Manners 2.0: My mother-in-law wants help with her online dating profile

My mother-in-law wants my help writing an online dating profile for Match.com. Should I do it? What if she meets a cyclops on there?

Good on your mother in law for embracing new ways of dating! You must have a special relationship if she feels comfortable asking you for advice.

Before you whip out your iPad and start swiping right, take a step back and have a good chat, in real life. It’s good to recall that while the forums for dating have evolved, it is still plagued by its old analogue issues. People can be less than kind, truthful or responsive. Is your MIL aware that some people are truth-y about their profiles? Does she know that there are some serious creeps out there? Does the term “hook up culture” mean anything to her? Is she aware of how shallow and crass some sites are (swiping, like shopping for shoes, “looks good, I’ll try ’em out!”). If yes, great! She’s a grown woman and might be on the cusp of having a ball. She’ll likely meet lots and lots of cyclops, but she just might meet a gem, too.

The ratio of jerks to gems online is likely comparable to that of a cafe, anyways, it’s just a new medium for meeting them. Help manage her expectations that she’ll likely have to go on some snooze-worthy dates in addition to some fun ones. Such is dating. Help her pick out some photos for her profile and find a great date outfit or two. She’ll likely need a few in the rotation!

I saw a good guy friend on Tinder. I’m not interested in him romantically, but should I still swipe right?

If you saw that same platonic friend at a bar, would you flirt with him out of politesse? An excellent gauge of whether to do something online is to ask yourself if you’d do it offline. Don’t feel pressured into courtesy swiping. Sure, you might fluff his feathers, but what if he’s been in love with you for years, and your innocuous swipe is the sign he’s been waiting for? Or what if he has no feelings for you, and thinks you’re coming on to him? That would mess with a friendship.

Swipe left, then text him to tell him he has a huge booger in nose in his profile photo. That will instantly diffuse any awkwardness and put you firmly back into the friend camp.

Of course, if you’d like my opinion to swipe left or right, please send me his photo — strictly for my professional opinion, of course.

I only accept friend requests from true friends on Facebook. How do I tell my boss and everyone else who wants in to politely f— off?

Do you only go for coffee with “true” friends? I’m curious why you’ve drawn lines around acquaintances versus friends. Do you share extremely intimate content on Facebook? If you do, then I applaud you for being so fastidious with keeping your content congruous with your audience. It is when those things get funky that issues arise.

Don’t feel compelled to accept every friend request that you receive. In fact, you don’t need to accept or even decline them. You can leave them in request purgatory, if you’re worried about hurting feelings. If a colleague, not a “true friend” by your measures, sends you a Facebook friend request, hop on over to LinkedIn and add them there. Include a short message explaining that you’re awful at keeping up on Facebook, but that you look forward to keeping in touch on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: if you’re taking this course of action, check that your profile privacy settings are such that no one can nose around your profile, to call your bluff on your alleged Facebook inactivity.

I was creeping my ex-boyfriend online and accidentally clicked on his LinkedIn profile. Can I somehow change my settings so he doesn’t find out?

Busted! Well, it happened and you’ve been caught clicking red handed. The bad news is that no, you can’t undo your snooping. But if you plan on future espionage, yes, you can make yourself anonymous on LinkedIn. Hover your cursor over your photo in the top right-hand corner, and the Account & Settings menu will drop down. Click on Privacy & Settings, then scroll to the bottom for Privacy Controls section. Click on the “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile” to edit your settings. Le voila, you can make yourself virtually invisible.

Now that the tech support portion of this column is complete, can I ask, why the creeping? No one ever feels better after creeping their ex online, ever. So when the temptation to see what he’s up to strikes, channel it somewhere else. Update your own profile, make a new playlist, scheme an amazing vacation, enjoy some excellent cat videos, what have you. Instead of googling his name, Google “best hiit at home workout.” Much more cathartic than looking at his mug.

Each week, etiquette expert Karen Cleveland answers your questions about life online. Tweet her your questions: @SchoolFinishing

(Originally appeared in the Toronto Star, September 2015)

Introducing The Skimm

A solid handshake, warm smile and immaculate manners go a long way, but the art of giving good, smart small talk is key. I read a great little book on the subject and a while back talked about the importance of knowing how to properly introduce your boss socially.

It’s pretty well impossible to make quality small talk without knowing what’s going on in the world. A quick skim of the daily news allows you to keep pace on light banter. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to be stuck in an elevator with someone you want to do right by, and they’re talking about the ground-breaking morning headlines that you know nothing about. No one wants to feel like a dumbdumb. Moreover, local and global news are typically safe terrain for small talk (provide you stay clear of the being fiercely opinionated on the loaded territory of politics, religion and investing, unless you welcome controversy).

While I love curling up with a coffee and getting all inky-fingered over a newspaper, I was recently introduced to The Skimm, which lives up to its advanced billing of a skim of daily news. The daily newsletter has become a part of my morning routine, giving me the what-I-need-to-knows for the day. From there, I can later go back and scope for what stories I want to read in more detail from my usual go-to sources.

While the content is bonafide news (its founders are NBC News alumni) short, it is served up in a pithy, witty tone. As The Skimm is published out of NYC, American headlines are requisite, but the coverage of international issues is mint. Maybe one day they’ll make a Canadian edition, if we ask them really nicely.

Manners are sexy, so is keeping up on what’s happening. You can subscribe (free!) here. And follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Before your hot Valentine’s date

Groomed? Smell good? Have a nice outfit? Ready to kiss all over town? Good for you. Love is grand. Since you’re already up to speed on dating decorum and swear not to Instragram your dinner, consider grabbing a few of these goodies before walking out the door.

Such a tiny package brings such salvation. The one time you don’t have floss is the one time that piece of spinach will bind itself in between your teeth.

 


Have cash to pay for parking, cabs that don’t take cards and those hipster restaurants that only take paper.

 

 


Don’t let slushy streets and sidewalks mess with your mojo.These handy wipes get rid of salty and muck in a flash.

 

 

Bring your phone not so you can text on it all night or Instagram your dinner, duh (please dear God and Cupid don’t take a photo of your dinner) but so you can smartly map where you’re meeting and get there nice and early.

Last Minute-ish ideas for Valentines Day

If you haven’t been hit over the head with onslaught of bad chocolate and tacky lingerie, count yourself lucky. Then come out from under the rock you’ve been living under, and concede that Valentine’s Day is here.

And if you hate on it, you can rest assured that you’re in good company, lots of people think Valentine’s Day is overblown and lame. But your honey might not give a hoot about how commercial or stupid you think February 14 is — they might still be hoping you do something, anything, to mark the occasion. You need not feel like a sell-out or go broke in the process.

Best bets for late (ish) Valentine’s Day gifts

Really, really good quality chocolate

  • Pro tip: if you can buy it alongside dish detergent and cat litter, you’re not buying good enough chocolate.


Something fun to do together

  • How do you want to spend an evening together? Getting rubbed down for a couples’ massage? Seeing a great band or comedian together? Taking a wine tasting class? No need to take one for the team, find something that you’re into, too.


A gift that gives all year long

  • Get pregnant! Kidding. Magazine subscriptions or loading up your lover’s e-reader with really great content will have them swooning all year long.

Get outta here

  • Go out of town and make out in a new, undiscovered territory. You need not go far to feel miles and miles away.

 

 

 

Niagara Icewine Festival Survival

Bundled up to brave the frigid Lake Effect temperatures, standing a stone’s throw from the frozen river bed — all for the sole purpose of drinking icewine. I’ve never felt more patriotic.

I wrote about the must do’s to hit during the Niagara Icewine Festival, so here’s a few things to pack.

Icewine Fest Survival

Check out Canada Goose, Burt’s Bees, Malin + Goetz, Balzac’s and The Hudson’s Bay.