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Civility: Did she judge him too harshly?

A continuation of a three-way communication between the columnist, a young man who wrote to her for advice, and a young woman with whom the young man is – or would like to be – acquainted.

Dear Diana,

I went ahead and sent her an apology note. I was surprised she got back to me so quickly. Her response is below if you’re interested. I guess it’s about the best I could have hoped for under the circumstances. —Blaine

 Dear Blaine,


Thank you for the apology, but I do think it is best that we not see each other again. It is very inappropriate and highly offensive to “size up” a woman the first time you meet her. It didn’t help matters when you compared my body type to that of Kim Kardashian. I’m passionate about being a teacher (have a PhD in education) and like to be appreciated for who I am and what I do, not how well I can fill out a skirt.

You crossed an important boundary, yet seemed completely unaware of your offense — hence the slap in the face. It was quite disappointing too, since we had a nice conversation up to that point. Anyway, I do accept your apology, and while I don’t wish to continue communication with you, I have no lingering hard feelings. Hopefully you can learn from this.


Blaine: It is too bad that she didn’t know that there was a shy gentleman under that remark. She missed out. —Diana


 Diana: That’s very kind :) Not to beat this to death, but I think you touched on something important in your previous reply in that she may have had lots of bad experiences with men who looked at her primarily in a sexual/physical way and just reached an extreme frustration level, thinking she had met an honorable, decent guy in me before things went south. I do feel badly about offending such a beautiful and classy woman who is quite accomplished as well. My friends always tell me that I’m too shy and reserved around women and need to be more bold and flirtatious. I guess there is a fine line between flirtatious and offensive. —Blaine

Diana: Just when I thought I was ready to move on, live and learn, etc., I get the note from her, below. Completely caught me by surprise and I’m not sure what made her change her mind. In any case, I’m looking forward to the coffee date. —Blaine


Hello again, Blaine: I’ve been thinking things over. Having met more than a few womanizers over the years, perhaps I judged you too harshly and you just had a “foot-in-the-mouth” moment. The way you’ve handled things in the aftermath leads me to believe you might be an honorable guy. You took the slap like a gentleman by not retaliating verbally or physically, and you were courteous enough to leave the party shortly thereafter. Also, your apology seemed very sweet and sincere. If you’re interested, we can meet for coffee and make a fresh start. It’s a new year and everyone deserves a second chance.

— Briar

This dialogue will continue next week.

DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP, etiquette and civility specialist/image stylist, can be reached at (626) 584-9761 or via e-mail:, or