The History (and Etiquette) of Dating

For a 21st-century young man in the industrialized world, dating is as much a part of life as is indoor plumbing. And like indoor plumbing, perhaps unbeknownst to the modern-day gentleman, the concept of dating is a relatively recent invention.

By the late 17th and most of the 18th centuries, the Age of Reasoning (ca. 1670 – 1790), led primarily by French intellectuals and quickly embraced across all of Europe, championed the notion that reason, rather than dogma or blind compliance with tradition, should govern behavior and bring about reform.  Some of society’s most venerated customs were challenged, the tradition of arranged marriages being one. Thus, courting, the forefather of dating, was born.  Perhaps inspired by the medieval-era literature of 500 years earlier, which included themes of courtly love and chivalrous comportment, 18th-century courtship involved a young man who, having captured the fancy of a young lady of his social class, would be invited to her home for a social visit supervised by her parents and observed by her siblings.  If the interest proved mutual, additional invitations would be extended to the young man, culminating, hopefully, in his asking the young lady’s parents for her hand in marriage. Because courting occurred primarily in the home of the female, it was a “gyno-centric” ritual.

By the late 1700s, the Industrial Revolution was underway.  And nation by nation, led by the British, the agrarian, farm-dwelling world became increasingly urban as agro-laborers moved into the cities of Europe and America seeking more lucrative employment opportunities in mills and factories. To accommodate the great urban migration, modest housing was constructed. The typical tenement dweller, having left his family and bucolic environment to make his way in the world, lived in a simple flat that was not conducive to impressive entertaining. So the newfound city dwellers started inviting their romantic interests to public outings:   Concerts and picnics in public parks, dances, restaurants, and the theater, for example.  Thus, dating was born. Unlike courting, however, which was supervised and on the female’s turf, dating was unsupervised and controlled by men since they paid the expenses associated with public outings. By the first decades of the 1900s, with the coming of the automobile and the additional private mobility it afforded, dating became even more established as a way of life.  And by the 1920s, with the sexual revolution which resulted from unsupervised urban living, arranged marriages and courting had become things of the past in most of the industrialized world. Dating was now the custom by which people sought and found suitable mates. By the 1930s and ‘40s, with the rapidly increasing popularity of the cinema, partly because of its relatively modest entrance fees, dating expanded to accommodate people in their teenage years. And as young women increasingly left their homes in pursuit of university educations, dating became even more widespread. By the 1940s, most college women, without any help from their parents, would, upon arriving on campus, find themselves an “S.P.” (“special person”) while in pursuit of a B.A. and an M-r-s.  With the 1970s came the concept of the “blind date,” where two people, “site-unseen,” would be introduced by a mutual, unofficial, matchmaker-friend with the hopes that the newly introduced would take a liking to each other and venture off into their own dating relationship. And by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, “speed dating,”  in response to the ultra-efficient culture spawned by the age of technology, had become a part of the social construct:  Professional dating agencies, based on personality-profile data, would select 10 or 20 “personality matches” or “compatibles” for presentation to a “client” in one “sitting” during a rapid-fire, single-elimination-style series of five-minute-long “interview-dates” where the client could quickly and efficiently assess all the “potential partners” in less time than would normally be required for one traditional date, thereby saving considerable time and money while simultaneously eliminating the need for “morning-after” phone calls.

Dating—A Means to an End

While the goal of courting was decidedly marriage, dating has always been more open-ended. And almost from its inception, it was bifurcated into casual dating and serious dating. Casual dating assumes many forms, from the “hook-up,” which generally begins with a ritualized, prelude-type outing—whether to a movie, a local bar for a drink, or a dinner, for example—and ends with a tacit or outright request for sex, to dating where two people simply enjoy each other’s company in public. Serious dating, sometimes referred to as “going steady,” is more akin to courting. After compatibility has been established (oftentimes as a result of casual dating), serious daters spend time together with the idea that the relationship might evolve into marriage, remain as-is indefinitely, or exist for as long as both parties consider the relationship mutually satisfying.

But whether casual “hook-up” or a much more serious dating relationship, what is critical is that a gentleman—especially when dating a lady in her late 20s or in her 30s, for whom marriage may be a priority—be immediately open and truthful about his intentions and desires so as not to mislead or be misinterpreted.

 

The Ten Stages of Life

The Personal Evolution

During the first decade of life, children want, more than anything else, to feel loved, safe, and protected by their families; and when those needs have been met or sufficiently satisfied, children want freedom to play. Friendships, generally entered into with little reservation, are primarily in situ, with not much interaction amongst the young friends continuing beyond the venue that brings them together. Sugar is their equivalent of the sex (and sometimes, drugs) they will so crave in their subsequent decades.

During the teenage, pubescent years of the second decade of life, children begin seeking emotional independence from their families, opting instead for acceptance, emotional support, alliance, approval, and recognition from their peers. There is very little selection process in their choice of friends; practically anyone within their age range is a potential companion. There is a preoccupation with thoughts of sex. Thoughts of the future—goals, higher education, careers, status, etc.—begin to emerge. Opinions are frequently voiced as their newfound sense of independence seeks expression.

In their late teenage years and the first years of their third decade—in their early 20s—young people get the urge to redefine themselves, oftentimes moving away, sometimes ostensibly for college or for work, in order to shed one identity and develop another.  Many of the friendships of the second decade that are incompatible with the new self that emerges fade into childhood memories, and the process of engaging new friendships becomes significantly more efficient and discriminating: Only friendships that complement the new self are nurtured. As the young adult in his 20s makes his way in the world, his major support network—emotionally, socially, and sometimes financially—is his cadre of close friends.  Some of the friendships forged during this period endure a lifetime. The first profound experiences of sexual and emotional intimacy typically occur in this decade, oftentimes with lifelong effects. The 20s is arguably the most liberating, creative decade of a person’s life:  He is emancipated from his parents and their expectations; he is surrounded and supported by his emancipated contemporaries and their oftentimes-liberal outlooks on life as he takes his first steps into life as a young adult; and he has not yet committed himself to starting his own family. A person in his 20s is as inclined towards taking risks as he will ever be in life. People in their 20s regard themselves as special and endeavor to change the world. Career choices are generally exploratory and eliminatory

People in their 30s begin settling into their work-choices, the vocation-exploration phase of the previous decade having created and eliminated certain opportunities. Emotionally and socially, people become more nuclear as their circle of close friendships, which was almost all-encompassing during their 20s, is drastically reshaped as friends move away for work-opportunities and others marry or commit themselves emotionally and intimately to partners. Many people stop believing that they are special and abandon their dreams of changing the world or achieving great things. Much time and energy are spent on building family and intimacy. People become more introspective and Existential, realizing that their lives will be primarily determined by their decisions.

People in their 40s begin resigning themselves to the people they have become; they begin coming to terms with themselves—good, bad, or otherwise. The opportunities to form new, profound friendships are significantly diminished, with most new relationships being the result of professional interaction. For “forty-somethings,” anyone invited to enter their lives must take them as they come or leave them as they are. New friends must meet certain tried-and-tested criteria. People become more emotionally efficient, having learned over the years how to deal with triumphs and failures, losses and gains.

People in their 50s, recognizing that they have entered the second half of their physical existence, begin a process of self-assessment, focusing on whatever they determine to be the most important things in life. Much time is spent pondering legacy.

Many people die in their 70s, so people in their 60s begin concerning themselves with health and longevity. Eating healthily, minimizing stress, and focusing on the well-being of family and community become exceedingly important. Sexagenarians begin “giving back” to the societies and institutions that nurtured them. And as their friends begin dying of natural causes, they become very mindful of their own vulnerability to time. People in their 60s begin a process of mending salvageable relationships and correcting wrongs. Many of them return to religion; rebuild relationships with their siblings as their offspring begin focusing on their own lives; and rekindle old friendships. People in their 60s conscientiously begin the spiritual journey.

People in their 70s, because death of their contemporaries seems to surround them, begin readying themselves for death—as untimely as it may be. Society and its views become less significant. Like children in their “terrible twos,” septuagenarians begin reasserting themselves as free individuals, unrestricted by expectations, rules, and other people’s opinions. Their physical, mental, and spiritual selves are as much in equilibrium as they will ever be in Earthly existence.

People who live into their 80s realize that they have been specially blessed with longevity. But they also realize that each day is a gift.  For every day of physical exertion, two days of recuperation are now required. So octogenarians become more selective in their social outings and activities. Rest and peace of mind are prized above all. Days are structured, with particular activities being scheduled for particular periods in the day. Long conversations are cherished. Intimate knowledge of family history, as well as accounts of life’s experiences, is shared with loved ones.

Though there are some examples of professionally and socially active nonagenarians and centenarians, for most of the few people who live into their 90s and beyond, life is on “automatic pilot.” The daily routines established during their 80s are adhered to, but simplified. Appetite is diminished. Interest in worldly things wanes. Few things surprise the elderly, for they have seen much. Their major regrets are the things they had the opportunity to do but did not do. As with children, who have just come from the spirit world, the elderly, en route back to the spirit world, become acutely aware of the spiritual realm.  Thus, they sit and ready themselves for the moment of physical death.

 

Wayne James’ Manly Manners Receives Rave Reviews from Publishing Industry’s Foremost Critics!

Manly Manners:  Lifestyle & Modern Etiquette for the Young Man of the 21st Century by fashion designer and former U.S. Virgin Islands senator Wayne James is garnering stellar reviews from the publishing industry’s most discerning critics.  Besides offering comprehensive instruction on etiquette-book standards such as table manners, men’s hygiene and wardrobing, and thank-you letters, the 840-page treatise (volume one of a trilogy) also provides sound advice on subjects as varied and unexpected as how to delicately suggest an enema to a sex-partner prior to engaging in anal sex, what to expect when attending a Japanese funeral or a Persian wedding, and how to conduct oneself when granted an Audience with the pope or visiting a gay sauna (with or without rentboys). And the author’s effortlessly elegant, witty writing-style is generating critical acclaim: “Sophisticated, amusing and entertaining” (BlueInk Review); “Emily Post…would likely tremble in her petticoat at some of the subjects James takes on” (Foreword Clarion); and “…the author provides a polymathic description of the world for people who wish to experience it to the fullest in a gentlemanly fashion” (Kirkus Reviews) are just a few of the compliments that have been paid to date.

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“My aim was to write a book that speaks to the times,” James said.  “As such, topics once regarded as taboo or unsuitable for etiquette books are discussed openly and unapologetically.  How could I, in good conscience, write a book on 21st-century men’s manners and not give guidance on bullying, same-sex marriage, surviving police detention and incarceration, and international customs and faux pas?  The world has changed, and so must books on manners.”

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Author Wayne James on hilltop overlooking Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The book’s foreword is written by Baron Peter von Troil of Finland and Sweden, whose maternal family line has been connected to the author’s family since the 1870s—for six generations.  And carefully placed throughout the book are illustrations, lists, and charts, all of which converge to make Manly Manners user-friendly and engaging even to young adult readers. An extensive index facilitates the navigation of the volume, and the book’s tone is decidedly egalitarian and inclusive.  “Any young man can cultivate himself into a gentleman,” James said. “Manly Manners provides a comprehensive roadmap.”

Published by the iUniverse Division of Penguin Random House and distributed by Ingram Books, Manly Manners:  Lifestyle & Modern Etiquette for the Young Man of the 21st Century (ISBN:   978-1-4917-9427-2) is available online at  www.Amazon.com , www.BarnesandNoble.com , and www.iUniverse.com and in bookstores worldwide in hardcover, paperback, and e-Book formats.

 

 

Manly Manners by Wayne James Receives a Laudatory Review from Kirkus

 

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Kirkus Review

…James’ encyclopedic knowledge of many topics, his ornately mannered prose, and even his winking tone of self-aggrandizement (each chapter has an epigraph attributed to James himself) are all effective contributions.

 

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Debut author James offers young men advice on how to comport themselves in this self-help guide.

For fashion designer and former U.S. Virgin Islands senator James, proper behavior and presentation are the signifiers of a true gentleman. This book, modeled after classic etiquette guides, such as William O. Stevens’s The Correct Thing (1938) and Amy Vanderbilt’s New Complete Book of Etiquette (1963), seeks to provide up-to-date instruction for contemporary men while also attempting to “chart new territory, in some instances addressing topics that would have been regarded as taboo by previous generations.” In chapter after detailed chapter, James offers comprehensive insight into the etiquette surrounding hygiene, sex, table manners, bathrooms, conversation, dating, entertaining, dressing, going out in public, traveling, and even planning a wedding. The author covers everything from the correct order for guests to enter a formal dining room, to how to fashion an improvised bidet, to what a gentleman should do if he finds himself sexually aroused during a therapeutic massage. With many accompanying diagrams and lists—including the Wayne James Continuum of Human Sexuality, the Seven Elements of Internal Beauty, and dossiers on various cultures around the globe—the author provides a polymathic description of the world for people who wish to experience it to the fullest in a gentlemanly fashion. That said, the book is more than 800 pages long, including the index, and characterized by an unrelenting tendency to catalog things. The chapter on planning a wedding, for example, could be a book by itself, with a 44-page section dedicated solely to properly addressing invitations. Even the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book take up 16 pages. (What’s more, this is only the first book in a planned trilogy.) Even so, James’ encyclopedic knowledge of many topics, his ornately mannered prose, and even his winking tone of self-aggrandizement (each chapter has an epigraph attributed to James himself) are all effective contributions. Etiquette is ultimately about appreciating the rich tapestry of human experience, and James enthusiastically delights in its minutiae.

A comprehensive and idiosyncratic guide to male etiquette in the modern world.

 

 

Midlife Crisis–How to Deal with it

The term “midlife crisis” was coined in the mid-1960s to describe a social phenomenon that occurs primarily in Western and Western-dominated cultures where some people in their “middle years,” usually between the ages of 40 and 55, experience a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval as a result of realizing that their youthful years are fading and that old age is imminent. The crisis can be precipitated by unemployment, underemployment, career dissatisfaction, other causes of self-doubt, or even extreme grief, such as the death of a loved one.  Regarded today by some scholars as a socio-cultural construct and not a cross-cultural human phenomenon, since it is markedly more prevalent in societies that venerate youthfulness and denigrate aging, midlife crisis should not be treated as an unavoidable fact of life—even in the cultures where it tends to be more commonly experienced.  The trick is to anticipate it, prepare for it, and avoid it.

 

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Adaptability

A 21st-century gentleman must be prepared to make several work-changes during the course of his work-life, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.  And to a large degree, his response to those changes, whether positive or negative, will depend on his overall attitude towards change. On one end of the personality spectrum are the people who tend to resist change, and on the other end are those who welcome it, always happy to “go with the flow.” Most people are somewhere between both extremes.

One of the best safety nets in times of work-upheaval is a good education:  It objectively establishes qualification; it imbues confidence; and it demonstrates an aptitude for learning, all of which are key components of adaptability. Honed skills and talent also prove invaluable in times of change, for they provide viable work-alternatives or work-supplements. And a going concern—such as an ancillary project or an on-the-side-business—can oftentimes quickly evolve into a thriving entity when nurtured.  But perhaps the greatest facilitator of change is faith—the ability to graciously accept that the closing of one door signals the opening of another.

 

Establishing Life-Priorities

But sudden change can also be, and oftentimes is, disconcerting. And as a gentleman struggles to regain his equilibrium in the midst or aftermath of upheaval, it would be wise for him to refer to his life priorities, which will provide him with some sense of direction in his time of uncertainty. The best way to identify life priorities is to state them in writing, revisiting, reassessing, and readjusting them if necessary, at the beginning of each decade of life. A young man should identify the 20 most important things in his life, ranking them in order of importance from most important to least important. Then at the beginning of each decade of life thereafter, for example at age 20, then 30, then 40, etc., he should consider carefully whether he is living his life in such a manner so as to realize his priorities based on their order of importance in his life. If after careful analysis a gentleman determines that his pattern of life is inconsistent with his stated priorities, he must make the necessary adjustments to his life. Likewise, a man experiencing midlife crisis should use his stated priorities as a guidepost as he restructures the remainder of his life. A gentleman should fearlessly pursue his priorities, for in their pursuit he will create his own happiness. And he should know that at the end of life, when it is all said and done, he is more likely to regret the things he did not do than the thing he did.

 

 Retirement Careers

Though popularized in the 1940s after World War II, a review of the historical record indicates that pension plans have existed since the 1600s, with retirement provisions for the widows of clergy, for teachers, and for naval officers being amongst the earliest. And over the past 400 years, pension plans have undergone many evolutions, from being unregulated private entities to agency-regulated government retirement schemes.  But as countries experience decreases in birthrate and advances in people-substituting technology, both of which impact the number of people entering the workforce, while simultaneously experiencing a disproportionately large aging population, pension plans in most countries are challenged and are on the verge of collapse absent drastic reforms. It would therefore be most unwise for the typical 21st-century gentleman to assume that he will be able to retire comfortably on his pension. The more prudent approach would be to view a pension, to the extent that there is one, as a supplement to retirement income. As such, a gentleman should find ways to transform the things that bring him pleasure into things that bring him pleasure and income. And today, with the world having been made smaller and more accessible on account of technology and the internet, a gentleman can relax in his retirement home on St. John in the American Virgin Islands, Cruzan Rum-and-Coke in one hand, while conducting business all over the world with the other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wayne James’ Manly Manners Receives Coveted “Starred Review” from BlueInk Book Reviews

BlueInk Reviews

To reflect the changing mores of young men in 21st century society, Wayne James has written a refined, yet topically edgy etiquette book covering not just table settings and wardrobe essentials but once-taboo sexually charged topics.

James, a Virgin Islands native, notes that he was “long groomed in the intricacies of polite society” from an early age. He attended Georgetown law school and, soon after, became a prominent New York fashion designer of upscale women’s clothing. In 2008, he was elected senator of the Virgin Islands.
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Written in a sophisticated, yet conversational voice, much of the book (first of a trilogy) offers engaging information covering everything from table manners and wedding planning to building a gentleman’s wardrobe, with asides on the history of ties and skivvies. Other subjects range widely, from having an audience with the Pope to avoiding multicultural faux pas to proper etiquette when detained by the police and incarcerated. (It should be noted that James has personal experience, having been indicted in 2015 for allegedly embezzling funds and committing wire fraud while serving in the legislature. In the book’s Acknowledgements section he thanks his “fellow inmates” for their friendship.)

Most eye-opening, perhaps, is James’ willingness to address in frank detail sex-related subjects, such as proper hygiene for the genitals (gently wash the glans and inside of the foreskin with a mild soap and water) before inviting fellatio and considering a cleansing enema before engaging in anal sex. He also clarifies etiquette in gay bathhouse cubicles, where one can participate in anonymous, noncommittal sex. A cubicle’s door position is key, James explains. While a closed door means “do not disturb,” a wide-open door means  “Voyeurs welcome (to observe from the threshold.) And the more, the merrier!”

The book is highly informative and enhanced with detailed diagrams of place settings and the like. While the index offers quick reference, the table of contents is too spare, excluding the complexity of topics—but that’s a quibble.

The book’s explicitness regarding behind-closed-doors behaviors clearly marks this as a read most geared to open-minded young men. They will find a wealth of solid advice that is variously sophisticated, amusing and entertaining.

BlueInk Reviews

 

Wayne James’ Manly Manners Receives Five-Star Review from Foreword Clarion

Foreword Clarion Review–5 Stars

This exhaustive guide brings back the gentleman’s code for a generation in need of a refresher.

Manly Manners, by notable designer, lawyer, and bon vivant Wayne James, is a refreshing reminder that manners can be sexy and exciting, and are mandatory for a man who hopes to move up in the world. Instead of belaboring old points such as which fork to use or whether to hold the door, James focuses on what manners are for: not only to make things fair, but to make good things even better.

 

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Emily Post, considered the defining voice of modern etiquette, would likely tremble in her petticoat at some of the subjects James takes on. For example, “If a man is about to actively engage in anal sex—a subject that would never have been discussed in a book of etiquette of the last century—is it impolite for him to offer his sex-partner a disposable-bottle enema?” James also covers wedding planning, entertaining at home, job interview etiquette, and wardrobe essentials. At more than eight hundred pages, Manly Manners is exhaustive, but not exhausting to read.

“Where there is possibility to help, there is a responsibility to help,” James writes, which is a good motto for any aspiring gentleman. Goodness, honesty, and correct action are his watchwords. Manners, he says, are not a sign of subjugation or inferiority; rather, they convey respect when they are used, in any situation.

The writing is lively and fun, more reminiscent of Peter Post than Florence Hartley. James observes:

It is easy to be on good behavior at a baby shower, a funeral, or the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club; but when rushing to work on a blisteringly cold February morning, or when exhausted at the end of a rigorous day at the office, or when trying to get through a long, slow-moving queue at a security checkpoint at an international airport, many people tend to “relax” their normal standards of good manners and assume personalities somewhat like food-aggressive animals.

Manners as presented in this guide stand to ease difficult times for everyone. The book is designed for a generation of men who were not taught etiquette—a generation eager to read the latest how-to-get-laid guide while skipping over the basic nuts and bolts of human relationships. James knows that there’s more to relationships than just carnal knowledge, and he eloquently lays out the best paths to improving communication and conviviality.

Is it rude to suggest that Manly Manners be required reading? Wayne James brings back the gentleman’s code for the young man who knows that being a gentleman is more than simply wearing a suit.

CLAIRE FOSTER