Modernity Equals Ill-Mannered?

by admin on July 27, 2011

I have the good fortune to often avoid people with horrible manners, but I am often directly adjacent to bad etiquette so I accumulate several second-hand stories.  The source of so many of these stories was from my sister’s last ex-boyfriend, a musclebound young man with little maturity and a tidy package of body image issues.  Unfortunately for all involved, they ended up going out together for over three years–their freshman year in college right up until they graduated, at which point she finally cut him loose.

My family is very Texan when it comes to ideas of hospitality and etiquette–we try to be as egalitarian and courteous as possible, and this includes everything from general propriety to simple manners such as holding doors open and the like.  On the other hand, he comes from a Floridian family that is both a bit snobbish and boorish at the same time; I had only brief contact with them, but my sister confirmed the general sleaziness and standoffishness of their attitudes.  I often heard stories from my sister of how he would never support her at any events (namely, volleyball games; she was a star in her division and he would prefer to go work out and stroke his ego rather than attend any of the games occurring right on campus). Even when he expressly asked and confirmed his attendance before, he would most often back out the day of.

We invited him to stay with us for extended periods (about a month at a time) during the breaks between their semesters, and pretty much everyone in our family agreed that, while he was high-maintenance enough to not actively destroy the house, none of us particularly appreciated his company and our eating habits were bent constantly to suit his needs.  Worse still, we would often eat as a family, and he would go to cook his own food at a later time (a feat not performed as of yet by any other house guest; we cook pretty nice, big dinners and guests are prone to asking after leftovers).  It seemed like a huge affront to our hospitality–no matter how long he was staying, he was still strictly a guest.

The source of these rude behaviors was pinpointed a few days after she delivered the ultimatum to her boyfriend.  He still insisted that she attend his brother’s wedding–a brother, might I add, she had had little contact with.  She was reluctant, but since the invitation had been extended from the brother as well, she felt it wouldn’t be entirely respectful to decline.  She accepted on the condition that our father would accompany her, as our whole family would be in Atlanta (where their college was) the week before and we wanted to split into two groups–my mother and I going back to Texas with all the stuff I had moved out of my dorm in Pennsylvania, and my father and my sister going down to Florida for the wedding.  This made the mass manoeuvre easy for us and let my sister go to the wedding.  It also meant that my dad finally got to bear witness to the BF’s family.

In general, my father came back with the same poor opinions of the family, but one incident really encapsulates it all and shows the source of the bad manners.  On entering a certain door, my father stepped ahead of my sister and opened the door for her, and she thanked him.  Not a remarkable thing, but the boyfriend’s father felt the need to comment on it.  He noted that a man in their family would never hold open a door for a woman–like it was something to be proud of, or it was some sort of show of feminism or something.  I’m a pretty adamant feminist myself, and I can tell you having such a sentiment only exposes general selfishness on your part: a person should simply hold open doors for other people; in my family it is not a matter of gender–someone will just take initiative and open the door for a group.  It’s a way of showing respect and courtesy, and I try to open doors for people even in the most informal of situations.  Both my sister and my father were disgusted, both at the show of bad manners and somewhat at the implication that a single courteous display damned our family into an anti-progressive black hole of sexist chivalry (?).

I think that was the last straw for my sister.  She had been trying to break up for a long time but that gave her some resolve not to back out of the final breakup.  Also–has anyone else encountered this idea that dropping shows of courtesy or hospitality is a progressive thing? 0701-11

{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

TychaBrahe July 27, 2011 at 5:39 am

I’m surprised that the Dame did not leave any of her comments. She is usually quick to pick apart a submission when the submitter makes her own offenses. Frankly, you sound like someone who speaks just to hear herself speak, and uses big words in an effort to impress without understanding what they mean. I don’t understand half of your criticisms of the young man. Snobbish and boorish are not synonyms for either sleazy nor standoffish. And being high-maintenance means that one constantly needs attention and fawning, and I fail to see why that trait would have any effect on your house. Meanwhile your sister demands that her father accompany her to a wedding. I hope that you mean that your father traveled with her, and not that she demanded an invitation to a wedding from the poor bride and groom. And finally, while people from Texas are generally considered to be magnanimous in their hospitality, not every Texan is a paragon of mannerly virtues; neither is every Floridian a churlish lout. Overarching statements such as you make are often tolerated, but they are akin to racism and sexism, and they do not become you.

Now, to your point: I agree that many people are proud of and flaunt their lack of adherence to customs of etiquette. I find these people unpleasant to be around. However, those who carry their standards of propriety before them as a lantern, demanding to be lauded solely because they understand these complex codes are equally unpleasant. I would rather be in the company of one who does not understand which fork to use but who is congenial and well intentioned. Splinters and planks, my dear.

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admin July 27, 2011 at 9:08 am

Tychebrahe,

My comments are a bit skimpy this week due to helping daughter with her newborn. Staring at the tiny perfection that is my grandson is a lot more fun than commenting on posts. :-)

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josie July 27, 2011 at 5:42 am

Hmmmm….so Texans are the high example of etiquette and Floridians are snobbish and boorish. Fascinating. One point where I believe OP tripped over her fine etiquette is when she insisted her dad be invited to the boyfriend’s brother’s wedding. Dad could of very easily made plans of his own for the evening….a movie, dinner, whatever. You just don’t “insist” on an extra invitation. Yes, the boyfriend seems high maintenance and I don’t see why she kept him around as long as she did. Unless the volleyball “star” needed some good looking guy by her side. I’m just not impressed. Sorry.

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FunkyMunky July 27, 2011 at 5:51 am

Frankly, I think your sister was ruder, to demand to bring an uninvited guest to the wedding.

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Quieas July 27, 2011 at 5:56 am

I agree that he was rude, especially in commenting negatively on your father’s natural kindness in holding the door open for another person.

But to me it seems more like a clash of two different lifestyles, cultures etc. and isn’t really all that etiquette related.

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Harley Granny July 27, 2011 at 5:59 am

Oh my where to start….
Does anyone else notice that when in comes to manners, every section of the country think they have the superior ones?

So he makes demands..the only one I really saw was the food thing and the horrors, he fixed it himself…and yet when he wants his GF to be with him at his brother’s wedding, she INSISTS on her father coming too. So she’s bringing an uninvited guest.
And so the BF’s father gives his opinion on the holding the door thing. I just can’t see what he did wrong other than have a different opinion than the OP’s father.
Maybe someone else can explain the whole Atlanta thing…I can’t figure out what it has to do with the wedding in Florida.

Maybe it’s my mood today but the OP is the one that comes off both a bit snobbish and boorish.

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jen a. July 27, 2011 at 6:11 am

I agree with the OP that, as a feminist myself, I never get offended when somebody opens a door for me (and I often hold doors open for others). However, after reading through the letter, I’m having trouble with the overall feel. I agree that it’s rude to not eat with the rest of the family when you’re a guest. To be honest, that’s the only clear example of an etiquette violation on his part that I can pinpoint. Not attending events with his girlfriend isn’t bad etiquette (IMO), it’s being a bad boyfriend. Neither is good, but they’re not the same thing. For that matter, the OP’s girlfriend seemed to kick up a bit of a stink when it came to attending her boyfriend (of three years)’s brother’s wedding. I’m pretty sure it’s not proper etiquette to demand a wedding invite for someone else when you’re a guest.

It just seems like the OP and her/his family didn’t like the boyfriend. Maybe he did other things the OP isn’t writing about?

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Wheelchair Bling July 27, 2011 at 6:57 am

So this guy’s major rudeness was that he didn’t like volleyball, but he did like to cook his own food? Oh, the horror!

But in the OP’s eyes, to insist on adding oneself to a wedding guest list is unremarkable. Okey-doke…

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Girlysprite July 27, 2011 at 7:15 am

I feel that while mistakes have been made in the BF’s family, they just don’t come across as so very terrible to me. Not very nice, true, but not terrible.

I also find the emphasis on the ‘nationalities’ (so to speak) strange. It comes across as if texans are generally more well behaved, and Floridans are snobbish and boorish. And in the case that the author didn’t mean it like that. why add the origins of the persons in this story?

Attending the wedding of a brother is not something strange to ask, even if the girl has not seen much of that brother yet. At this point she and her BF have been dating for over 2 years, and it’s normal to go to big family events of your partner, unless it’s really really inconvenient without a way around it. The fact that the father of the girl was allowed to come as well seems rather generous, as the couple doesn’t know him at this point.
And the door comment was rude, but I know lots of people see holding open doors for women (they inerpeted it as such) as a not so good old fashioned thing.

Not joining dinners as guest and not showing on appointments is really bad though. But i feel too much blame is put with the family of the young man. Also, in the sotry the family of the OP doesn’t really come across as very….welcoming either.

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MyFamily July 27, 2011 at 7:44 am

I’m having trouble understanding how you and your family thought it was okay to insist that your father be invited to the wedding. I’m very sure that this boyfriend’s family is absolutely commenting on how rude your family is, and they’d be right.

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SS July 27, 2011 at 7:44 am

Okay, I do see some bad behaviors there on the part of the boyfriend, but I do see a glaring etiquette breach on the part of the ‘wronged party’. Was your sister’s father invited to the wedding on the invitation? Or did she bring him along anyway (or negotiate an extra invite at the last minute by saying “I won’t go unless I can bring someone”)?

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Amber July 27, 2011 at 7:59 am

Interesting! *Rubs chin* My mother was in college in the late 70’s, around the time when feminism had reached its stride in modern times, and she has told me stories of friends of hers who would get right angry if a man held the door for them. Her explanation was that a man walking ahead and opening a door for a woman, while seemingly polite, was a symbol of they way women were viewed: as lesser beings who must be cared for and coddled. You open a door for a woman so that she doesn’t have to dirty her pretty little hands with even the smallest amount of labor. (Well, manly labor, anyway. The laundry, cooking and cleaning weren’t getting done by themselves!)

Of course, one would hope that we’ve moved past such symbolic gestures of sexism. Now we open doors for anybody, strictly out of politeness. But I can see how boyfriend’s father, if he went to school in a certain time period, could still view opening the door for a woman in this light. Particularly since the OP’s father was the one to speed up and open the door for the daughter, not the daughter for the father. Not that he should point it out to the OP’s family, as it’s pretty rude to call someone a possible sexist.

As to the rudeness displayed throughout the letter — boyfriend making his own food, ick, unless he has a serious dietary need (like diabetes or celiac disease). Sister inviting father to boyfriend’s brother’s wedding — what was she thinking?? Totally rude, and maybe the source of boyfriend’s father’s snarkiness.

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Rattus July 27, 2011 at 8:00 am

To be honest, I wasn’t able to focus on the grist of this complaint because I was floored by the “hospitable” Texan’s description of the “snobbish and boorish” Floridian family. I feel compelled to take any disgruntlement with a grain of salt after a pejorative of that nature.

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Mary July 27, 2011 at 8:03 am

I don’t know the whole story on the Sister’s ex. It does sound like he had his moments of rudeness. However, I don’t see why it was necessary to mention the states the families were from when referring to manners! The OP made it sound as if they were polite because they were from Texas and the other family had bad manners due to the fact that they lived in Florida. I am sure there are some rude and uncouth people in Texas, just as there are many people in Florida with impeccable manners. There are rude and polite people in all 50 states in addition to all over the world!

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K July 27, 2011 at 8:12 am

In some places, if a man holds open a door for a woman, he gets yelled at because she’s more than capable of opening her OWN doors. I’ve never seen it happen, living in Florida, but some Yankees are just that way and it’s cute. But hey, thanks for the slam to Floridians. Yes, we’re all barbarians because we’re not from Texas.
He’s a body builder? Then he has to have a high protein meal every 3 hours. If your family is just SOOOOOooooooooooooooo polite, why didn’t you provide for your guest because I guarantee your wonderful sister knew this?
And your absolutely delightfully polite and epitome of manners and etiquette family not only invited one of it’s members-totally unknown to the bridal party-to a wedding, but flat out jammed him down their throat. Nice.
Did you say, “snobbish and boorish?” Pot meet kettle.

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Bint July 27, 2011 at 8:12 am

He’s very rude. You obviously dislike him intensely, so be glad he’s gone. I’ll spare you the ‘are you prejudiced towards Florida’ guff that about twenty-five posters will inevitably start on, but point out that your sister is under no obligation to attend a wedding having split up from her boyfriend, since she is no longer his ‘other’. In fact most couples would probably prefer it if she didn’t attend – would you really want the already-ex in your wedding photos?

‘She had been trying to break up for a long time ‘.

I’ll assume your sister was very young at the time! Just dump the person – it’s far kinder in the long run!

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Lucy July 27, 2011 at 8:14 am

I say this as a fellow Texan: I don’t think good versus bad manners can be attributed too much to region. Yes, some regions seem rude to those of us not accustomed to the regional culture–my mother’s New Jersey relatives seem awfully boisterous to my dad’s tightly-buttoned-up Midwestern German siblings even though they’re pretty genteel by Northeastern standards–but rudeness is probably more about intent than anything. If your family culture is to be somewhere between simply thoughtless and actively malicious, then maybe you could accurately be described as rude, but I hope I wouldn’t then paint everyone in your neighborhood, town, or state as rude, simply by accident of geography. That in and of itself strikes me as rude.

We lived up North when I was a kid. People there often don’t say “hello” to strangers they pass on the street. It’s not rude there; it’s normal. Here in Texas, if you make eye contact, you say “hello”, even if you don’t know the person from Adam or Eve and will never see him or her again. Not to do so would be rude. I’ve met Northerners who find this intrusive and feel they’ve been put on the spot by a total stranger, even though all we ask is a greeting, not a conversation (I’ve also met Northerners who love it). Neither approach is rude–it’s simply a matter of expectation.

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Monica July 27, 2011 at 8:15 am

I don’t understand how being from Texas or Florida has anything to do with it. I’ve met rude disgusting people from both states, and gracious angels from both states. Truly egalitarian and courteous people know that one can’t assume an entire state’s population acts one way or another, so I don’t see how pointing that out adds to this story at all.

In regards to the “progressive” people lacking hospitality, yes, I have seen that more and more. I think lazy rude people just use “I’m modern and progressive!” as an excuse to not have good manners.

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Bees July 27, 2011 at 8:19 am

In South Dakota, who ever gets to the door first in a group, holds it for the rest. No matter if they do it for a man, female, child or teen. It’s just general courtesy. Not a progesseive thing at all. Maybe just not an urban thing.

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MaryFran July 27, 2011 at 8:25 am

I’ve heard that some men are afraid to hold the door for a woman on the first date for fear of affronting her feminist sensibilities. But I was taught by my family that people hold doors for other people in any situation (polite or informal). Many older generation men will not let me hold the door for them, but take the door and let me by first. It doesn’t bother my feminist sensibilities since they’re really just being nice, not implying I’m too feeble to hold the door.

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8daysaweek July 27, 2011 at 8:26 am

I know of some women who do not like to have their chair pulled out for them or doors opened for them. I am not one of them but I know them. I hold doors open for men and women alike in public and no one ever says anything nasty to me about it, although some men will insist on taking the door from me instead (and women too occasionally, now that I think of it). I think it’s just being polite.

I am however confused about why your sister thought it was appropriate to insist your father attend with her. Did she mean just the visit or did he attend the wedding as well? It is quite rude to add on uninvited guests to an invitation like that.

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delislice July 27, 2011 at 8:31 am

Yes, there is a subgroup that claims that “dropping shows of courtesy or hospitality is a progressive thing.” It’s embraced by boorons like your sister’s ex-boyfriend. The logic, such as it is, is that “you (females) wanted equality, so I’m going to give it to you! I wouldn’t open a door for a guy, because real men don’t need help, and therefore I’m not going to open a door for you!” Same applies to offering a seat or even showing up for volleyball matches. “I’m going to treat you, a female, as badly as I treat the guys I know, which is very badly indeed.”

Sounds as though the ex-boyfriend, if not his whole family, is wrapped in a little cocoon of selfishness. I’ll eat what I want to, when I want to, because my needs matter more than an effort at togetherness. I’ll open the door so that I can go through it, but holding it for someone would massively inconvenience me, so I can’t be bothered to do it. It’s boring for me to watch a volleyball match, so who cares if it would mean a lot to my girlfriend — I can’t and won’t be inconvenienced. And oh, by the way, it’s progressive to be so concerned with my own identity and my own needs. Courtesy, togetherness and support are such old-fashioned values that they died out with the dinosaurs. Only doddering old biddies uphold them any more, and I’m far too modern and progressive to slow myself down in that fashion.

So — yes, you can sure try to argue that it’s a progressive stance. You’d be wrong, but you can argue it.

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Chocobo July 27, 2011 at 8:36 am

Sounds like this relationship was on the outs far before this last straw — who would not want to go to the wedding of their significant others’ close family? It doesn’t matter whether or not she knew him. And I might add that inviting her father to their wedding was not appropriate. Either decline or accept, but don’t invite extras.

I agree that the boyfriend sounds like a complete cad, a good riddance, but the fact that Big Sis did not want to go to important family functions is pretty telling that she already had one foot out the door.

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Leah July 27, 2011 at 8:36 am

As a recent bride, I have to comment on the way OP’s family handled the boyfriend’s brother’s wedding. OP’s sister appears to have been invited as her boyfriend’s guest. Whether or not she attends should be based on her relationship with her boyfriend and whether she wants to support him at a family event. She’s free to decline – it’s not “disrespectful” to say she doesn’t want to go. In fact, I’m sure the bride and groom would be relieved to not have to pay for guests who didn’t really want to be there. But rather than decline, OP’s sister demanded that her father be invited to the wedding? Not because her father is close to the family, but because she wanted to give him a chance to ogle their bad manners?? I’m not sure OP and her family are as polite as they think.

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Angela July 27, 2011 at 8:45 am

IMHO the most telling etiquette breach is that the BF’s father criticized the OP’s father’s polite gesture and in front of the man’s daughter, no less.

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Lizajane July 27, 2011 at 8:50 am

Wow. That story took a long time to tell. What does being from Texas vs. Florida have to do with it, I wonder. I’m from neither.

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Pixie July 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

Honestly, I did not care for the tone of OP’ s story. It also made it sound like she thinks Floridians as a whole don’t have the manners Texans do. With that aside, I agree on some points. The dinner thing could be something else, though. Did he have any sort of special diet or food quirks? He may have been trying to not inconvenience everyone. Also, insisting on bringing a plus 1to a wedding as a stipulation to attending is very rude. If you aren’t comfortable then don’t attend.

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Twik July 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

Hmm, I’m afraid that I don’t see anything *too* egregious here, although the two families appear rather incompatible.

Offense 1 – BF not showing up for GF’s sporting events. Disappointing, but possibly he had things to do as well as she did. Not everyone can take time off for sporting events of their loved ones. In any case, that’s more a relationship issue than an etiquette one (although he shouldn’t have been promising to come if he didn’t intend to).

Offense 2 – BF cooking for himself while visiting. Odd, but combined with the comment about “body issues”, perhaps he had unusual dietary habits. At least he didn’t demand that the rest of the family eat his way, or that they cook him special meals.

Offense 3 – after the “ultimatum” (what ultimatum?) BF insisted that his now-exGF still accompany him to his brother’s wedding, as originally planned. While I’m sure it was an awkward time, cancelling after RSVPing would also have been rather rude.

Offense 4 – commenting on the door-opening. Somehow, this sounds like a joke that went over badly. If the other father had really meant, “You, sir, are a sexist swine!” I would be annoyed, but it still sounds like a joke to me.

In fact, I sort of get a vibe that BF and his family were not going to be given any breaks by the OP and his/her family, even on minor issues. The OP seems quite pleased to view his/her family as superior, and I wonder if that attitude was there from the start.

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Clair Seulement July 27, 2011 at 9:17 am

Why did it take four paragraphs to get to the big faux pas–which was a staggeringly underwhelming comment about holding a door open? I guess we could have all stopped reading at “Floridian” though–you know, those boorish snobs.

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Clair Seulement July 27, 2011 at 9:21 am

…oh and I just assumed that the OP *could not have* meant that the Dad was actually going to the wedding itself, because that is one of *the* rudest things I can think of

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Zhoen July 27, 2011 at 9:40 am

I think the OPs tone comes from using so many loaded words to described the detested exBF, but lacking any specific description, or any attempt at empathy. He may well have been bad news, but nothing in her story describes him with any kind of even-handedness. He didn’t attend her sister’s games, but would “go work out and stroke his ego.” What does that mean? What, specifically was he doing instead? OP never seems to even try to figure out what BF or his family were thinking. Most folks here who encounter truly rude behavior bend over backward trying to figure out what could have been going through the offender’s mind, and examining their own contribution as well.

Politeness has at it’s heart a sense of fairness to others. Not just ‘fairness’ for oneself – which is simply entitlement.

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Jay July 27, 2011 at 9:51 am

I don’t see anything really horrible here.. certainly some differences of opinion on manners, but a bodybuilder might cook his own meals due to a restricted diet (for all we know), and not going to volleyball games certainly makes him a lousy boyfriend, but not a boor.

I agree with the general egalitarian point about holding doors for people, but.. eh. Most of this post is third-hand stuff, like “I had only brief contact with them, but my sister confirmed the general sleaziness and standoffishness of their attitudes”.. which we never hear any specifics about.

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Elle July 27, 2011 at 9:51 am

Sorry submitter, I am so not on your side.

Texas vs Florida? This one is so silly I’m not even going there.

Not going to volleyball games? My boyfriend (at the time) never went to any of my rugby games. I only went to one of the plays he starred in (the one he wrote). Sometimes there are things your sweetheart does that just bore you to tears.

Cooking his own food? One month crosses the line between “best party behavior” and “make yourself at home – no really, get your own **** pop.” If he’s a body builder, he probably eats a bit differently than average. Heck, my sister and I maintain that we are each really good cooks. But she lives mostly on fruit and kale smoothies and whole soaked grains while I go completely grain and fruit free and prefer fatty cuts of meat (I’m grain intolerant – not allergic. But I know if I’ve eaten it the next day). We would be so miserable living with each other if one if us got to plan the menu for the whole month.

And if your family had a problem with it then it would behoove them – some time over the three years they were dating – to SAY SOMETHING.

And the wedding thing? My god, I can’t even believe you went with the “we’re genteel Texans and they’re boorish Floridians,” after your sister threw down an ultimatum that she wasn’t going to her boyrfriend’s brother’s wedding without her dad. There are other blogs with very laidback brides who are not nearly as fussed about etiquette as this site and they still flip their cornbread when someone tries to bring along an univited guest. That is Not. Cool. In fact, that is the rudest thing in this whole dang story.

Finally there’s the “oh noes, different families think differently about social issues” faux pas. And frankly, after all of this OP, I am not inclined to give your family the benefit of the doubt. For all I know the boyfriend’s mom could have been one of those women who got very upset and vocal when someone opens the door for her and boyfriend’s dad was forestalling it. Or maybe the dad himself was an old-school feminist.

“She had been trying to break up for a long time but that gave her some resolve not to back out of the final breakup.”
I don’t get this. How do you try to break up for a long time? You call the guy over to a coffee shop. Give him the “It’s not you, it’s me,” and then you are broken up. The dumped party will be hurt and argue the case, but ultimately only one person needs to say “this is over.” This does not speak droves of good things about your sister’s backbone.

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AS July 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

I was quite confused by this post too. Then I saw that other people commented what I was thinking, and I am glad I am not the only one. I don’t see anywhere where the ex lacked maturity. It seems ex-bf is not the best boyfriend. But that is not an etiquette issue.

I don’t get what the op means by “he would prefer to go work out and stroke his ego “. Was he an athlete too? Or did he have a health problem that he was trying counter by exercising? In either of the two cases and several others, it would make sense that he wants to work out, and maybe it is not to “stroke his ego”. I am not even sure the OP actually knows that bf was working out at that time and not doing something else. There is also the possibility he just didn’t like Volleyball, or sitting in a game (lot of people don’t like watching live games as it stresses them out), and would just tell he’ll attend if sister nagged him.

Like others pointed out, is the OP sure that ex did not have some health issue with food? He probably didn’t want to burden the family with cooking for him, and hence cooked his food himself after others have finished eating. If that is the case, it seems very courteous of him.

I’ll not even go into the Texas Vs Florida debate. Others have said everything I could think of saying.

I think that the biggest etiquette blunder was to your father to a wedding, which was committed by the “victim” (OP’s sister) herself. I hope she only meant that he’d accompany her to the town, and not the wedding. If he did accompany her to the wedding, it is extremely generous of ex-bf’s family, and even more uncouth of the OP and his/her family to admonish them.

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Jay July 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

(and really, what’s with the Florida bashing? Is Florida well known for bad manners?)

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Goldie July 27, 2011 at 9:53 am

I agree with Twik on the food issue. I’ve had this happen to me when we visited the in-laws for two weeks – it was great food, don’t get me wrong – but very heavy, consisting entirely of bread and butter and potatoes and meat and sour cream and all things fried. Not a fruit or vegetable in the house. I kept asking the in-laws where the farmers market was, because I wanted to supply fresh produce for the table, and they didn’t know!… I finally managed to find it on my own on our last day there. As a result, I gained fifteen pounds in two weeks that it took me a few years to lose. So, given that the BF wasn’t just over for dinner, but was staying with the OP’s family for a month at a time or longer, I completely understand how, if his diet wasn’t compatible with the family’s, he would try and find ways around it. Like Twik said, at least he wasn’t forcing his diet on the rest of the family!

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Anon July 27, 2011 at 9:54 am

To answer your question “–has anyone else encountered this idea that dropping shows of courtesy or hospitality is a progressive thing?” I would say that in relation to door opening… yes. In fact I have asked men I’ve dated to stop opening doors for me as they did so constantly. Once in a while it is nice, however, I am more than capable of opening my own doors.

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LovleAnjel July 27, 2011 at 10:03 am

If he is a serious competitive body builder, then he is on a very strict diet, both in terms of what he eats, and when he eats. It makes total sense that he skipped a dinner which was probably unbalanced (for him) in terms of carbs & fat, but prepared his own lean meals at another time to avoid getting in the way of the cook (and he also would have to eat every 2-3 hours).

If he is a serious competitive bodybuilder, he is also on a strict training schedule. Undoubtedly his need to “go work out and stroke his ego” was a part of a highly structured body-building plan. Skipping out on a workout would have a huge impact, especially if it was close to competition time.

What you have is two highly involved, competitive athletes whose training and competition schedules were at odds with one another. It sounds like they were both a little full of themselves on top of that. The sister seems to have lacked the Thatchers to just break it off cleanly with this guy, and instead made unreasonable demands about bringing her own guests to his brother’s wedding (was this a passive-aggressive way to get him to break up with her instead?). The snarky comment to the father was rude, but was likely sourced from the observation that this demanding girlfriend had brought her father to both gawk at the “sleazy Floridian” family and run around opening doors for her.

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anonymous July 27, 2011 at 10:12 am

Seriously, what’s up with the whole “we Texans are so polite, those boors from Florida are so rude?” I got news for ya OP, rude people can be found all over the country and world, as can polite people. By implying that Texans are nicer than Floridians based on arbitrarily drawn state lines you’ve shown your own boorishness.

I say this as a New Yorker who is sick to death of people assuming that northerners/New Yorkers are “rude” just because we’re from that part of the country. It’s not true. It just isn’t.

Also, insisting on bringing her father to the wedding? He wasn’t invited. You don’t get to insist on guests that weren’t invited. That’s rude. By doing that she showed that she was no less boorish than they were. On the other hand, there would have been nothing rude about declining the invitation. She was wrong to think that attending was the only polite course of action.

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Sarah Jane July 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

Why did the OP’s sister feel compelled to go to the wedding?

Fellow Texan here. I’ve known plenty of “Floridians” who were neither snobbish and boorish nor sleazy nor standoff-ish.

Also growing tired of the implications that ALL of us females are offended by the “sexist chivalry” of men opening doors for us or giving up their seats for us. Not all of us are. Just sayin’.

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Jared Bascomb July 27, 2011 at 10:16 am

I wonder if the BF’s food “issue” is related to his weight training/bodybuilding? If he was really serious about it, his diet would be high protein/low carb, and what the LW’s family was serving might not meet those requirements, so he prepared his own meals.

That said, as a guest, he should have made an effort to eat with the family (even if it was his own food) at least occasionally, especially since he was staying with them for a month.

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Jared Bascomb July 27, 2011 at 10:19 am

Oh, and the LW’s sister sounds a bit high maintenance herself. She’s a senior in college (age 23? 24?) and Daddy *has* to accompany her to an out-of-town wedding?

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Psyche July 27, 2011 at 10:19 am

I would like to say this: I’m a native Floridian, and we aren’t all like that! In fact, come to Florida during the winter. That’s when the tourists come in and if you think *we* native Floridians are rude, go into any Florida resturant during this time. I’ve heard it said that people who go on vacation seem to forget to pack their brains, and I have to admit, they’re right.

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Bees July 27, 2011 at 10:20 am

Inviting an uninvited (unknown) to someone else’s wedding = not a good idea. Every Region in the states has their own hospitility ideas. When you begin to affliate with a person of a diffrent region it would be wise to expect diffrences. And when visiting them do as the romans do.

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Ista July 27, 2011 at 10:25 am

Something about this story rubbed me wrong, and I had to go think about it a bit before I commented.

I think it was the condescending tone. “If the food was good enough for us, it’s good enough for him” when the ex BF was a bodybuilder and presumable on a strict diet and schedule? “Our state is better than your state” is just a little bit full sweep condescending isn’t it? “He preferred to stroke his ego rather than stroke my sister’s ego” well, that’s not etiquette, it’s bad relationship…but who’s saying that’s really what was going on besides the dejected ex GF? “Sister gave him an ultimatum, then insisted she could bring her father to a wedding, then whoops! NOW she gave him a REAL ultimatum.” I don’t have words for that one.
When I lived near a Native American reservation I was told something I never forgot. White man opens the door for their women, but Native American men traditionally entered the room first to make sure it was safe for the women.
Maybe this situation is poorly described, but I don’t feel either the OP’s family or the ex-BF’s family was treated too horribly badly. Just some light tackiness in the eyes of the beholders, due to regional etiquette differences.

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Saucygirl July 27, 2011 at 10:30 am

Add me to the group that doesn’t like the ops tone and comments. I am also not sure if the boyfriend cooking his own meals and eating at different times is rude. If he was only visiting for a day or so, I would say it definitely was. But the op said he would stay for a month at a time. Combined with being very into fitness and his body, a month is a very long time to expect someone to alter their fitness and eating habits/lifestyle, to accodomate someone elses habits/lifestyle.

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Xtina July 27, 2011 at 10:37 am

I’m probably not posting anything new, as previous posters have astutely commented on all the things that put up red flags for me in the OP’s tone and letter. Agree that the ex-boyfriend sounds like he pulled some rude stunts, but for him and his entire family to be written off, along with the rest of Florida, as boorish and rude beyond all conceivable help, is a really long stretch.

I sure hope that the OP’s sister didn’t *really* extort an invitation for her father to attend the wedding if he had not already been invited prior to that point by the bride and groom—I’d have thought someone so “etiquette-superior” would certainly know what a magnanimous faux pas that would be!!

On the boyfriend fixing his own food—yes, under normal circumstances, I would agree that it is pretty rude to refuse to eat your host’s meals and then commandeer the kitchen for your own, but did the OP’s family ask why he was doing that, and if there was something that could be changed about the meals that would help him be more a part of it? What if he was allergic to something, or had to eat a restricted diet? Instead of standing around talking about how rude that was, perhaps trying to get to the bottom of the problem would have been more beneficial (but let me note here, that doesn’t mean the hosts should change their whole meal plan to suit him, just that if he didn’t ever eat ANYTHING they served, perhaps some small changes or additions could have been made to suit everyone, as a show of good hosting).

To the OP’s question: I think people in this day and age who are, at their core, either lazy, rude, or uncaring of their fellow man probably use “progressive” as an excuse to justify their behavior. Truly caring and couth people of any age, race, or sex will continue to extend hospitality and kindness no matter how society changes because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s fashionable.

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Ashley July 27, 2011 at 10:38 am

Why did it take four paragraphs worth of attempted fancy words to explain something that took up one paragraph worth of the story? Sounds like OP just wanted to try and make herself sound better than she is… I wonder then, if your family is such a beacon of etiquette and manners, then who told you all that it was okay to insist on bringing her father to an event which he wasn’t invited to? Especially when the comment about “bearing witness to the boyfriends family” comes in…you ADMIT he was there basically just to get a load of them?? Wow. As for the comment about the door…Happens all the time. I hold open doors for WHOEVER is behind me, man, woman, child, doesn’t matter. I have been yelled at by older people who insist “I don’t need a young person opening doors for me”. I have also had men open doors for me, then women entirely unrelated to the situation yell about “She isn’t helpless you know, she can open it herself!” It happens. The difference though is that when people yell near me about it, I shrug and let it roll off my shoulders. I don’t act like its the faux pas of the century.

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Gloria Shiner July 27, 2011 at 10:43 am

Glad I wasn’t being overly sensitive in my reactions to this epic tale of horror! As I was reading along, I kept wondering if we were ever going to read any actual examples of the repulsive breaches of etiquette by the BF or if just stating he was from Florida was the proof of his lack of manners.

I think the OP is one of those people who wants to be offended and then uses every little act by another person to be offended.

Poor BF. He’s better off not being a part of the sanctimonious (but polite!) family.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson July 27, 2011 at 10:50 am

Madame Admin — I completely understand!

I agree with most other posters that this is a case of pots and kettles. And clashing egos. However, I think Sister was wise, given the rockiness of her relationship with BF, to ask Dad to accompany her on the trip. If things blew up, which they well could have, she would have back-up and a way to get home. And if their family really was as obsessed with manners as OP says, while it’s fine to be boffing your boyfriend in private, a lady simply doesn’t travel alone with a gentleman to whom she’s not married. Total strangers would think she was a loose woman! (guffaw)

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claire delune July 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

I’m just going to join the chorus of folks wondering why missing volleyball games is a capital etiquette offense, while it’s perfectly acceptable to refuse to be your boyfriend-of-two-years’ date to his brother’s wedding without your father chaperoning you.

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