get by he'll need to hone his soft skills and work on his manners. It seems like he doesn't know any better, which is why you shouldn't take his lack of manners personally -- although not holding the door open for you was extremely rude. If you were a man he wouldn't hold the door open for you. Why don't you have some fun with him. Next time you sense the same situation approaching, skip ahead, hold open the door and let him pass through. You need not say a word. Keep in mind the fact that a third of the population are Millennials (born between 1980-2000), that they are the largest generational set in America, and that many of them live by the FOMO mantra -- Fear Of Missing Out. If you want to be a helpful employee, subtly refine the manners of your "me first" Millennial boss with a lot of humor. He may even thank you one day.
During the holidays, because I’m out and about socializing, I am more aware of people touching me. What is the appropriate touch back? My southern friend is always very chummy in a cozy way, but I’m not used to chatting in such a physically tight manner arm and arm. And yet I find it warming. When greeting most friends, when we approach I’m not sure if we’re both aiming a kiss toward a cheek or their lips.
–SR, Brooklyn, NY
Dear SR,About kissing and what you need to know about kissing and touching, but not the hug. It is a common social dilemma. With strangers, the largest study ever conducted shows it is best to stick to a handshake, because most people have a deep reluctance to being touched by a stranger anywhere but on their hands.
- An example of an exception would be meeting the in-laws for the first time. You've heard about them and they've been in your life even though you've never met in the flesh.
At a recent gathering of friends and acquaintances I found myself embarrassed by a biased remark I made about an ethnic group. Considering myself a Democrat with a capital D, I fumbled to recover from what came out as a prejudiced commentary on Italians. Fortunately, a savvy friend piped in to censor and salvage the conversation. What would you have done?
Dear Anonymous,Biases abound. We all wander off our moral compass at times; stereotyping is not limited to those who are biased. In social conversation it is harder to backtrack and say, "Well there are Italians and there are Italians, the way there are Greeks and there are Greeks." Because you're still being prejudiced against good and bad examples of a specific social order or race. Even David Bowie, the forward-looking songwriter who wrote about being an outsider -- a misfit, an alien, an explorer of human impulses that could not be qualified made seemingly pro-fascist statements that he promptly renounced. Ditch over-analyzing or dwelling on a past faux pas; rather focus on the present and what can be done in a proactive manner to redeem yourself. Try to keep from making hurtful remarks in the future. Bias is a habit worth breaking.
After the Break Up
All About Weddings
Dress Code & Grooming