DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a single woman in my early 40s. I frequently receive invitations from single men (many of whom are more than 20 years older than me) to join them for dinner at their homes.
Knowing that I would enjoy dinner companionship and a nonrestaurant meal, knowing I would accept these types of invitations from female friends or family members without hesitation and knowing that nothing has occurred that would indicate that anything more than friendship is on the table, I have on occasion accepted the invitations.
Every single time, after I arrive for dinner, these men flirt with me, touch my arms and knees repeatedly and ask me to stay at the end of the night. This is despite the fact that I never reciprocate any of these gestures and use subtle, socially appropriate ways to move away from the touches and shut down the flirting.
What am I to do to avoid these awkward situations? Must I assume it will always go badly and say no to every invitation? May I clarify via text in advance that the dining experience is not a date, only a “friends” situation?
I’d like to have friendly companionship and interesting conversation, but am not interested in dating these men – especially ones who are the same age as my parents.
GENTLE READER: Perhaps your frisky hosts are old enough to remember when it was understood that accepting an invitation to the home of a bachelor (or a married man whose wife was out of town) was tantamount to accepting the host.
Yes, yes, that was nasty, unfair and sexist, although it was also assumed that a lady would have only one motive for entertaining a gentleman at home alone. Either way, the lady lost her reputation, if not more.
With that kind of thinking, announcing that you are accepting, but only as a friend, is likely to be taken for flirtatious coyness. Miss Manners regrets to say that if you accept such invitations, you will likely be subjected to annoyance – or worse.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: There seems to be a new habit, among ladies with long hair, to groom it excessively with their hands while in close quarters.
I’ve been the recipient of hair from a young woman at a wine bar, young women at two different theaters, and an older woman while awaiting jury selection. They run their hands through their long hair several times and fling it on me in the process.
What are my polite options? In two of the situations, I asked them to stop (politely, I hope), but both of their reactions were haughty and dismissive. Must I put up with escaping hairs and scalp particles on my clothes and in my snacks and beverages?
GENTLE READER: The most polite way that Miss Manners can think of would be to pick the strand of hair from your clothes and say, “Excuse me, but I believe you lost some of your hair. Would you like it back?”
Few people, however oblivious to the comfort of others, would care to have that said to them in public.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com.
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