Online Dating Is for People Who Like to Shop Around

Dear Miss Manners: I have entered the dating scene again after ... 25 years. So, as you can imagine, texting, emailing, Facebook and eHarmony did not exist my first time around, and I frankly don’t know what the expectations of people are today where the “I’m not interested” conversation is concerned.

I am in a situation where I have been in contact (via email, text, phone and in person) with a gentleman for two weeks now, including two real dates. I agreed to a second date to see if his nervousness was the cause of his lack of personality in the first one.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t. So I made the decision after that date not to go on any more with him. But as he had left to go out of town the very next day, I was waiting to hear back from him upon his return to have this conversation.

However, (fortunately for me) he has not contacted me for another date.

So should I count my blessings that he evidently didn’t want to continue on with me, and forget all of this, or should I still reach out to him to thank him for his interest and for the dates, but say that I don’t see a future for us? Can I do that via email? Text?

Obviously, I’d rather not say anything if I don’t have to, but having been completely abandoned after weeks of communication with other potential suitors recently, I had wished they had at least reached out to say, “Thanks, but I’m not interested.” The reality that they just stopped returning emails or phone calls with no explanation has been very disheartening, and I don’t want to do that to anyone else.

Gentle Reader: But you are so pleased that the unsuitable gentleman did that to you. Getting in touch with him for the purpose of saying that you no longer wish to be in touch does not strike Miss Manners as either necessary or kind.

In the non-virtual world, the failure to follow up one or two dates is, in itself, a definitive answer. So is a general statement of being busy. That way, no painful explanations need be made or endured.

But the world of online dating is not characterized by patience or subtlety. It’s more like shopping, where you take leave of a salesperson by saying, “Thank you, but I believe I’ll look around.” The equivalent statement, when you don’t want to leave dangling an obviously interested prospect, is, “I’ve enjoyed meeting you, but I don’t think we’re really a match.”

Dear Miss Manners: I am seriously disabled, move slowly with the aid of a walker and am often in considerable pain.

What do I say to people who tell me how “lucky” I am to have a handicap parking placard? Saying, “I’d be happy to trade places with you” doesn’t seem to work, and “Are you crazy?” seems rude.

Gentle Reader: Although Miss Manners would be tempted to say, “Well, I wish you luck, too,” she would not succumb. However, she might allow herself to say gently, “Well, I hope your luck in getting around is somewhat better than mine.”

Dear Miss Manners: My brother’s girlfriend self-diagnoses food allergies and intolerances based on things she reads on the Internet. They change frequently.

When planning a recent cookout, I kept in mind her dislike of ground beef and processed meats by buying chicken in addition to burgers and dogs. The day before the event, she told me that she has a poultry allergy, leaving no option except steak. Buying just one steak for her would be rude, so I ended up defying my budget to buy enough for everybody. When she arrived, she told me that she can’t eat the steak unless it’s organic because she’s afraid of migraines.

Can’t I just tell her ahead of time what I’m planning to serve and let her know that she’s free to bring something if my menu doesn’t suit her? Is there a limit to the trouble that I, as a host, should go through to accommodate my guests’ food preferences?

Gentle Reader: Yes: Your brother’s girlfriend is the limit. Whoops, no, she passed it long ago.

Kindly hosts now inquire in advance if their prospective guests have food problems, as so many people do, and plan around medical, religious and philosophical restrictions. That doesn’t mean catering entirely to any one person, as long as they ensure that everyone can make a safe meal out of what is available and that no one is exposed to anything that might prove lethal.

Hosts are not required to take orders for someone’s fuss du jour. Ordering steak in the first place, and then rejecting it, smacks of seeing how far she can go. Let us hope that this lady does not marry into your family.

Generally, Miss Manners is opposed to allowing guests to bring their own food, although she recognizes that it might be necessary for those who have genuinely severe restrictions. It undercuts your hospitality. And this particular guest could well bring something noticeably fancier than what you were serving other guests.

The solution is to take her off your dinner list, with the excuse that her extreme and variable sensitivities make you afraid of inadvertently causing damage. If you must entertain her, you should avoid doing so at mealtimes.

Dear Miss Manners: When I attended a concert with a married couple who are good friends of mine, I kept my money inside my bra, rather than inside my purse, for security reasons. As I was at the concession stand purchasing a couple of beverages, I had to pull my money in and out of my bra. When doing so, I never pulled my breast out or divulged too much breast, but tried to keep my getting money in and out as discreet and low-key as possible, trying not to draw attention to what I was doing.

I normally don’t keep money in this private place, but since I was attending a crowded concert, I thought keeping it in my bra would be safest.

Is it appropriate for a woman to keep money in her bra when attending crowded events, such as concerts, football games, etc.?

Gentle Reader: Sure. But not for her to be seen digging around to get it out.

You say you are able to retrieve your money without exposing your breast. But Miss Manners reminds you that others do not know that, and may be mesmerized by seeing where your hand is going. Please do this in the restroom ahead of time.

Feeling incorrect? Email your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) from her website, www.missmanners.com.