Dear Miss Manners: I am dating a lovely young gentleman who is sweet, caring and tall. Recently, however, another gentleman who is much more, shall we say, spicy, has begun paying unasked-for attentions to me.

I greatly enjoy his company, but in my current relationship, I am unwilling to see him as anything more than a friend. On the other hand, I cannot help but become confused and unsure of my feelings in such a situation. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Your current problem — namely, “Tall or Spicy?’’ — is not one that etiquette can answer. Once you have made that decision, Miss Manners would be happy to answer the etiquette problem that will inevitably ensue.

Dear Miss Manners: I connected with an old girlfriend from way back. She lost her husband several years ago. We have been chatting via email for a while, and things are going great. She is reserved and quiet, but very chatty online.

Neither one of us is on social media. I feel it is time that I asked that we exchange pictures. Should be pretty simple. I guess nerves have got the best of me. What do I say/how do I word it? I guess I'm afraid of scaring her. Silly me.

Not having a social media presence has not, unfortunately, inoculated you against some of the less pleasant expectations the online world has created around romance.

It is now often possible to learn the appearance, financial situation and other specifics about a person before actually meeting. But that does not make doing so polite — or flattering. If you want to know if she looks as good as you remember, you may have to ask her out for coffee. You could accompany the request with “before’’ and “after’’ photos of yourself, humorously suggesting that it will help her recognize you when she sees you.

Dear Miss Manners: Often at lunch, and occasionally at dinner, fast-casual restaurants will serve a meal on a plate with the messiest dish, such as a stew, in a bowl on that plate. The plate is already filled with perhaps salad, beans and rice. Further, the bowl is already up against that rice, and some of the rice has stuck to the bowl.

If I leave the bowl on the plate, it is awkward to eat the other foods. If I set the bowl on the table and use it as a serving bowl, I get rice on the table. What is the proper way to eat such a dinner?

Eat one of the outside items until you have cleared enough space that you can then slide the bowl to the edge of the plate (without actually dismounting it). This can be repeated with the remaining foods and containers. As each item is consumed, subsequent maneuvers will become easier. With restaurants making tables smaller and putting them closer together, you may find yourself doing a similar dance on your way out the door. This is not Miss Manners’ idea of an enjoyable evening out, but presumably enough customers like it to justify the practice.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website,

2018, by Judith Martin