Social Etiquette and Good Manners/double standard?


I'm a male and have been emailing an old (we're both in our 60's) school classmate for awhile, just light banter. I live in Colorado, she lives in Alabama. We are both single and several times she has suggested we meet, 'just as friends.' I'm really not interested in her romantically, though based on her situation and things she has said, I'm sure she would hope for it turn into something more. We both live on a limited budget and I would have to fly there and get a hotel (she lives w/sister), which would cost me around $700, that's a lot of money to me. I wouldn't expect her to pay for any of it, yet if it were reversed and I suggested she fly here, I would of course pay her way here. So in either case, it seems the man should pay? Again, we are just email friends at this point. It would look cheap for me to bring it up with her (though I casually suggested meeting halfway, which turns out to be Oklahoma, but I don't want to make a woman her age drive that distance by herself). But it just seems like a double standard to me. I would be investing a lot of money just to meet someone I don't know well, while she would be out nothing...good deal for her, not me. It just doesn't seem right or fair to me...or is it? What do you think about it? Thanks

Dear Lee: Thank you for your question.

Personally, I think it would be a mistake for you to take on all of the expenses for the type of "meet-just-as-friends" reunion that you are describing. I could see this type of get-together taking place if you found that both of you were going to be in a neutral city at the same time or if either of you had personal travel or business travel that would take you to within a few hours' drive of the other's home town, but to invest the time, energy and money that would be required for you to present yourself on this friend's doorstep will indicate to her that you are extremely eager for this meeting to take place.  From the tone of your inquiry, I don't think that is the case.

You are, indeed, a gentleman to think that this lady should not be burdened with a drive by herself to a mid-point location. But, no, a gentleman is no longer required to pay the bulk of expenses in a friendship, romantic or otherwise. Because your friend seems more keen on this reunion than you, she should assume some (at least half) of the burden of planning and financing this meeting.  Before you spend your time and money to travel to her city, think about other ways of connecting and building this friendship. Then, in future, who knows...?

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Nancy Mitchell


Social etiquette; Business etiquette; Entertaining etiquette; Wedding etiquette; Protocol, domestic (US) and international; Flag etiquette; Dining etiquette; Restaurant etiquette; Spa etiquette; Travel etiquette


Nancy R. Mitchell is a nationally recognized etiquette and protocol consultant and trainer with more than 30 years of experience in the field. She owns the firm The Etiquette Advocate and is an owner and founding partner of the firm Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at The George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses in the School of Business and the Career Center, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was director of special events and protocol at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other distinguished visitors, galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, Mitchell served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, embassies, academia and corporations.

Protocol and Diplomacy - International Protocol Association

Mitchell is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by CNN, ABC Nightline, Martha Stewart Living Radio, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, the Associated Press and Washingtonian magazine, has been featured on ABC Good Morning America, Fox News and National Public Radio, and is an etiquette columnist for, etiquette consultant to Alexandria Woman and to Engaged! magazine, and technical editor of Wedding Etiquette for Dummies (Wiley, 2010).

B.S., University of Utah, 1969

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