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Ask Mr. Manners

Valentine’s etiquette

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you may be wondering what you are going to be doing with your significant other to celebrate the holiday. Getting Valentine ’s Day right isn’t hard, it just takes a little bit of forethought and planning to ensure that the 14th of February is a properly romantic affair rather than a tacky experiment.

Good old-fashioned chivalry may be seen as a thing of the past, and some would argue it’s long dead and buried, but its survival depends on how we decide to utilize it. The key to being successful is having a plan, so to help you this valentine’s season I suggest a few etiquette tips on Valentine’s Day. Assuming that you had the forethought to make a dinner reservation you should:

• Give your date your undivided attention. Put your cell phone on silent, or even better turn it off. I would hope that the person you are with is more important than any message you have waiting on Scruff or Grindr. (And on that note, you are on a date, you have found someone, delete those apps) The only acceptable cell phone usage would be an extreme emergency, or to show the hostess that you have an email confirmation for your reservation.

• Thank the other person for whatever gift he or she offers. If you are disappointed, try not to let it show. Don’t give someone anything that could possibly be insulting. This is not the time for a gag gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fattening. Gifts that are too extreme could translate as “desperate” or an attempt to “cover” something up. A small piece of premium chocolate and a single rose presented in a lovingly creative way can make the person you love smile.

• Practice good table manners. You want the other person to have romantic thoughts, not be repulsed. In addition to this, keep in mind any “dessert” activities for later in the evening and chose your food wisely. No one wants to have a messy ending to the perfect evening.

Something that I feel is necessary to mention is a piece of advice that was given to me in high school: “Never break up on Valentine’s Day or any other important day in the person’s life.” Even if you never want to see the other person again, there’s no point in ruining his or her future romantic adventures. Pretending to love someone is a disservice to both parties; if you need to end your relationship please have the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to do it before the holiday. Keep it classy.

My parting thought is that most of us think about being a good Valentine on February 14, but why not do it every day? Regardless of how long you have been in a relationship, a few extra genuine gestures can bring smiles and happiness. Remember that “coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success.” And who doesn’t like being successful?

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Rock Magen

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