To Speak or Not To Speak: The Etiquette of Unsolicited Dating Advice
That is the (very thorny) question.
There's no excuse for bad manners. Good manners are free of charge, easy to employ, and bona fide evidence that your mama and daddy raised you right. But sometimes, matters of etiquette prove trickier than you might expect, so we're here to set the record straight. Consider it your Southern Living guide to modern manners. Be polite, or die trying, y'all.
Let's talk love and fledgling relationships.
"I have a friend who has never been married. He has recently begun dating a widow who lost her husband of many years just a few months ago. I fear it's too soon and that my friend will ultimately end up hurt. Is it appropriate for me to voice my concerns?"
Well, I'll be. This is a doozy-and-a-half if I've ever heard one.
As is often the case with the trickiest of etiquette matters, the underlying concern here seems to be an honest and well-meaning consideration of your friend's feelings. Should you spare your friend what seems to be inevitable heartache? Or just let your friend enjoy himself in the here-and-now?
But here's the thing: However noble your intentions (and people always feel quite certain that their intentions are the noblest), when it comes to matters of the heart, it's best to keep your thoughts to yourself—especially if nobody has asked you for an opinion.
While the widow's quick turnaround onto the dating scene may send up red flags for you, it's important to remember that everyone grieves differently and that she alone is in control of her grieving process. After two months, she may very well feel healed and free to carry on with her life. She and your friend are adults, and as long as they are bringing out the best in each other and enjoying each other's company, you're free to sit back and shut your mouth.
Now, if your friend comes to you asking for your thoughts on the matter, it's fine to be honest. Just be sure to voice your opinions delicately and without judgement, as you'll want your friend to feel supported and encouraged in whichever path he chooses.
Of course, whether your friend has solicited your advice or not, he may ultimately face heartbreak and heartache; and when that happens, you can step in to bring over a couple of beers; a cheesy, sausage-y casserole; and some words of encouragement—no "I told you so's" allowed.
Where do you stand on these tricky etiquette issues?