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Author Topic: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner  (Read 56290 times)

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maryb

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #60 on: November 28, 2007, 10:59:24 AM »
I really honestly and truly don't think that because several etiquette mavens say something is so, that means it is so.  I don't believe that seating couples apart from one another serves anything at all unless this is a large state dinner instead of a private home dining situation.  And I don't think it's proper etiquette in the slightest. 

People differ on etiquette issues such as this one all the time and I really dislike it when things are stated "THIS IS SO" when it doesn't really apply for many, many people, and the way those many, many people do things is not shockingly wrong.

It's not a faux pas to seat couples together.  I do not believe, for a second, that the majority of  couples would go to a function, be seated together and think, "Wow, that was tacky.  The proper etiquette is we shouldn't be sitting together!"  I doubt most couples would think anything of it at all.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2007, 11:01:30 AM by maryb »

ZipTheWonder

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #61 on: November 28, 2007, 11:03:06 AM »
Again, unless people have some sort of social phobia, why are you socializing if you only want to sit and talk with the person you live with? Why not just stay home? Are you joined at the hip?

But, why the assumption (not yours, etiquette assumes this) that spouses sitting adjacent are only going to sit and talk amongst themselves?  They might have an exclusive conversation; they might not -- but that might also be true when one is seated next to a fascinating stranger.  

Elle

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #62 on: November 28, 2007, 11:04:46 AM »
I really honestly and truly don't think that because several etiquette mavens say something is so, that means it is so. 

I'm confused. Isn't that the point of having etiquette mavens? To tell us what is and is not done in situations that we don't encounter often enough to be conversant with (like formal dining).

(Not trying to be antagonistic. I'm just genuinely puzzled)

cruise07

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #63 on: November 28, 2007, 11:05:10 AM »
Exactly, most couples would expect to sit together at any function. I would't complain BUT we would not be staying long.  

Squeaks

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #64 on: November 28, 2007, 11:05:48 AM »

Why exactly do you think you have the right to fix a "trivial" problem that is actually correct etiquette?


Well for one I am not helpless, for two i do not like to draw attention to other's mistakes - that to me sounds rude, There is no need to involve the already stressed host/hostess in something that can be resolved without them.  To me it is tantamount to a vegetarian discreetly removing meat from a dish rather than saying "ohh  you put meat on my dish - that was a mistake"  there is no need to draw attention to it.

and the fact that it is Correct Etiquette is actually irrelevant to my response.  Yes I would have been misinformed - but i have no way of being psychic.  I said if not for this board and this discussion I would *thought* it was a mistake - not that it was.  I am allowed to be wrong.  Yes I would have been wrong in that assumption, but that also only makes me human

Again, unless people have some sort of social phobia, why are you socializing if you only want to sit and talk with the person you live with?


Its a dinner party, not two minutes in haven - I would assume it is possible for a group of people to talk amongst themselves rather effectively,  Why would you assume that I only want to talk with who i live with?  My being next to a SO in no way whatsoever prohibits me from talking to others. 

And maybe i am socializing out of respect for the SO and would rather be home - like that has never happened.


Why not just stay home? Are you joined at the hip?

Maybe I am there out of respect/request of my SO, maybe it is a situation that it would look bad if I did stay home, Maybe i did not *want* to stay home but rather wanted to have a night out *with* the SO as well as socializing.  Maybe i wanted to meet people my SO knows and want to be introduced slowly.

Why do we have the rule that "social units" must be invited together, if it is not expect for them to spend time together?  Why not only invite half if it is so logical to break them up.  Seems contradictory to me.

And yes - when i am uncomfortable, and my SO can help, yes I am joined at the hip it that helps.  So what

Or maybe i was mistaken about the nature of the party and would have stayed home had i known more.


jimithing

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #65 on: November 28, 2007, 11:06:17 AM »
It's not a faux pas to seat couples together.  I do not believe, for a second, that the majority of  couples would go to a function, be seated together and think, "Wow, that was tacky.  The proper etiquette is we shouldn't be sitting together!"  I doubt most couples would think anything of it at all.

Excellent point.  I agree that it is the most proper and formal etiquette to seat couples separately.  But I don't think it would be in poor etiquette not to, and if that will make your guests feel more comfortable, then why not? 

Having DH sit next to me would actually facilitate the likelihood that he would talk to others, rather than putting him next to strangers, which would basically guarantee he wouldn't, making a miserable time for him, and a not very pleasant time for those seated next to him.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2007, 11:09:13 AM by jimithing »

cruise07

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #66 on: November 28, 2007, 11:07:45 AM »
I really honestly and truly don't think that because several etiquette mavens say something is so, that means it is so. 

I'm confused. Isn't that the point of having etiquette mavens? To tell us what is and is not done in situations that we don't encounter often enough to be conversant with (like formal dining).

(Not trying to be antagonistic. I'm just genuinely puzzled)

Its kind of like what the latest fashion is, or what the runway models are wearing....in the end you really need to use good common sense.   :)

RuneGuardian

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #67 on: November 28, 2007, 11:08:07 AM »
I didn't know couples needed to be seated separately - that's news to me. It's not bad, but man, if I'm in a place where I have to sit with a whole bunch of people I don't know, I want to be near BF so I have at least someone to converse with (and I don't get to see BF that often to begin with).

Sharnita

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #68 on: November 28, 2007, 11:08:20 AM »
While I don't believe it is a faux pas to seperate couples I don't think it follows that it is automatically a faux pas not to seperate them.  Quite frankly as aq single woman i have no spouse to ever be by my side so i have no stake in this issue.  That having been said I think there is always room for compromise, on both sides.

The reality is that this precedent was originally established by the elite for very formal parties.  I don't attend formal parties. I am not part of the elite, never hope to be.  If I am having dinner with people who are or aspire to be and they want to seat me x, fine.  If I am dining with a "pull up a chair" crowd, fine.  If I was uncomfortable with hte procedures at any of these events I wouldn't grouse all night long.

Flora Louise

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #69 on: November 28, 2007, 11:09:32 AM »
I despise "forced mingling" and generally the people who do it. The older I've gotten the greater my social anxiety has become. I would be okay if I knew most everyone there, but if I was seated next to new people without my DH next to me I would probably freak out inside.

I can fake it with the best of them, but I would be quietly miserable and try to leave as soon as possible. I would then try to avoid that person from then on out because I would feel uncomfortable everytime I was around them. I know this isn't the best reaction, but I can't seem to stop myself.

This is one of those cases that I think etiquette can be very rude.

Since I'm one of the people who do it, I'm really sorry to be someone you'd despise. I guess I am guilty of "forcing" people to mingle with my seating but honestly, I've never known anyone to seem offended by my seating arrangement. I find a lot of different people interesting and love to invite new guests to parties because I think they'll hit it off with other, oft-invited guests. I like to think I work pretty hard at it. At my last one, I had a very outgoing financial type who chairs charity art exhibits in her spare time; the registrar of the Art Institute of Chicago; an ex-priest who now does social work with some of the poorest people in the city; my upstairs neighbor who does something or other I can't understand in IT; a Cook County Circuit Court judge;a special needs teacher; an administrative assistant; a professional boat restorer/crewman on racing sail boats; and an actor.

No one sat beside his spouse and all of them conversed with each other. Take from us what they will, they can't say we don't have range.
Just because you're disappointed in me doesn't mean I did anything wrong.

EeyoreCorbie

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #70 on: November 28, 2007, 11:10:45 AM »

Why exactly do you think you have the right to fix a "trivial" problem that is actually correct etiquette?

Again, unless people have some sort of social phobia, why are you socializing if you only want to sit and talk with the person you live with? Why not just stay home? Are you joined at the hip?

I do have social phobia's but that doesn't mean I like it. I like to go to social functions and meet new people. But, without my DH I would probably sit by myself in the corner. He gives me support and a feeling of safety and comfort. He is also very outgoing and talkative so all I have to do in the beginning is stand next to him and maybe add a few things till I feel comfortable enough to start functioning on my own. If I were put in a new environment and forced to sit between two strangers I would almost shut down. I would also be able to see my DH living it up and being his normal outgoing self and beginning to quietly resent him and grow more and more angry with the person who put me in this situation, namely me for going at all.

So my point is, even if you are socially phobic it doesn't mean you like being stuck at home all the time and unable to function.

Sharnita

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #71 on: November 28, 2007, 11:12:43 AM »
Flora, if you nkew one of your guests had extreme social anxiety and would be reassured be be seated beside/near their spouse would you then seat them next to said spouse?

cruise07

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #72 on: November 28, 2007, 11:14:03 AM »

Why exactly do you think you have the right to fix a "trivial" problem that is actually correct etiquette?


Well for one I am not helpless, for two i do not like to draw attention to other's mistakes - that to me sounds rude, There is no need to involve the already stressed host/hostess in something that can be resolved without them.  To me it is tantamount to a vegetarian discreetly removing meat from a dish rather than saying "ohh  you put meat on my dish - that was a mistake"  there is no need to draw attention to it.

and the fact that it is Correct Etiquette is actually irrelevant to my response.  Yes I would have been misinformed - but i have no way of being psychic.  I said if not for this board and this discussion I would *thought* it was a mistake - not that it was.  I am allowed to be wrong.  Yes I would have been wrong in that assumption, but that also only makes me human

Again, unless people have some sort of social phobia, why are you socializing if you only want to sit and talk with the person you live with?


Its a dinner party, not two minutes in haven - I would assume it is possible for a group of people to talk amongst themselves rather effectively,  Why would you assume that I only want to talk with who i live with?  My being next to a SO in no way whatsoever prohibits me from talking to others. 

And maybe i am socializing out of respect for the SO and would rather be home - like that has never happened.


Why not just stay home? Are you joined at the hip?

Maybe I am there out of respect/request of my SO, maybe it is a situation that it would look bad if I did stay home, Maybe i did not *want* to stay home but rather wanted to have a night out *with* the SO as well as socializing.  Maybe i wanted to meet people my SO knows and want to be introduced slowly.

Why do we have the rule that "social units" must be invited together, if it is not expect for them to spend time together?  Why not only invite half if it is so logical to break them up.  Seems contradictory to me.

And yes - when i am uncomfortable, and my SO can help, yes I am joined at the hip it that helps.  So what

Or maybe i was mistaken about the nature of the party and would have stayed home had i known more.




Wisdom goes much further, and a hostess should only seat her guests apart if she knows them well and knowing they would be fine with that. Otherwise they should be seated together because having a successful party is making your guests comfortable and happy....not trying to control them or inflicting your beliefs on them.

NOVA Lady

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #73 on: November 28, 2007, 11:14:53 AM »
I despise "forced mingling" and generally the people who do it. The older I've gotten the greater my social anxiety has become. I would be okay if I knew most everyone there, but if I was seated next to new people without my DH next to me I would probably freak out inside.

I can fake it with the best of them, but I would be quietly miserable and try to leave as soon as possible. I would then try to avoid that person from then on out because I would feel uncomfortable everytime I was around them. I know this isn't the best reaction, but I can't seem to stop myself.

This is one of those cases that I think etiquette can be very rude.

Since I'm one of the people who do it, I'm really sorry to be someone you'd despise. I guess I am guilty of "forcing" people to mingle with my seating but honestly, I've never known anyone to seem offended by my seating arrangement. I find a lot of different people interesting and love to invite new guests to parties because I think they'll hit it off with other, oft-invited guests. I like to think I work pretty hard at it. At my last one, I had a very outgoing financial type who chairs charity art exhibits in her spare time; the registrar of the Art Institute of Chicago; an ex-priest who now does social work with some of the poorest people in the city; my upstairs neighbor who does something or other I can't understand in IT; a Cook County Circuit Court judge;a special needs teacher; an administrative assistant; a professional boat restorer/crewman on racing sail boats; and an actor.

No one sat beside his spouse and all of them conversed with each other. Take from us what they will, they can't say we don't have range.

I agree with you completely. It surprised me I am despised in this way.

I know my friends, I guess I personally don't have close friends with the social anxiety issues that some others experience. I do feel more inclined to interperse some of the new guests so they don't feel isolated.

Brentwood

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Re: Couples Can Sit Seperately at Dinner
« Reply #74 on: November 28, 2007, 11:15:13 AM »
Flora, if you nkew one of your guests had extreme social anxiety and would be reassured be be seated beside/near their spouse would you then seat them next to said spouse?

I can't speak for Flora, but if I knew one of my guests had extreme social anxiety, I would probably not invite her to a large formal dinner party, because I would know she'd be unhappy and uncomfortable. I would invite her to smaller, more intimate gatherings where she'd be more likely to be able to relax and have a good time.


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