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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: What to Say & Not Say to Your Valentine

Thursday, February 05, 2015


Photo Credit: Vortexas32 via Compfight cc

The gift of politeness may be second only to good sex on Valentine's Day. What do you do about a Valentine stalker? E-tiquette, engagement etiquette and where to propose to your Valentine? are all topics this week for Didi's Manners & Etiquette.  

Watching Your Valentine Etiquette and E-tiquette Every Day

While talking about what we shouldn't say to our lover and what we can say instead, we thought we would ask you. Sometimes our partner just says the wrong thing, which puts us off. Any pre-Valentine advice? We're stuck in the office on a sleety day reading your website.

~Anonymous, Providence

There really is an art to nurturing closeness in a relationship. Certain phrases are an absolute turnoff. Others can bring you closer. You could say that closeness is the antidote to loneliness -- which you can control. Try self-correcting before using some of these killjoy phrases to tighten up your relationship. The most awesome Valentine's gift you give anyone you're fond of -- or even love -- is politeness in conversation and being aware of your e-tiquette chatting online.

Instead, try using some of these unwritten cultural rules.

Try not to start sentences with the word 'Why.' Why? Because, think about how annoying it is when the word 'Why' is the first word you see on your lover's text, as in 'Why are you always late?' Or 'Why can't you ever be on time?' He wonders, 'Why' does she do this when it's so irritating? Instead, use 'What,' as in 'What is that all about?' Nobody likes being grilled. Say, 'What made your day?' Ask, "Tell me about your day," or 'What did you do today?' to open dialogue. Then, without asking 'Why,' it might even make sense to you why the person was late. Even help you figure out how to help them not be late.

Another really weird phrase is, 'You need to,' as in 'You need to listen to what I say.' Instead, say, 'We can work on being better communicators by actively listening to each other.'

Don't you just hate it when someone says, 'I'm sorry, if I hurt your feelings' -- or -- 'I'm sorry if you felt that way.' How about trying not to duck out of taking responsibility by throwing it back on the other person. Simply be accountable for your action by saying, "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings." Or, "I'm sorry you feel that way." By dropping the word 'if' you sound more sincere. Using 'if' makes you seem unsure -- as in iffy.

To get back to why, the word 'why' can be such an obnoxious word. Then, add the word 'just,' as in 'Why don't you just listen?' and you'll really turn off your Valentine. Like criticism, everyone knows that unsolicited advice is a buzzkill. Simply say, "Let's brainstorm a solution," and let them talk it out.

Shall we not ever say, 'I just need you to listen.' Another downer. Let's not seem needy when it is not an emergency.


How to Talk to My Husband About His Stalker

My husband's ex-girlfriend always makes a move on Valentine's Day. We feel her presence. They spent one Valentine's together and apparently she harbors deep resentment from the rejection. I get that. We've been married four years, but she's still stalking our marriage. I don't want to sound like a jealous wife, but it is weird. My husband and I can't go on LinkedIn without her name and photo popping up -- even though she's not in our networks. We don't go to places they went to together, but she finds our new spots and shows her face -- and always around Valentine's. My husband even changed his gym, but she found him at the new one and I've seen her a couple of times in my spin class. We live in a huge metropolis, so these sightings of her are not coincidental. What do you do about someone with a burned cellphone who calls with a religious chant in the background at eleven o'clock at night and doesn't say a word? My husband recalls once listening to a CD of a Gregorian chant with her. 

~S.K., New York City

Apparently some women give themselves a gender pass when it comes to stalking. Most of us have been through a romantic obsession of some sort, but carrying it to this degree is definitely weird. It's narcissistic of her to think she can have a relationship with the two of you, when you want nothing to do with her. Whether she calls once a year or every single day to leave a Gregorian chant, it is bad behavior. Extremely rude.

In a perfect world the kind thing to do would be to sit down and talk to her with the intention of dismantling the fantasy. She has to come to grips with reality and cease all contact. As well as get professional counseling to help her grieve and live with her feelings, because when you're aggressive like that -- you're no longer in love. It's obsession -- creepy. Being rejected is a loss. All stalkers have a predilection for predatory violence and sketchy sexual desires. 


Valentine's Day Marriage Proposal

Got the beautiful ring, but now I'm trying to find out how and where to ask my girlfriend to marry me. In public at a restaurant or concert, or where we have privacy. What's the most polite and romantic? ~D.B., Portland, OR

How would your girlfriend's dream proposal play out? Dreams constitute enduring mysteries of what makes a person happy. Have a really nice dinner to stimulate authentic conversation -- with no cellphones or other distractions. Encourage her to tell you what her wildest dreams are so you can make her dream about the two of you. Find out what turns her on by first telling her what you love about her -- what turns you on about her. Is she the best kisser you've ever kissed? Describe something else about her that turns you on and then it is her turn. 


In a recent survey of where a woman would like to be proposed to between out in public or in privacy, an amazing majority answered that they would prefer to be proposed to in private. You can take it from there. 


Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi."  If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location. 


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