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Miss Manners: Valentine could excite or put off

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I seem to be at the very beginning of what might be a romance, having gone on two fun and innocent dates. I know that you encourage a period of “friendship” before plunging in. Would it ruin the illusion of just being friends to give a handmade valentine card?

I do like to make valentine cards with lots of lace and red hearts, but maybe that would seem silly. Should I give it in person, or mail it? Mailing it would require finding out the mailing address somehow. And, what should it say?

The general message I would like to convey is, at the very least, “I would very much like to keep dating you!”

GENTLE READER: Leaving aside the notion of “plunging in,” which Miss Manners would prefer not to think about, she may well have suggested the friendship approach to romance. Not that she really expected anyone to listen.

So instead of courtship strategy, she will discuss your question in terms of the strategy of etiquette. As this has to do with the effect on the recipient, it may amount to the same approach.

The object should be to delight him, rather than to embarrass him. You know him better than Miss Manners does, although not much better, since you don’t know where he lives. If you believe that a valentine from you will set his heart racing, go ahead. However, she believes that even if a romance is budding between you, it is all too likely to inspire the unromantic thought, “Uh-oh. Was I supposed to send you one?”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boyfriend and I recently bought a house. We are the first of our circle of friends to do so; in fact, most of our friends still live with their parents.

But now that there is an available house for everyone to congregate without parental supervision, our house has been elected the “party” house for everyone and every event. We have people over at the house constantly.

Usually we don’t mind, but there are a select few who seem to always outstay their welcome, sometimes staying past midnight or until my boyfriend or myself fall asleep on them. How do you politely kick someone out of your house? Is there a polite way?

GENTLE READER: As a responsible hostess, you are no doubt aware of the unfortunate necessity of taking away car keys from a guest who is not in a state to leave. Let us hope you do not have such guests.

But you can use a similar technique in reverse on guests who overstay. You may not have their car keys, but you have their coats to bring them, along with your profuse thanks for their visit.

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