Following proper etiquette is extremely important here at Rue, but sometimes it can be hard to know what exactly is proper because norms are always changing. Today we’re tackling a three pieces of propriety that have become a bit outdated.

Opening the door
Outdated: A gentleman always holds the door for a lady.
Updated: A gentleman always holds the door for whoever follows him, provided he gets to the door first. A lady does the same.

This one really is simple. It’s always rude to just let the door close in someone’s face so hold it open for the next person. If you are walking with a group you know and reach the door first, hold it for the whole group. If you are walking alone but someone is close behind, hold the door for them.

The exception may be if you are leaving a crowded event and many people you don’t know will follow you out the door. In this case, you merely need to ‘hand off’ the door, that is, hold it until the person behind you has a hand holding it as well and then continue on your way to not hold up traffic (or get stuck playing bellhop to the masses.)

Paying for a date
Outdated: The man pays.
Updated: The person who asks pays, without suggesting going dutch.

Then the person who was asked can offer to split or accept the gift. This one can always be tricky because who is ‘asking’ is sometimes ambiguous as is what is a ‘date.’ If you aren’t sure, offer to cover the check. Then, if they offer to split, take them up on the offer. Meals should not be a negotiation, so if your date offers to pay and declines your suggestion of splitting the bill, acquiesce. If the date turns into more dates, you can discuss how you’d like to split bills in the future.

Seats on Mass Transit
Outdated: Men stand to give a woman a seat.
Updated: The young and able-bodied offer seats to the elderly, pregnant women, or anyone who looks like they may need to sit.

“Anyone who looks like they may need to sit” can be a wide range- the nurse that clearly just left an overnight shift or someone with knee brace on, regardless of age or gender. The polite way to leave your seat is to make eye contact with the person and either gesture or ask directly if they care for a seat while standing up. If they decline, you may reclaim your seat or leave it open.

Image is from our Jingle Belle story in our Holiday 2011 issue