Thank you for using good manners

by Dating Goddess on January 9, 2011

When leaving my exercise class at an elementary school auditorium, this sign caught my eye. It made me think it ought to be posted at coffee shops to remind daters to use their manners!

Why did this cross my mind?

I had another date that left me scratching my head. I checked with a couple of male pals to see if I had too-high expectations.

“What happened?” you ask.

We’d talked, texted and emailed for a few weeks as we worked out a mutually available evening. There seemed to be a shared interest.

When I arrived at the nearly empty coffee shop, he was sitting at a table typing on his phone. I stood opposite him and said “Hello.” He looked up from his phone and said “Hello.”

He didn’t rise to greet me. I can’t remember a date not rising when I appeared, and then either offer a hand or a hug. Heck, I rise on first meeting someone at an appointment whether male or female.

I sat down. He said, “Let me send this email.” I watched as he finished typing.

He asked if I wanted something to drink, then got up to order and fetch it. OK, this guy has some manners.

We had an enjoyable conversation. After 90 minutes, the shop began closing. He said, “We need to go.” I stood up, took my coat from the chair and donned it. He rose and stepped back from the table, which I thought was odd. Did he find me so odious he was stepping away? Was he scared of me? I said, “Give me a hug,” which he did. He followed me to the door. I opened the door into the night.

Upon exiting, he said, “I’m parked over there,” pointing in the opposite direction than my car. “I’m over there,” I said. “It was nice to meet you,” he said and turned to walk to his car.

It’s been a long time since a man didn’t offer to walk me to my car after dark.

So was this man without basic manners? Or was I expecting too much? I chocked it up to he wasn’t into me and was doing only the minimal of niceties. My male friends tell me that when a man is into a woman, he’ll put his hand out to take her coat when she reaches for it. He makes sure to open doors, and would always want just a few more minutes with her by walking her to her car to ensure she reached it safely. Heck, if he was into her, he’d say, “The coffee shop is closing. I’m enjoying our conversation. Would you like to continue over a bite to eat?”

However, when I arrived home he texted me that he enjoyed meeting me and liked our conversation. If he wasn’t interested, why would he text? It was a non-committal text that didn’t suggest another encounter. I responded to him that I liked our conversation, too, and he said he’d call me soon. I figured I’d never hear from him again.

Two days later, he texted then called. I said I was surprised to hear from him. He asked why, and I said I didn’t think he was interested in me. He sounded incredulous and asked why. I pointed out the not walking to my car and the tepid follow-up text. He said he could see me walking to my car and saw I was safe.

I learned from a wise person to make sure the other person knows of your efforts, as they won’t think you care if they don’t know. That’s not to say you should announce every nice thing you do for another, but make sure you say, “I filled up your gas tank” or “I made sure to get the brand of OJ you like” or “I hunted for two-toned flowers and finally found the ones you like.” (These are sort of lame examples, but I hope you get what I mean.)

So in dating, if you are attracted to someone you need to show it clearly, otherwise the person may not know.

What are your expectations of manners in dating? Do you give the other person a little slack on first meeting? Or do you think if s/he isn’t conscious of manners at the very beginning it won’t improve?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie January 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Of course it will not improve! If you accept his bare-minimum standards that’s all the effort he’ll put out. First impressions seem not to be perceived by him as pivotal, which suggests that later impressions will receive even less thought. He’s got several strikes against him, but the not greeting you properly and not walking you to your car leaves me shaking my head incredulously. If you’re ever going to cut someone some slack, it’s NOT at the first meeting. First meetings are all about best behavior!

Mark January 10, 2011 at 7:11 am

I’ve never had a similar experience. The women I have dated have all been particularly polite and courteous. As a man, I have also never experienced a woman being put off by too much politeness, manners, small courtesies, etc. (As long as it’s sincere, appropriate attention in the moment.) Maybe this man was afraid he’d come on too strong if he was too attentive? Not trying to make an excuse for him but maybe he was never taught, and never picked up on, such manners. This in itself might be a problem … would he want to learn and change? Is he capable of it? Is helping him something in which you’d want to invest? His quick response to the car question might suggest he’d not be too amenable to change.

Lisa January 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm

At the very least, this guy should not have let his cell phone interfere with your first meeting. I can’t stand when people live their life at the mercy of their gadgets. I had a guy once take a call during our first coffee “date” and proceed to talk away. He was self employed and said it was business. Please. As if the world would stop spinning if the person had to leave a message.

Maybe this guy was a little nervous with the hug or coat thing, but at the very least he should have walked you to your car. But you can’t necessarily attribute it to deliberate boorishness. I actually have a friend who is very intellectually smart, etc. but who also has pretty sloppy social skills. When he had gone on a first date with a woman, I asked if he had walked her to her car. He said he did not because they were parked in opposite directions. I had to explain to him that it was not about logic!!

When I first met him, I thought he might be someone I could date, but the more I got to know him the more I realized it would always be a challenge for him to say or do even close to the right thing, no matter how good his intentions were. And he is a good person. I guess it depends on how much you need or want those little tokens of care. This guy sounds a little like my friend. He might be a great person, but you might always have to be telling him what you want. That gets old.

Julie January 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I think some of our questions about men are better answered by men. No, not discounting what others said. The two aren’t related. What I mean is… if I posed the question in this blog, I would be attentive to Mark’s answer in this case.

The not walking to car and then his response later about it are red flags. Keeping red flags in mind, is there enough to pursue here… can he be trained? You could give him another try or two…. ? You could try telling him that walking to car is important to you, and his response to your comment “I pointed out the not walking to my car and the tepid …” made you feel a disconnect that gives you pause… (but be sure to say it matter of fact)… if he responds in a ‘bad’ way… there’s your answer… if he responds wonderfully after you took the time to thoroughly explain it, perhaps a diamond in the rough!

I’d give him that test… just explain it nicely in more detail to see how he responds…. but let him seek you out – next time u communicate, use that opportunity see how curious he is and how much he tries to understand and then respond appropriately.. I think that’s the sign of a caring man.

At lease then u feel you’ve given it a real try without putting much effort in to it other than explaining something that’s important to you.

“Not trying to make an excuse for him but maybe he was never taught, and never picked up on, such manners. This in itself might be a problem … would he want to learn and change? Is he capable of it? Is helping him something in which you’d want to invest? His quick response to the car question might suggest he’d not be too amenable to change.”

Lisa January 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm

It is worth pondering how much you’d want to invest in getting that person to change their manners. For example, the friend I mentioned in my first reply has a horrible habit of eating while holding his fork in his fist, like a child, then shoveling the food in his mouth. I find it hard to watch, but I am his friend, not his mother. If I were dating him, I would definitely say something. It’s embarassing. This guy may be ok. My friend is always shocked too when he does or says something that a woman finds ill mannered. He just doesn’t know. But then, do you want to be a mother or a girlfriend?

A different Mark January 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm

The guy seems a bit socially unaware but…maybe on balance he’s a good guy.

Let’s face it — if we pair off with someone for the long run, there will be habits and personality issues about that other person we will find less than ideal. A loving relationship is about acceptance. We all have our warts, foibles, and shortcomings.

Matters of the heart are not a science. You can draw up all the lists of desirable and undesirable traits in the world, but without love they don’t really matter so much, and with love so much can be worked through.

Be a giving person. Be the person who wants to give the back rub rather than receive it. And then find another giving person. It’s really nice how well this works.

Karen January 11, 2011 at 4:05 am

I’ve heard all this “diamonds in the rough” stuff and I’ve decided, after dating a string of these guys, that I’m out of the jewelry business. Seriously, if a man hasn’t picked up minimal manners by middle age, he’s not going to change for me no matter how tactful I am in trying to correct him.

I want a guy who has decent social skills, is that too much to ask? I don’t really need a man to support me financially, give me children (any more), fight literal battles, or bring home a dead animal to eat. I want a man for companionship and physical intimacy–if he doesn’t have enough basic social skills to make it through a coffee date, it’s not going to work.

Mark January 11, 2011 at 7:47 am

I’ll share my recent experience here as it may be applicable to this discussion. My ex- slowly lost all interest in affection … we’ll leave it at that. My girlfriend is a very tactile, affectionate person. I was the same way growing up and into the first years of my marriage … I’m from what once was a very large, very affectionate ethnic family. My ex- helped me “unlearn” affection … especially in public. She wanted no hug, no peck on the cheek, not even the most minor hint of PDA. My girlfriend noticed that I acted differently with her when in public or in a group of friends. My level of touch or affection went to zero (and she’s dead right although it took a few situations like this for me to see it, feel it, and admit it). She wants me to show her affection in public … says it makes her feel like I’m not afraid to let the world know I love her, that she’s desired, and that I’m proud to be with her as she is with/of me. It’s not creepy PDA, I’d classify it as the kind of affection a father or mother would show a child in public … a hug, a peck on the cheek, holding hands, etc. She was patient enough for me to work through this, and it was very important to her that I did. Now, I have to make less of a conscious effort to do this … but at the start I did. Not because I’m not attracted to her or love her, but because my “untraining” had to be overcome. I’m very glad she pointed this out … lovingly … and allowed us the time to work through it.

Julie January 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I think there still are diamonds in the rough. I’ve noticed over time how a lot of entries seem harsh/impatient. What Mark said in quotes is what I had in mind.. there might be some guys who have been changed through time, but are open to to a little ‘untraining’… just be mindful of casting out someone because he is missing a certain quality/manners. At least check it out first and drop the attitude a little bit!

“I’m very glad she pointed this out … lovingly … and allowed us the time to work through it.”

Richard January 12, 2011 at 8:07 am

I can’t think of any reason why a guy has not learned to stand up when greeting someone. I actually think it is odd for the lady when she is seated at a table of gentlemen, and everyone else stands up to greet the newcomer, and she remains seated. Be that as it may.

The other events can get touchy with some ladies. The more “liberated” women bristle when a guy helps her with her coat, or opens a door for her. Like Mark said, maybe the guy needs to unlearn some behavior.

From a security stand point, if the guy walks you back to your car, he can use your license plate to find out where you live. Not a problem 99% of the time, but DG’s recent posts about “Need to feel safe” and “What was she thinking” makes you wonder if the level of preventative measures needs to be raised a notch or two.

Manners is like a dance. Sometimes the lady needs to do her part in order to help the guy do his part. I dated a lady once where manners was effortless. I didn’t realize it at first, but after playing back a few dates in my mind, I saw how she helped me be in a position to help her.

Wayne (Who feels left out that he's not a Mark) January 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Ok first of all let me start off with the statement my social skills are probably average, but I have become accustomed to opening doors for people (which includes car doors which tends to earn plenty brownie points)

Anyway let’s start with being on the phone when you got there, this geeza is sitting alone in a coffee shop, probably nervous, waiting to meet someone for the first time. To avoid overthinking the whole process he decides to do the whole internet thing (I think I would do the exact same).

Should he stand to greet you? This is a bit awkward because the rules about how to greet women are forever changing. Should it be a handshake? A kiss on the cheek? Hug? A kiss on the hand? (MiLady) So I don’t even know if I’d stand myself (it’s been an age since I have been in that situation). And I think the end of the night probably falls into the same category.

The walk to the car thing is a little odd, but maybe he didn’t want to put himself in the position of you getting to your car and then him not knowing if he should lean in for a kiss or not. Maybe he is just not one of those people and he is starting as he means to go on? (consistency is the key)

The question is are these deal breakers or not for some people I can see they would be for others they wouldn’t be, and some people would say if you were really into them then little things like that shouldn’t matter.

Side issue: The wise person is very right but I am totally guilty of not letting people know of my efforts but it feels like you are blowing your own trumpet and I’m not built that way!

By the way talking of manners what about these women that purposely turn up for dates late? Is that not bad manners? How long should a guy wait before he stops being courteous and starts being a mug?

Mitsy January 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I wasn’t impressed by the guy by the description of the first meeting. Likewise, I don’t ask for a hug from someone if I don’t know them & I would feel weird on a first date. Communication means everything and first impressions mean even more when it comes to dating. I think the guy didn’t make much effort myself, but let us know if he steps up to the plate later. I agree with another poster that you should expect much more in the beginning because if he isn’t making much effort now, it will only get worse later. Just my own experience talking here.

Jenny January 15, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I would give a guy a second chance if he didn’t walk me to my car, if all else was enjoyable and there was an attraction.

But I’ve been told I’m too picky by my friends. I had a date with someone I had met through work. We were going wine tasting. One of the first things he said to me when he asked me out was, “Now, don’t dress up like you do for work, this is casual.” RED FLAG for me. Maybe not for someone else, but I don’t do casual, according to my friends and family. That’s just me, and how I like to dress. He showed up in work out type shoes, jeans and a flannel shirt. Nothing wrong with that, but casual for me on wine tasting date, would have been for my date to wear khaki slacks. polo shirt and loafers. Sorry that’s just what I like. We all have our own style. Not a deal breaker and we had a great time.
But when he asked me if I liked hiking, camping, fishing and I said, “NO”, I knew we weren’t a match. I’ll trip on a paper clip on the floor, so imagine me hiking. Not a pretty picture. Good news is we are still friends.

Looking for the next coffee date, Somebodies Nana

Karen January 16, 2011 at 6:35 am

At this point in my life, I’m looking for a man mainly for companionship. So no, I would not be happy with a man who lacks basic manners or the ability to get along politely in a social group. I enjoy socializing with my friends and family and I’d want a man who could share this. I also personally don’t want to spend all my time with a guy who has bad manners and keeps offending me–I want a man who is enjoyable to spend time with.

I don’t see how this is being “negative”. I also don’t see it as trivial either because social skills make a huge difference to a person’s quality of life.

One of the older women at work (even older than me, LOL!) has a husband who she loves and to whom she has been married her whole life. But this guy is just a pain in the you know what to be around! She talks all the time about how hard it is to arrange a dinner a home with another couple, or even a weekend trip somewhere, without him flying off the handle or doing or saying something rude. He just doesn’t like being around other people. And she does. So her whole life revolves around trying placate him and apologize to her friends for his behavior. Other than that, he’s apparently been a good husband, faithful, made money, good father etc. But the social mismatch is still a problem.

Mitsy January 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

Karen, I can sympathize with your friend from work who is married to the social buffoon. I dated a guy for years who was socially retarded (for lack of a better word). Behavior that I could tolerate from him (his humor that was sometimes poking fun at me) would leave others cold or they thought he was actually serious about some of the things he said. I oftentimes covered for him and almost always felt like I did not have a relationship on par with my friends’ marriages. It was painful to know that others did not like him. For a long time, I could see the good qualities, but after a while, most women get tired of doing social clean-up after a husband who is either too immature or too uncaring to change his behavior.

I am willing to bet that your friend actually knows that others don’t care for her hubby too much and it’s painful to her (even if she doesn’t show it). I know that I never want another guy where I have to worry about what he’s going to say around others or what others think of him. Because I won’t tolerate the behavior I used to put up with (for the sake of keeping the relationship intact). I’m older but much wiser now. :)

Richard January 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Wayne: I think you are over thinking it. Typical analysis paralysis. It is not an excuse not to do what is right, just because you don’t know what to do next. – Doesn’t walk to her car because he doesn’t know if he should go in for the kiss? What does he do when he says goodbye at the restaurant? If you don’t know what to do, then do what is most conservative. If she wants more, hopefully she gives you a signal.

Manners question: Do you open the car door for her if she is driving and has the keys?

Spot February 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Hi, Long time since I have checked in here. Just went out on a date last week with someone new. He is going through a divorce and we have mutual friends. I returned his call last night and while I spoke with him he told me to hold on twice while he took a shot in the pool game he was playing. I know he is interested but I thought this was rude. Input?

danielle November 12, 2012 at 5:08 am

Not rude…he was busy but really wanted to talk to you. I would have just said looks like you are out, have fun and give me a call later.

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