Open Thread

by epi on April 3, 2012

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Antonio April 3, 2012 at 7:51 am

I was having a discussion with a friend about etiquette. I have always open doors for women and let them go first. However, my friend told me that when going to an unknown bar or restaurant, the man is the one that should go first. Is that true? And also, when going to the movies or the theater, who should go first into the row or seats? thanks for your help!

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Zakafury April 3, 2012 at 9:43 am

Gender-specific customs like these have fallen out of official etiquette for modern times. Whatever makes the couple involved more comfortable is perfectly fine.

I expect that a gentleman always holding the door would not ruffle any feathers, even at those dangerous new places. Deferring to the lady so she can choose how far down the row to sit also seems good, if trying to remain classically chivalrous.

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Nina April 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

Hi Antonio,

This is just my personal take, but if I am at a door at the same time as a gentleman and we’re both within reach of it, I let him open it for me–it avoids the awkwardness of having us both step forward and crash, and most gents do want to be polite. However, if I’m in front of him or for some other reason it’s easier for me to open the door, I open it for him. I’ve been knocked out of the way by gentleman to eager to be “chivalrous”–probably not exactly what was intended by the word.

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Elizabeth April 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

I agree with Zakafury generally. The ‘rules’ for these situations are loose. However, I have a personal situation about which I feel very strongly. My husband is older than me, and has a lot of friends from different periods of his life (high school, college, multiple workplaces). Sometimes we go to house parties thrown by one of these groups, and I have often either never met them or only met them once. He often tries to hold the door open so I can go first, but I don’t want to go first into a house where I don’t know anyone or can’t remember anyone’s name. I would much prefer that he go first, say hello to someone and introduce me (or reintroduce me, as the case may be). I don’t like to go first when it’s clear that he’s much more familiar and comfortable with the situation.

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Country Girl April 3, 2012 at 11:57 am

Antonio, we actually had a similar discussion on this site a while back regarding elevators. The origin of the custom was determined to be that the man would enter a place of questionable safety; bar, elevator (as back in the day they were unreliable), stagnant revolving door, etc so that the man may determine that the area was safe for the lady to enter. Zakafury is correct; in the US this is a fairly dated custom.

However, I have also read in more than a few places that it is apparently current proper etiquette in Europe for the man to enter a restaurant first to survey the area, lead the way through a crowded environment, and determine a table. So, if you live in Europe, your friend may be spot on. =)

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