Relationship Argument Etiquette | Alyssa J Freitas: Relationship Argument Etiquette

January 10, 2018

Relationship Argument Etiquette

When I cover etiquette topics, I generally use hypothetical situations and talk about principles relating to one specific area. Today's post is quite different; I received an email from a reader asking for advice on how to handle an etiquette quandary and I thought it would be great to share my response on the blog so others can benefit too! Thank you to this reader for giving me permission to share her story.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Arguments can be a major challenge in any relationship; here's how I answered a reader question for the etiquette in her situation

Dear Alyssa, 

I know this is a little off the beaten path but it's in the realm of etiquette and manners and I thought you might have some good insight on this situation. My 17 year old son has been dating a lovely young lady for the past few months. Her birthday was last week and he completely forgot about it. When she told him about it, he responded with something like “Oops, I’m sorry I forgot. Let’s do something next weekend since I have plans with the guys this weekend.” I know, cringeworthy to say the least! 

And if that wasn’t bad enough, there was strike number two when he trivialized her birthday by saying “what's the big deal, it's not like it’s your 21st" and then strike three when he told her she was just being silly and taking a "hissy fit". After a heated exchange, she exclaimed “you just don’t get it!” and then landed a stinging slap across his cheek and stormed off. Needless to say, he has much to learn about the opposite sex, and I teased him about getting his face slapped by a few more ladies until he starts behaving like a proper gentleman 😉

To his credit, he took it like a man and seems less concerned about his wounded pride and more concerned about the young woman's feelings. I think this could be a teachable moment for him, and I also think he can repair his relationship with his girlfriend if he goes about it the right way. Just wondered if you had any nuggets of wisdom to offer.


Dear Reader,

Thank you for reaching out to me! That's quite the situation your son finds himself in. Thankfully since he recognizes this young lady's hurt feelings are more important right now than his pride, we can start by focusing on her.

First and foremost, a sincere apology is in order. This apology could be verbal or through a letter; absolutely not by text message and preferably not over the phone. I am a fan of writing out a card so you can ensure that you say everything you want to and that it will come out in a clear way. He should validate her disappointment and tell her that the last thing he would want to do is make her think he doesn't care. He made a mistake and is sorry and asks for her forgiveness.

Next, a thoughtful gift will help express his regret over his actions and show that he is attentive and values her. Perhaps he could get a small collection of gifts all in her favorite color or get her a few books by her favorite author. A themed gift is not difficult, but conveys that you put thought and time into personalizing your gesture. It need not cost a lot of money or be extravagant, rather, he should aim to do something he knows she likes and appreciates. The goal is to make her feel special and show that he cares for her.

Lastly, delivering the apology and gift, along with a nice meal or other date (such as a movie or bowling or whatever they enjoy doing together) will demonstrate to her that she is special to him and he is sorry for trivializing something important to her.

I would point out to your son that perhaps he should reevaluate this relationship. While I completely understand the young lady's frustration and disappointment, a slap is not an acceptable way to express how you're feeling. No matter what, if your son and this young lady decide to continue their relationship, they must discuss how they will communicate when they are unhappy moving forward. Verbal communication and carefully listening to one another is essential for a lasting and healthy relationship.

What advice would you give this reader? I'd love to hear your take on it!


-AJF
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P.S. I'm considering creating a form for readers to ask etiquette questions that I can respond to here on the blog. Would love to know what you think of that; please let me know in the comments below.

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