Chatting about etiquette in 2017 seems a quaintly old-fashioned concept, like courtship, landline telephones and Myspace. However, in an age when even the President of the United States grabs pussy without permission, it’s more important than ever.
With that indelible image in mind, this is a guide to manners for the modern man. Because lack of them maketh him nothing.
On Matters Of Dating
1. Pay on the first date, unless your date insists otherwise (and forcefully). Yes, it’s old-fashioned, but it has nothing to do with gender roles. If you requested the pleasure of their company, then you should pay. Tell them they can pay next time. Itemising the bill is code for ‘I’d like to remain single for the rest of my life’.
2. Take the initiative in organising the first date. Few things are less sexy than asking: “So, what do you fancy doing?”
3. Even if you can see instantly that a blind date is a blind alley, stick around for a couple of drinks at least. It won’t kill you, and you’ll spare them unnecessary humiliation. You never know, they might be feeling the same.
4. Message the day after a date, if not sooner. Even a disastrous one.
5. Use a recent, representative profile photo on dating apps.
6. Message first and say something specific pertaining to their profile. Not: “Nice rack”.
7. Treat service staff respectfully. Being rude to waiters and waitresses, even bad ones, is a dead giveaway that you are a despicable person. And your date will notice.
8. Offer your date the seat with the best view.
9. Put your phone away.
10. Don’t leave more than a day between messages if you want the correspondence to continue.
11. Don’t send dick pics. Unless you’re applying for Embarrassing Bodies.
12. Compliment people on their appearance or outfit whenever merited. Non-sexually.
13. Always break up in person.
On Matters Of Work
14. Don’t follow up on unanswered emails and texts within 24 hours. If it’s really urgent, call them.
15. Don’t passive-aggressively CC somebody’s superior into an email chain. It’s the ultimate douche move (aside from BCCing). Even if you achieve your desired result, they will remember, and they will continue to make your life difficult in whatever way they can.
16. Don’t call people unless it’s really, genuinely urgent. Phoning someone is like walking into their office unannounced, putting your feet up on their desk and saying: “So, I just wanted to talk to you about…” Whatever they’re in the middle of, you just interrupted it.
17. Return phone calls. If you don’t want to speak to them, email. Or ring back when you know they can’t answer.
18. Don’t call people “mate”. I’m not your mate, pal.
19. Stand up when being introduced or when introducing yourself.
On Matters Of Manners
20. If the phone rings when you’re with somebody and you must answer it, finish the call as quickly as politely possible.
21. Offer your seat on public transport to women (pregnant or otherwise), small children, the elderly and anybody with a walking stick or crutches. Better yet, don’t take one in the first place. As a reasonably young, physically able man with two working legs, content yourself with the knowledge that you are lucky enough not to need one.
22. If you’re sitting in a priority seat, what’s wrong with you? If the answer is ‘nothing’, then get your ass up pronto. Staring at your newspaper or phone screen is not a valid excuse.
23. Hold the door open for women, men, children and anybody else just behind you who would be inconvenienced and possibly injured otherwise. But don’t hold it for them so far ahead that they feel pressured to walk faster. That’s not helpful, it’s awkward.
24. Send a handwritten thank-you note for anything major, and minor if you can. It never fails to look classy AF.
25. Don’t send a thank-you note for a thank-you note. Otherwise where will the madness end?
26. Be punctual. It can seem like a miracle that anybody ever managed to meet up before the advent of modern technology. You know how they did it? By being where they said they’d be, when they said they were going to be there. Being late is still the height of rudeness, even if you text to say you’re running five minutes behind. Your time is not more important than anybody else’s. If that doesn’t motivate you, buy yourself a decent watch.
27. Wait for a break in play before getting up, or sitting down if you’re late. Also, why are you late?
28. Don’t look at your phone in the cinema. You may as well just light a distress flare.
29. Reply to invitations swiftly, even if to refuse them. Otherwise they’ll stop coming.
30. Don’t complain.
31. Use the toilet brush. What are you, an animal?
32. Don’t brag, humbly or otherwise.
33. Don’t leave immediately, or in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.
On Matters In General
34. Pay your way. You might think that you got away without chipping in for a round of drinks or your fair share of dinner. Newsflash: while nobody said anything, everybody noticed, and everybody hates you for it.
35. Use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. It’s surprisingly attractive.
36. If someone tells you some good news – a new job, the birth of their child – don’t steal their thunder by publicly congratulating them on social media before they’ve posted it themselves. They might not want to announce it yet, or in that way. And whatever you do, don’t post the picture of their baby that they sent you. At least not without asking.
37. Bring something for the host. No, Kanye, your presence is not enough of a present.
38. Ask questions and listen to the answers instead of just waiting for your turn to speak. Being interested is the best way to be interesting.
39. Good hygiene. That is all.
40. Don’t broadcast videos or music in public. When did this become acceptable? Answer: never.
41. Closely related to #34, don’t haggle over a couple of quid here and there.
42. You know that mate of yours who always pays up front for the five-a-side pitch rental or the stag do accommodation? Reimburse him promptly.
43. Don’t one-up people in conversation.
44. Be patient towards people with small children or babies. No, you shouldn’t have to suffer for their life choices or cavalier attitude towards contraception. But one day that may be you, and you will be grateful for the understanding.
45. If you’re walking somewhere and you need to use your phone, pull over and stop. Check behind you and indicate first.
46. Replenish what you use. Especially toilet paper.
47. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5-0 down after 89 minutes and your opponent is showboating like it’s a Barcelona training session, or 1-0 down after five minutes and they’re just passing it around the back. Never, ever quit a game of Fifa. This is an absolutely inviolable rule.
48. Don’t re-enact the chariot scene in Ben-Hur with your wheelie case and other people’s shins.
49. Use your indoor and outdoor voices where appropriate.
50. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it on social media.
51. Don’t lose your temper, publicly or privately. (See above.) It’s not impressive. It doesn’t make you appear more dominant, or assertive, or like you have more testosterone. You just look like you can’t cope.
On Matters Of Style
52. Take your hat off indoors. Headgear is acceptable in public buildings (e.g. train stations, airports) and public areas of buildings (e.g. corridors, lifts). Never in the gym. If you’re cold, you’re not trying hard enough.
53. ‘Dress code optional’ doesn’t mean the dress code is optional. The option is in selecting whether to respect your host’s wishes or be a tool and wear what you like. Choose wisely.
54. Giving unsolicited style advice is the same as saying: “I don’t like what you’re wearing.”
55. Like your friend’s new jacket? Great, tell them. A compliment can make someone’s day. However, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Ask before ripping them off and buying them same one.
56. Take off your sunglasses indoors and at night. No exceptions.
57. ‘Don’t wear brown in town’ is bull these days, but many foreign lands do have rules that they expect you to abide by. Don’t be an idiot abroad, swot up and show respect for your host country.
58. Want everyone to know you’ve been to the gym? Get there by achieving noticeable results, not by leaving your running shoes or sweat-soaked gym kit under your desk to stink out the office.
59. Female guests don’t need reminding not to wear white to a wedding. However, you should also be mindful not to upstage the groom by making too much of a ‘statement’ with your outfit. Oh, and don’t wear a white suit.
60. Suit getting a bit hot? You should have chosen a more suitable fabric. Nothing says: “I don’t care about your event” like taking your jacket off and slinging it on the back of the chair shortly after arriving.
61. A boutonniere, or ‘buttonhole’, is for the official wedding party. As nice an addition as it makes to your suit, don’t arrive with your own.
62. Take the label off your cigar.
On Matters Of The Gym
63. Take all the plates off the bar. And put them back.
64. There’s an old saying about patience: back up off the equipment, you’ll know when they’re done using it. Never pressure someone else into hurrying up because it suits you.
65. People, both male and female, deserve to use the gym as a safe area for self-improvement. Safe, as in from terrible chat-up attempts. Don’t.
66. Always have the right kind of self-awareness. As in, not ‘look how good I look’, but ‘someone might want to use this mirror to check their form’.
67. Even if you’re doing a triset triceps finisher, don’t take multiple sets of dumbbells. If they’re on the floor for more than a minute, then you’re not “using” them.
68. Don’t curl in the squat rack.
69. Not mocking others extends to every area of life, but particularly in the gym when there is a wide range of skills and confidence levels.
70. Wipe the bench down when you’re finished.