DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently accepted a date on Valentine's Day from a gentleman I have known and gone out with from time to time for some four years. While I didn't think it was going to be the ultimate romantic evening, I thought we would at least have fun as friends.
It went from dinner out to a partially microwaved meal. He quibbled over going out for dessert because he was "full" and didn't see the need and then asked for the check after his friend paid for everything.
He went out of his way not to mention Valentine's Day. No flowers at the table, not even a balloon. I found it strange that he would treat me in such a way after we have known each other for this amount of time.
I smiled and kept a conversation up with him and the other couple and went home right after dessert. Am I wrong to think he could have done something more to make the evening a little more festive? I asked if I could bring anything and was told no. I just felt he could have asked me out another weekend if he didn't wish to celebrate with me, and I could have made other plans. It would have been just fine with me!
GENTLE READER: What other plans? Miss Manners doesn't mean to be harsh, but surely if you had had a Valentine's Day offer from a gentleman in whom you did have a romantic interest, you would not have accepted one from whom you did not expect romance.
Perhaps if the gentleman had a calendar, he would have avoided a day so loaded with expectations. But then, you said you didn't expect a romantic evening, so perhaps he fulfilled yours. Miss Manners' advice is to choose more carefully next year.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the most appropriate way to tell a former boyfriend (also a friend) that I am now seriously dating someone else with whom he is acquainted?
I presume that a simple, "(New gentleman) and I are seeing each other. I thought you would appreciate hearing it from me" would suffice, but I am concerned with sounding either callous or else presumptuous.
I suspect that the first man in question will be displeased with the news, so I want to be kind, but not so much that I embarrass him by giving the impression that I think he is still "madly in love" with me. Is it better, perhaps, to just let him hear the information from mutual friends, to whom he could vent his displeasure with a clear conscience?
GENTLE READER: It is that tag line, "I thought you would appreciate hearing it from me" that could rankle. Miss Manners assures you that you were doing fine until you got to that.
If the gentleman has only the purest feelings of friendship for you now, the part about appreciation does unduly suggest that he is in a wounded state. And if he really is, that word, "appreciate," will be taken bitterly. Just tell him as if you expected him to be pleased for you, and allow him to live up to the expectation.