DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a reasonably attractive woman who is blessed with a number of strikingly beautiful female friends. It’s not uncommon for my friends to be approached by men, and when this happens at a dance club, I smile and give my blessing as my friends are whisked off to the dance floor.
After all, that’s the culture of those places, isn’t it? But in other situations, I sometimes find men’s behavior to be more difficult to accept with grace.
A good friend and I had gone out for dinner and then to a local bar for drinks; our plan for the evening was to chat and catch up on each other’s lives. An acquaintance of hers happened to be there and joined us at our table. My friend introduced me, and there were a few moments of pleasant small talk.
Then this man proceeded to angle his body toward my friend, stare at her, touch her on the arm, caress her face – for all the world behaving as if they were on a date!
While my friend continued to include me in the conversation, her acquaintance did not. I endured this man’s behavior for some time, finally making an excuse to leave as gracefully as I could.
I’m now wondering if there is anything I could have said or done, within the realm of polite conduct, to make it clear to the man that his conduct was unpleasant to me. I don’t want to be rude in these situations – especially as I expect it would be construed as jealousy – but I also feel that making a polite excuse and heading home only rewards the man for his rudeness. While my evening is ruined, he gets exactly what he wants. What should I do next time?
GENTLE READER: There is no need for you to make an excuse when you have already been excluded. Just make a graceful exit, saying, with as much good humor as you can muster, “You two seem to have a lot to talk about, so I’ll leave you.”
This should be addressed to both of them. If you are not urged to stay and the conversation opened to include you, and you still end up going home, Miss Manners trusts that you will know with whom you really should be upset for deserting you.