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You Needn't Dance With One Who Brought You

By Thelma Domenici
For the Journal
          Dear Thelma: Please let me know if I am socially outdated. My friend and I attend many social dinner-dance functions. My date is quite social and everyone pretty much gets an earful during our dinners. I am outgoing, but do not share everything.
        On three different occasions, a woman we know casually and two we barely met mentioned that their husbands don't like to dance. Then they stood up, grabbed my date by the arms and dragged him out to the dance floor. I find this tacky and it humiliates me.
        I have mentioned how his accommodating strange women's dancing needs makes me feel and he said he did nothing wrong. Since these women's husbands don't seem to mind their wives' neediness, I am feeling like I'm the odd one to be embarrassed.
        What is the right thing to do without making a scene? Is my date supposed to just refuse, or am I supposed to ask the husbands to dance with their wives, or should I just sit there with a stiff, fake grin on my face? It just ruins the romance of a nice evening. Is this something women do these days, and I am not up to date?
        A: It sounds like everyone likes your date, probably for the same reasons you do. He's a good conversationalist, a good dancer and pleasant to be around. He's fun, and they see that.
        At a social dinner-dance such as you describe, people do gather to mingle and have fun as a group. You may need to update your attitude toward those types of functions. You can dance with someone you didn't arrive with, and women can ask men to dance. While you might find yourself annoyed with your date's popularity, you needn't feel humiliated and embarrassed. These women are not asking him to dance to slight you, and he isn't accepting because he'd rather not be with you.
        I would encourage you to have a conversation with this man away from the situation to let him know how you feel. Do not exaggerate the intent of the evening's activities or say things that only will make him feel bad. Take the opportunity to talk together and come up with a solution that ensures everyone will have a good time.
        You may discover that you'd like to dance more frequently together so he isn't often free for others. Or you may find that you don't like to dance as much as he does and that having additional opportunities to dance is something you want him to have the chance to enjoy. When he is dancing with someone else, don't sit with a stiff grin; get up and mingle.
        If it remains a problem even after you discuss it, you might decide to avoid the crowd when you're looking for a romantic evening. But if you do choose a "social dinner-dance," that is what you're going to get.
        Dear Thelma: I have a friend at work who would get along great with a woman I know well. I'd love for them to meet, but I worry they might feel weird about being "set up." What's the best way to initiate that relationship?
        A: To invite a group of friends to lunch at this time of year to celebrate Valentine's Day would be a natural way to introduce the two of them. It might be just the three of you or a larger group if you prefer. There's more comfort and less stress in a causal meeting of friends than a blind date or even a double date. Then let the relationship progress from there.
        Gentle guidance and good manners never go out of style.
        Have a question about etiquette? You can ask it at www.askthelma.com. Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.

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