Not Quite Right in the Kisser

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dear Miss Manners:

Recently, I met a man whom I like very much. He's charming, kind, funny, has good taste and seems decently placed in society both monetarily and socially. On one of our subsequent dates, he took me to a local landmark and proceeded to kiss me. The issue becomes that the man is not a very good kisser.

What is the best way to go about telling this potential future mate that he does not please me when he kisses me, and the best way to remedy the situation?

I must say, I am not the most polite girl on the block; I tend to believe that honesty is the best in all situations, but I care enough about this guy that I don't want to trample his feelings. Miss Manners has far more experience with tact than I do. What is Miss Manners's take on this problem?

Isn't it enough that Miss Manners is trying to teach people to behave civilly to one another? Can't she trust those who are in love to . . .

Never mind. Deepest apologies. Valentine's Day is upon us, and her heart is not made of stone.

Honesty is a perfectly horrid policy if it means telling a gentleman that his kisses are unappealing. He is not likely to inflict them on you again.

What you can do is to assume a mischievous look and whisper, "May I show you how I want to kiss you?" He will then be only too happy to allow you to give instructions and demonstrate what you mean.

Now what was it that you assumed Miss Manners had more experience with than you?

Dear Miss Manners:

What is the most correct way to have a discussion with or to communicate to a friend of mine (a woman) that I have a crush on her? Unfortunately, I have no prior experience with this so am completely lost as to what would be the correct manner to go about this.

A box of chocolates with a card reading "From your secret admirer"? No, Miss Manners supposes that those days, when the lady would give each of her gentleman acquaintances a shy smile to see which one blushed, are over. Today's recipient might be just as likely to make a public joke of it or snap that someone was trying to sabotage her diet.

However, other old-fashioned ways are still workable and, in Miss Manners's opinion, preferable, to the blunt, if not crude, modern approach. These consist of subtle, nonverbal hints that could or could not be accidental -- sitting closer than necessary, looking deeply into the eyes, resting a hand lightly on the arm, and so on. The uncertainty about whether such gestures were intentional is itself exciting. But it also has deniability. If the lady moves away from you, you can spare yourself being rejected. If she sustains these gestures, you may safely declare yourself.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) atMissManners@unitedmedia.comor mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

2007Judith Martin

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