Chapter 9 Manners Do Count!
My friend Kate, age 32, is attracted to bad boys, as are so many women. A little scraggly, a little shady, her boyfriend, Rob, can be mysterious in a spicy way. He can be loving on rare occasions, but is aloof much of the time. He’s often unreliable, but reliable enough to keep her hooked. He smokes, of course, dresses in jeans, old T-shirts and a leather jacket.
Sounds like a typical 20-something, right? Well, Rob is 41 years old. He has a cool job as a sous-chef, which means plenty of late nights, lots of drinking, rough language and more than a little misogyny. There’s a certain glamour to that picture, isn’t there? At least there was until Kate took Rob home to meet her folks.
His devil-may-care, slicked back hair just looked greasy. His ripped T-shirt looked sloppy. His rough language made her parents cringe, and Kate couldn’t ignore the shock and disapproval on their faces. All of a sudden, she was excruciatingly aware that he smelled like an ashtray.
To make matters worse, he had bad manners. He nodded upon being introduced to her parents, rather than shaking hands. He sunk into her father’s easy chair without waiting to be invited to sit down. He ignored the glass Kate’s mother brought for his beer and drank from the can. He began eating before his hostess, made no comment on the food, and did not offer to help with clean-up.
Seen through her parents’ eyes, Rob — for the first time — seemed repulsive. Her parents didn’t need to voice any criticism. Kate realized for herself that Rob would never fit in with her family. Maybe his demeanor would have been perfectly acceptable in another family, but not in hers.
It’s not so much a matter of good vs. bad manners, but about having compatible ideas about manners. Kate never met Rob’s family, but if they were like him, they might have found her uptight and pretentious.
If you’re not comfortable introducing your man to family and friends, then he’s simply not a good fit. Unless both of you are up for a makeover, best to end the relationship.
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