A few weeks ago The Cut had an interesting article about “the new rules” for etiquette, tipping, texting, ghosting, hosting, and more… so let’s discuss! What older etiquette rules do you still follow? What newer etiquette rules do you recognize? (Did The Cut get it right?)
Parts of The Cut’s Etiquette Advice I Disagree With the Most
“You can cancel any plans up to 12 p.m.” (#2) – Really? As an introvert who almost always wants to cancel, this seems completely rude to me.
Straight people shouldn’t use the word partner (#10) – I’m intrigued by this one, but I’m coming at this from the perspective of a content creator — and I would raise an eyebrow if official communications from a company, school, or charity activity weren’t inclusive, whether to say “+1” or to say “partner.”
For group dinners with friends, always split the bill evenly and put it on one card (#55) – Yikes, really? I haven’t gone out on a ton of group dinners in the past three years or so, but it feels like it’s just so, so easy for the server to take multiple credit cards. I realize it can be annoying to say “Put $50 on this card and $100 on this card,” but if the group is small enough (maybe four people, max) it feels like it would be OK.
No matter if you’re on the subway, in the office, or at a party, you should be the first one to bounce when things go wrong for any reason. (#70) – Again: really? Part of the theory here is that you should be brave enough to leave a boring party so that you’re freeing up others to do the same — but some of my expectations of Very Good Friends are that we come and stay for the parties, even the boring ones, and do what we can do make it more interesting.
They say it’s OK to text, email, or DM anyone at any hour (#94) — Emails and DMs, yes, but NO for texting. These days so many of my friends go to bed on the earlier side that I honestly feel bad for texting people after 9:30 p.m. unless there’s something dire.
Readers, how about you — what were your thoughts on the etiquette advice? Do you have different thoughts on any of the rules I disagreed with? In general, what older etiquette rules do you think are less important, and what new rules exist?
#120 says to ignore when a kid’s birthday invite says “No Gifts Please.” That is 100 percent wrong advice!
+1 although I do think bringing a card is a good idea in that situation.
I think a card is somewhere between fine and lovely in this situation, especially if it’s handmade by the child guest. +1 that when I put “no gifts please” on an invitation to a child’s birthday party, I really, really mean it. As do my kids. Please don’t bring a gift.
My son once drew a card for his older sister’s friend that said “happy birthday, you’re ok for a girl, I guess” and had a drawing of a fire breathing dragon setting a house on fire.
It’s a keep forever kind of card.
For kid parties, I bring a book or two when the invitation says “no gifts please.” I figured it gives the kid the joy of something to open and accomplishes the parents’ goal of not cluttering a house when the kid already has so many toys. For adults, I bring a bottle of wine or similarly consumable token gift.
I don’t understand this at all. In what other circumstances in contemporary america are we advised that no means yes? I have made donations in people’s names in this circumstance (like donated to a teacher’s amazon wish list if the kid in the classes mom said no gifts) but generally I think people say no gifts because they don’t want them. My kids (and i’m hardly rich) had a glut of everything (including books) when they were little. I would never say no gifts because they loved getting them but if other mom’s feel differently, I certainly wouldn’t disregard the directions of a host.
And, anon at 6:44 accomplishes making it awkward for those who didn’t bring presents and annoying the parents who said “no gifts.”
Hmm I don’t really think this is ok. You’re ignoring the host’s wishes and marking other guests who followed the directions feel embarrassed.
Also speaking as a parent, books are actually my *least* favorite thing to receive. They clutter the house just as much as toys and don’t bring my kid as much joy as a toy would. (Of course if you give me one, I will be gracious – but just saying I don’t think it’s a universal parent opinion that books are the best kid gifts.) And books aren’t consumable so I don’t think wine is a great analogy.
I think it’s a good article and we do need an update as Emily Post never imagined many of these modern situations. This one jumped out at me:
“What I cannot understand is ghosting someone and then coming back several years later to request a favor that would have been a considerable ask even if we had remained friendly.”
This has happened to me so many times. Its mystifying. I usually don’t respond unless they happen to catch me on the phone, and I have literally said “please don’t call me again.”
I have had this happen a lot of times, but I also often feel close to people I don’t see regularly, and I understand why they would reach out to me at the times they do and not at other times. I guess this doesn’t bother me so long as it’s reciprocal?
In my case it wasn’t friends but mainly people I’d dated or slept with. If you ghosted me after that, I have no interest in the favor and/or booty call you’re contacting me about.
It has happened with more casual friends, and I don’t feel bad about ghosting them back, but I probably wouldn’t go all the way to “please don’t call me again.”
I thought that article was a humor piece.
good point, some of these are quite ridiculous!
When I read that piece I thought that either I was living on another planet from the people who wrote that piece (and maybe I am, as I’ve never lived in NYC or a big East Coast city) or that they were deliberately trying to be provocative in order to go viral.
I thought it was satire! Like some of their rules are so blatantly absurd that they can’t possibly be real.
I think you can message, including text, anyone at any hour. I go to bed early and wake up early so I often wake up to a lot of texts. I think each person bears responsibility for making sure the phone is silent when the person is sleeping; it’s not the responsibility of the person sending the message.
I thought so too but a lot of people have criticized me for texting too late so now I’m wary.
I agree that you can text anyone anytime. People need to mute their phones if they keep them next to the bed.
This is what I thought!
I’m older (early 50’s), but the rule used to be don’t call someone on the telephone late at night unless it is an emergency since obviously because that is loud and and is very disruptive. But ever since the internet started sending email was a great way to get things done at random hours without bothering with a call. And I treat texts the same. Well, I do admit I am sometimes careful about texting one of my relatives late because I know he goes to be early and is so easily disrupted. And since no one answers their telephone now I have had MANY frustrating situations where I needed to reach someone at that minute and they were unreachable, including medical emergencies.
I have my iphone in sleep mode at night so only my emergency contacts ring or ding through. I put my college aged kids in the emergency contacts field because I do want them to be able to reach me 24/7 in case of emergency.
Unfortunately I often get a ding that my daughter is texting me at 2AM or 6AM, and when I immediately wake up to look at it, it’s a forward of a meme or something.
This is what do not disturb is for. Unless you are my immediate family or call 3 times in a row in short succession (which is set to get past my DND), what happens between midnight and 8 am is between you and God.
No, don’t text people in the middle of the night! I have my phone set to only get texts from my son and brother but not everyone can figure out Do Not Disturb on their phones.
14. Never send an edible arrangement.
Sorry that’s made up bs. Sending a Turkey does not work for vegetarians, vegans, and, depending, people of various faiths.
15. Don’t ghost after one date.
Absent some issues with the date (he’s married, he’s obnoxious, etc), grow the hell up and say you had a nice time, wish him (or her) luck, and say it’s not a match.
18. Dating adults should own lube.
No, active adults should. Many people date without being intimate right away or even until marriage.
30. When someone asks how you are…
Ehhh I think it’s fine to say (casually), “Not really been my day! How are you?”
37. Don’t feel bad about standing up when the plane lands.
Nope. People have tight connections. People might need to use a bathroom that can accommodate disabilities. I can spend an extra five minutes on a plane so that people who need to can get off quickly.
38. Always wink.
This isn’t etiquette. This isn’t about making other people feel comfortable and welcomed. This is about their own issues.
40. Do not touch the small of my back to move around me at the bar if you’re ugly.
No, do not touch the small of my back, period. Touch my shoulder if you have to.
Whoops, didn’t mean that in reply to 2:01!
Splitting the bill evenly is ridiculous. This idea that it convinced everyone to moderate their food – so what? If I want the cheap pasta because I’m a vegetarian and it’s all I can eat, and only one glass of wine because I have a long run the next day, why do I care if my friend wants a steak and three drinks? Pay for your own meal and stop being weird.
Likewise, if I had to split the bill evenly, I would mix a LOT of places that my friends like to go. Sure I’ll subsist on a crummy side salad if it means hanging with my friends, but I am not going to pay for their porterhouses in the process.
It’s also really privileged to assume that people can afford to split the bill and subsidise their friends’ meals.
Learn to do math and pay for your food.
I absolutely agree. We have one friend group with whom we have regular dinners and we all split the bill. Our food and drinks and incomes are all very similar and it’s easy. Generally, people should pay their own way. I generally eat less expensive food and drink less than the people I have meals with, and I don’t think I should regularly pay at least 2x to be polite. This is also a reason I like coffee dates with friends. Everyone buys their own coffees and then sits at the same table. It’s super easy.
Gosh do I hate any group dinner / birthday dinner because of this. My poor 20’s were a nightmare.
Same. Even when I had an income, I really wanted to save to build a robust financial cushion. I hated figuring out how to split the bill with a bunch of people who were far less price sensitive than I was and were totally up for ordering a bunch of apps for the table.
This as an issue always baffles me – when I was waiting tables 20 years ago, any restaurant with a modern computer system was set up to very easily create a separate check for each seat. This doesn’t take more than a few extra seconds’ effort by the server (and is well-within the range of the server’s job duties). It was, in fact, much easier than splitting a bill evenly. I guess there might still be some very very small restaurants that still do these things by hand or something (I’d be shocked if the apps those are usually using now can’t do this), but that strikes me as very rare – 99% of the time, you can just get separate checks!
I don’t understand why servers always complain about separate checks. It seems easier for them. I think they really want one person to pay a single check and then hit the rest of the group up via Venmo, but no way am I getting involved in that kind of mess. Give me my own check and I will pay with my card and tip you appropriately.
Agreed! I HATE when a restaurant won’t split a bill when I know they have a modern POS system. Last year, we went to a nice restaurant for my in-laws anniversary dinner. It was a group of about 14 and we wanted 3 checks – which I feel is reasonable especially given the bill was going to be around $1000. They adamantly refused and we have not returned. If Olive Garden can split a bill so can they. FWIW, we also noted to the waiter when ordering who would be together and he said nothing until the bill was presented.
I split the bill with my friends but no one objects and we are fairly even contributors. If anyone objects to this they need to speak up at the beginning of the meal to request a separate check. No exceptions.
I’ve had too many instances in my life where someone turned over a $20 when they ordered a $23 entree plus a drink and shared the group appetizer, and they also don’t think they need to kick in for taxes or tip. We’d all be better off if that person just requests their own check, which is much easier for the waitstaff to do if they know it the minute you are seated.
Yes, this is the hill I will die on.
Maybe this varies by area or something, but (with the exception of situations where someone was specifically offering to treat for some reason or dates), it’s been entirely assumed that there would be separate checks and each person/family would handle their own any time I’ve been out with other people. The idea of doing it differently is just strange. Why would you make it more complicated by trying to add division to the mix?
Because restaurants often won’t split a bill 10 ways so if you’re out with a big group of friends you have to divide it up yourself and people default to equal shares (which I hated as a non-drinker who was in grad school or underemployed for most of my 20s).
I have never once run into a restaurant that won’t split a bill. Like I said above, it’s built into the standard software and has been for years. Maybe in some parts of the country this is different? (I can’t imagine why, though.)
Splitting the bill now is much easier than it used to be, the waitstaff just need to know it at the beginning.
I live in the Bay Area in the early 2010s and it was pretty common for restaurants to refuse to split bills into more than 4 or so checks. I’ve never heard of a restaurant refusing to split a bill two or even four ways, but for larger groups it’s definitely a thing for them to refuse, or was as of a decade or ago.
Miami restaurants are notorious for refusing to split checks.
It’s definitely a thing in big US cities for restaurants to refuse to split bills for large groups. I’ve been to many restaurants where it’s even printed on the menu “we will not do separate checks for parties over X people.” I get it, honestly. Even if there’s software to split the check, it still seems like it would take extra waitstaff time to run every card separately, no? And if one card is declined or something like that, instead of just bringing it back to the table, they have to figure out what individual’s card it is. I dunno I’ve never waited tables but splitting a check a bunch of different ways seems like it could get complicated quickly and in busy restaurants they don’t want to do anything that’s going to add to their workload.
How is owning lube an etiquette rule? Or a rule at all?
I’m an old and have never once needed lube or had a partner ask for it. If they did, I’d get some. What a weird thing to put on all adults
You’re clearly not old enough…. ;)
Ha, yeah, tell me you haven’t gone through perimenopause without telling me you haven’t gone through perimenopause.
Also adults have different preferences…..
Yeah, that is basically the point of the comment. This is not a “rule” it is a preference.
I meant even adults who use lube have different preferences for which ones they use.
I really, really dislike the people who stand up for ten minutes after the plane lands. Where do they think they are going in such a hurry? And, even better are the ones who ignore the please from the flight attendants to stay seated unless you have a connecting flight.
I text at any hour and don’t mind if other people text at any hour. Maybe it’s because my friends span multiple time zones, but my phone is set to silent mode from 10 – 6 except for a few select people who can call. I hate when people cancel plans the day of, and wouldn’t do it unless I am a legit emergency. I also use the word “partner” – maybe it’s because I’m a place where a lot of people are unmarried in long term relationship (including straight ones) but partner is a super common term around here.
Partner is commonly used in the UK regardless of gender or even marital status in my experience.
Some of these are bizarre.
11 – When another human is present, don’t talk to your animal in the private voice you use when alone together.
Does this exclude my husband, who uses the exact same voice to the dog?
I never used any special voice to talk to my cat, but if I ever gave the impression that I cared more what my cat thought of me than anyone watching me interact with my cat, that’s just accurate.
This one is weird. My voice doesn’t change much other than tone but I find almost no one, including strangers, speaks to my dog in a regular voice.
It’s supposed to be funny. My husband has actually commented on how our friend talks to her dog in baby talk. It’s a bit much for me too, to be honest, but it’s not like OMG Leslie is so rude!
“Intersting” is one word for it, it’s certainly more polite than the word I would use.
I’ll stick to Emily Post, thanks.
How do I secretly and anonymously send this to one of my friends?
62. After high school, you’re not allowed to be a birthday diva.
You can’t use the day to make unreasonable demands on people. You’re growing up, so grow up.
(ps she never remembers anyone else’s birthday)
Yeah…the birthday divas I know are all self-centered in general.
Yeah, my 30+ friends who demand a “birthday month”… it’s a bit much.
Ugh, I’m 58 and have a friend like this (“birthday month” and half-birthdays, etc.). Unfortunately, we share a birthday so I am unwillingly dragged into the celebration vortex.
Outlier I guess, I know the article was humor but I agreed with most of it. Including the split the check evenly. This was only a problem in my 20s. By the time everyone is working and a grown adult, it’s pretty rare for there to be enough variation to warrant exact accounting. It comes out in the wash.
I fervently agree with this one: “7. While on a date, if you find you’re talking a lot, ask yourself, When was the last time I asked a question? There’s no need to keep a tally or trade queries back and forth like it’s a tennis match, but do at least be aware of how long you’re holding the floor and take care to share it.” The only thing wrong with that rule is the limitation to “while on a date.” This should be the rule in every conversation everyone ever has.