As the spring social season comes to life, we all begin to face tricky etiquette situations. Our trusty Ms. Modern Manners Sharon Schweitzer, JD, chimes in with advice for all seasons.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

I think texting is overrated. I recently met someone who could be a romantic interest, but I don’t want to have a texting friendship. I prefer to have a face-to-face conversation. How should I proceed since I don’t want to alienate this potential suitor?

Looking For Love


Dear Love Bird,

Shutting down potential suitors before getting to know them will only set the tone for future relationships. If you don’t like to text or have a difficult time texting because of a career or other activity, let them know early on and be clear about it. This way, you’re setting your standards without turning down an opportunity to get to know them further. If the other person isn’t willing to compromise, then it is best to move on to avoid disagreements.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

Is there a protocol on pregnancy etiquette? I’m just now showing and it seems people are compelled to touch my tummy. How do I avoid this without seeming rude?

Proud & Pregnant


Dear Mother-To-Be,

When in the presence of others, gently clasp your hands over your stomach as a barrier to gently stop their touch, or step back from their reach. Politely tell them that you understand their excitement, but would prefer that they refrain from touching your stomach. If they ask, thank them for asking beforehand and tell them that you rather they not touch.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

What’s the policy on social media posting of a private event? Should the host be asked or shall I ask for forgiveness after the fabulous photos have gone live?

Social Media Lover


Dear Avid Media User,

Just as Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian’s wedding was respected as a private event, so should other private events be honored. However, not everyone can get their hands on phone-free tech like Yondr. Be aware that not everyone will be invited, so it’s best to use your discretion to avoid hurt feelings. At an invitation-only event, avoid stealing the limelight from bride and groom. Unless you have their permission, simply don’t post. As Emily Post’s granddaughter Lizzie Post said in an interview, people are invited as guests, not as photographers. 

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

My husband and I entertain a great deal. For dinner parties would it be appropriate to pass a bowl around for everyone to drop their cell phones so that we’re an electronic-free table? I think we could enjoy conversation more without being tethered to communication devices? It sure seems like the 10,000 generations before us were okay without them at a party.

Unplugged Party Planner


Dear Hopeful Hostess,

Have you exhausted all other options including: 1) Allowing a brief interval before dinner for texting and Instagramming photos? 2) Allowing periodic communal checking of messages? 3) Pushing back with a sense of humor? For example, texting a photo of them staring at their phone? 4) Inquiring about their urgency? Maybe they have a need. 5) As a last resort, collect the phones in a bowl. While cell phones can be a huge distraction, your guests may feel a bit pressured if a bowl is passed around for collection. Although the main goal is to have an electronic-free dinner to encourage conversations, guests may be offended. Instead, place the bowl on an entrance table so guests don’t feel obligated and can place their phones by choice. Additionally, include an “Electronic-Free” invitation theme so guests have advance notice.