Tag Archives: dating

Essential Etiquette

29 Sep

The way we behave is a large part of the image that we project. dining etiquetteOur actions have all sorts of repercussions, good and bad, and knowing how to conduct oneself in different situations can definitely work to your benefit.

The point of etiquette is to be considerate of others and make them comfortable by doing the right thing, the polite thing, the things that make people want to be around us. One of those nice things is the ability to work a dining table with grace and mindfulness of our company.

Bad table manners won’t get you another date

Many people have stories about rude dates that displayed behaviour that put them off. A few years ago, I wrote about social and clothing changes since the 1980s and took my influence from Love Connection, a dating show from that era. On the show, several people mentioned manners being important to them but unfortunately, their dates didn’t always politely come through.

For example, Del talked about her date with Donald and explained what it was like to go out to eat with him: “What was embarrassing was at dinner when Donald licked his knife… then he put his lobster shells on the bread tray, then he reached over to my plate and ate my food, so he enjoyed his and mine.”

Surprise! Donald didn’t get a second date.

Speaking of dates, a friend of mine had a date with a woman who was a friend of a friend. From this familiar association, he assumed that she’d be alright. Things may have turned out differently if she hadn’t arrived at their dinner date drunk and then ate from his plate.

I started seeing a fellow several years ago who I liked but because of his ill-mannered ways, I fled and didn’t look back. On our third and final date, we met for breakfast on a Saturday morning. I remember ordering eggs Florentine that came with some sort of potato on the side. He ordered an odd breakfast: salad and fried eggs over easy.

When the food came and we began eating, I had to look away because watching him shovel iceberg lettuce from a fork dripping with egg yolk into his mouth – that he didn’t close while chewing – was a disgusting sight. I was literally put off of my food. I laid my napkin over my plate and what was left of my breakfast.

“Are you going to eat that?” he asked.

“Uh, no,” I replied.

“Mind if I do?”

I should have seen this coming; the second time we saw each other, he came over to cook dinner with me. I keep dried beans, rice, grains, nuts and seeds in jars on a shelf in my kitchen. I had my back turned to him as we chatted and I cooked on the stove. I turned around at the very moment he was about to toss a handful of sunflower seeds he had poured out of one of the jars (without asking) into his mouth.

He didn’t see me again.

Good table manners might

On a first date breakfast with a different fellow, he caught some food in his throat and started coughing. I beckoned the waitress to bring some water for my friend who cleared the block with a sip of water and appreciated my gesture.

I got a second date and I felt classy.

Bad manners can cast a bad light on your person

I had to meet a client in a shopping mall food court one day. Behind my client was a very large man who I couldn’t help but notice as he stuffed mounds of processed food into his greasy mouth, then stuck a fat, oily index finger into his hole to dislodge the food from the inside of his cheeks.

What can I tell you? It was sickening to watch but I found myself unable to tear my eyes away, like I was looking at a car wreck. The state of this man, what he chose to feed himself with and how he administered it made me wonder what he could possibly do for a living. Without meaning to, his bad behaviour made me question his intelligence and his sense of self-worth.

Good manners make us glow

Polite people always leave a good impression; we tend to like people with good manners because they are considerate of us and that makes us feel good; it seems to me that good etiquette breeds trust in other people.

THINK: How do you feel towards the person ahead of you who let the door slam in your face? The woman on the streetcar who offers her seat to an elderly lady?  The man who allowed you in front of him in the grocery store line up because you had fewer items?

Bad table etiquette = employment suicide

I spoke to Catherine Bell, one of Canada’s premier etiquette specialists at Prime Impressions about manners. Catherine says that poor dining skills are the result of either one’s upbringing (where proper dining etiquette was not a priority), or the rejection of what are perceived as empty rules of behaviour that no longer matter. She told the story of a student who blew his chances at post-graduation employment because of his bad manners:

This particular student won an award for his marketing skills at college. At the awards banquet, someone from the marketing company who was giving this young man the award, leaned over to the professor in charge of the class and said that they would not be hiring him. When the mystified professor asked why, the marketing executive said, “It is because he brings his face down to the food, not the food up to his face.”

The job entailed entertaining clients over meals.

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Exercising good manners is a choice. Some people shrug and scoff at etiquette and say, “that’s just the way I am” or “if you don’t like me, you can (fill in the blank)“. Fair enough. But if you decide to reject the etiquette, think about what you’re doing and what you could be losing out on, not to mention the lasting impression you’re leaving on other people.

The way I see it, if a person decides not to exercise polite manners, that individual is waving off consideration for others which ultimately reflects how other people see that person. It also seems an indication of how that person regards himself, like the man in the food court. It’s about respect for others and for oneself – if we don’t respect ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to?

Remember, we only get one chance to make a first impression and if we blow it the first time, we may not get another go at it.

Truth or consequences: Dating in Toronto

1 May

There is certainly no place in the world like Toronto but for reasons you may not expect.

Will a nightclub draw a suitable partner?

Will a nightclub draw a suitable partner?

S. is a successful 39 year-old financial professional who owns his own house and car. In less than two years, he’s worked hard with a personal trainer and lost 70 pounds. One might think he’d have luck with women with all of these things going for him but after a year of clubbing, he’s still single and still looking.

R., a 35 year-old from Ireland works in construction and began dating as soon as he arrived in Toronto. He had no problems meeting women as a newcomer with a charming accent, but after three years, he describes the Toronto dating scene as “bizarre”.

Both gentlemen feel that dating in Toronto is about narcissism and feeding the ego. Those of us who live here know there is no place like it: people avoid other humans and don’t make eye contact, it is difficult to meet new people, and according to pick-up artist, Roosh V, it is the worst city in North America to meet women. (Read his 15 reasons why the city sucks for dating, and take the racially charged reason #7 with a grain of salt.)

Toronto is a large city and with large cities comes wide choices in people to get friendly with. This, combined with the vast amount of choices of people to meet in Toronto over the internet widens the net. When I internet dated,  I found it very difficult to settle on one man because there were so many – possibly too many – choices. What happens if I start up with Mr. Right Now and then Mr. Right comes along? This thought caused a kind of terror and was one of the reasons I ran away from internet dating, screaming.

S. and R. want to meet women and frequent downtown clubs on weekends. S. says that women expect attention, free drinks, and ego validation, with the option to brush the guy off. They told stories of their attempts to strike up conversations with women, many of which were received with rudeness and sometimes humiliating responses. S. says that women have walked away from him, one said, “I don’t want to talk to you”, and another actually pushed him away. He told me about the time his friend went over to talk to a woman who responded by punching him in the jaw which caused his mouth to fill up with blood. There is no excuse for rudeness and certainly not for violence. A polite, “No thank you” will do.

That said, many men don’t realize that women are in a tricky social position because we are targets of male attention, desire, and sometimes aggression, and this puts us into a state of constant defensiveness. We also know that men will always want us and we usually have the choice whether to couple or not, especially if we’re good-looking. When men approach us however, we have a choice in how we handle it. Choosing a rude route, like what R. and S. experience in bars is, I believe, learned and perhaps socially encouraged, depending on your generation.

Has the internet spoiled us?

R. says that the internet is killing character and genuineness. Before internet dating and social media, people were different. Before the digital age, people were people, warts and all, and our in-person selves drew others to us within our circle of friends. Now, people edit and censor themselves and become synthetic versions of their true selves, put on display for the world to see. Younger generations born into smart phones and social media see edited versions of the world and this is a massive influence on their psyche.

Young women seem especially susceptible to digital media influence and because society is still obsessed with what women look like, the expectation to be beautiful and sexy is even more pronounced. This, and the influence of media that seems to reward and normalize bitch behaviour can create legions of women who say, Yeah, I’m all that, and you have to work for it. Many women expect attention and fancy that they could and should have the pick of the litter. In the Kardashian-styled age of the egotistic selfie and the popularity contest that is social media, we have become horribly self-absorbed and narcissistic. It really should be no surprise to men like S. who is interested in younger women that many will have an arrogant sense of themselves and feel entitled to cast men away because this is what they’ve been taught.

My friend Gail likes the term “age appropriate”. She believes that instead of going after beautiful young women in their 20s, mature men, including our gents in question, should go by the 5 year guideline: choose partners 5 years younger or older than your age and there will be much more harmony. A woman within 5 years of you will be easier to relate to, there will be far less drama, more emotionally maturity, a sense of self, and she’ll have the ability to pay her own way. In other words, there will be no princess expectations.

I proposed this idea to S. who said that he just wasn’t attracted to women his age. Well, I thought, you’re really narrowing things down for yourself – women over 40 are #$%&! awesome. Gail says that women in their 20s are not really connected to men and are quick to dump and move onto the next one. A bit flighty, I suppose, because they’re young and they can be.

The gentlemen complain that everything has to be on women’s terms and many women will string them along in-person or by texting. Something to do with the notion of having an entourage of men to keep their egos buoyant. I suppose there must be men who do the same thing, but I’ve met more women who like to show off their digital “collection” of men which to me says, “look at how popular I am and how many men want me”, and yet these women remain single. It makes me wonder what their goals are.

Bitterness

S. says that though the constant rejection by women was difficult in the beginning and he took women’s refusals personally, his confidence has increased and his skin is definitely thicker. With a touch of bitterness, he now takes satisfaction in rejecting women himself, to “give them a taste of their own medicine”.

Sounds like a war that no one will win.

For men tired of this treatment, S. told me about an online men’s group called MGTOW – Men Going Their Own Way, “a statement of self-ownership, where the modern man preserves and protects his own sovereignty above all else”. I completely back this empowering premise because I know how frustrated men can be with the attitude of some Toronto women, but unfortunately, the site quickly turns vile. The founder, apparently a guy in his mid-30s who works downtown, known as Sandman, is very bitter and hateful towards all women according to his videos I’ve watched. He says that men have “learned the ugly truth about female nature. Women are made out to be harmless, beautiful creatures but the truth is many women today will rip out your heart and testicles through your wallet and move onto their next victim.”

It is one thing to be frustrated and disillusioned with women, but quite another to be hateful towards the entire gender and make sweeping statements like all women being whores and liars who trick men into marriage and fatherhood so they can divorce them and collect the legal booty from courts that favour women. Sandman, remains anonymous behind his screen and slut-shames, fat-shames, and age-shames women, and complains about single (gee, can you imagine why?). Disturbingly, MGTOW has over 7000 members and his introduction video has over 100,000 views. That’s a lot of fuel for the bonfire of masculine rejection and bitterness.

Is there anyone out there?

S. has decided that the woman for him does not live in Toronto and possibly not even in Canada. He plans to travel to meet women because as he sees it, it is more financially feasible to travel and try a long-distance relationship with a genuine person instead of spending $100 a night in clubs on the weekends. This is not the first time I’ve heard this; a friend of mine passed on an online forum made up of men, sick and tired of the self-important attitude of Toronto women, who moved to or visited places like London, Ontario to meet “real” women.

“Real” women do exist in Toronto (I consider myself one) but I don’t go to clubs to meet men, and I’m not sure that a club is the best place to go to meet genuine, down-to-earth types of people. I also don’t have faith in internet dating for reasons already stated. So where does that leave us? This question I cannot answer, but what I do know is that people aren’t telling the truth. Being honest and upfront may cause initial disappointment, but ultimately, it is the best route to take. Honest and respectful communication is key; I wish more people would understand this.