21 Lost Lady Traditions That Still Apply Today

In Inspiration by Kristen Dalton Wolfe78 Comments


Acting like a lady is carrying yourself with dignity, which also empowers a man to be a gentleman.

Many of us want a true gentleman, but I believe we hold the power to the way we are treated in our hands. It’s the law of attraction and common sense: If we want a gentleman, we must be and act like a lady.

In all areas of life, I believe being a lady displays self-respect, class, appreciation and etiquette. It also allows you to enjoy the niceties of life with the ease of knowing how to act in all situations. You don’t have to come from wealth or be wealthy in order to conduct yourself like royalty.

After doing some new research and also recalling my southern roots which included cotillion and etiquette classes, here are 21 lost lady like traditions that still apply today:

Make this your year to rise up, princess.



1. If a man knows that it is etiquette to remain standing until you are seated, be sure to sit promptly as to not leave him standing too long.

2. No rude or shocking language, especially at the table. Your language is a representation of your mind and heart.

3. Don’t talk with your mouth full. I don’t need to explain this one.

4. She dresses tastefully: A lady dresses appropriately for the occasion.

5. Phone calls: When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is not to make phone calls before 9 am or after 9 pm.

6. She is gracious: She never just says, “hello” when being introduced to someone. She offers a kind greeting like, “it’s a pleasure to meet you” or “how are you this evening?”

7. She turns her phone on silent and puts it away for meals, meetings and church.

8. She says, “yes, please” or “no, thank you.” She does not say, “yep” or “nope.”

9. She gives compliments with sincerity and only when she means it. She does not say things just to say them. Insincerity is easier to read than we think.

10. A lady offers to help someone in need. Being a lady starts with how you treat yourself and others. She offers her seat to the elderly, disabled or a parent with small children.

11. She RSVPs promptly, reads an invitation thoroughly and does not ask for exceptions. She always promptly sends a detailed thank you note to anyone who has shown her hospitality.

12. She never arrives empty handed. Bringing a small hostess gift shows your appreciation for the preparation your host has done.

13. Her word is her bond. A lady warrants a respectable reputation purely by the consistency of her word. She always keeps her promises.


The Dating Lady:

14. Don’t call him, he’ll call you. A lady knows that she deserves to be pursued and does not do so. If you are in the position that you have to initiate contact in order to communicate, then you should know that you are not dealing with a gentleman and can move on.

15. Time frame: no one gets to call you on a whim to hang out. Your time is precious and valuable and you are clearly booked days in advance. Someone who honors your time will plan ahead and ask to take you out with at least a 48 hour request.

16. You don’t meet a guy anywhere. He comes and picks you up, especially on the first date. It can be inconvenient, but is it your job to make dating you convenient? No. The last thing you want to be is convenient. However if  you are meeting someone in person for the first time, meeting in a neutral location is a smart, safe move. Always honor your intuition.

17. Curfew: Mama always said nothing good happens past 10 o’ clock and she’s pretty much right. So set the time you need to be home in advance and let your gentleman know about it ahead of time.

18. Appreciation: Being a lady and acting lady-like does not mean that you are entitled or snobby. Practice having a heart of gratitude and always say thank you for specific actions or generosities.

19. How to order: Have respect for your gentleman and do not behave with entitlement by ordering the most expensive thing on the menu. If he wants to treat you to a fine bottle of wine, he can order it or offer for you to make a selection.

20. Be a good listener and conversationalist. Put your phone away and be present. A lady is not boring, rude or dismissive.

21. Be prepared. If you are going out with a gentleman, he will cover your date. However, you should always be prepared to pay if the date does not go well or he forgets his wallet. The gentleman version of this article on GoodGuySwag.com says,

“An English gentleman never split the meal with his date. The English used the term “go dutch” in “derisive application,” as they stereotyped the Dutch as being cheap, or “stingy.” Today, the gentleman always picks up the tab, especially on the first date, and with no expectations.”

30 Characteristics of a Modern Lady explains that ultimately etiquette is the natural byproduct that flows through a lady’s character. These traditions are mostly common- sense that simply allow you and others to enjoy life more.

If this article intrigued you, please share to inspire others.

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    1. # 7 the most annoying thing..put your phone away for the movies and or the Theater!

    2. Great post! However, I do think it is okay for a lady to contact a gentleman from time to time!
      In my experience, always waiting for a guy to contact you can start to seem like you are playing games with them. If it’s clear that they are pursuing you, I’d hope a true gentleman would appreciate the reciprocated effort once in a while?

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  2. I absolutely love this, and it’s so true! A lady’s behavior and actions tell others how to treat her.

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  6. Great advice! I do disagree with one. These days I would only meet the man in a public place unless I know him well enough to know that he is a gentleman and not a creep. It is unsafe to let him know where I live or to be in a situation with him that could be a problem if he is not a gentleman.

    1. I agree with BT on the about having the guy pick you up at your door. These days it’s not safe to do that, you never know what the guy can do. I would go for meeting him somewhere out in the open where other people can see you and him in case something was to happen. I know, I was a widow when I met the guy I live with now. We talked back and forth online for a while before we met face to face. He wanted to met face to face but didn’t know the area very well, so I suggested a Nature Preserve in the area where there is always a lot of people. We sat and talked for quite a while at one of the picnic tables, then we went on a hike in the Nature Preserve. After a year of dating we knew we were right for each other and we had a commitment ceremony with our friends and family right at the place where we first met.

    2. Very good advice for today. For a first date, I think it is okay to have him meet you somewhere that is convenient for both of you. A lady doesn’t travel to meet him; he should put in an effort to meet in a central location so as not to inconvenience either one of them.

      I think it also behooves a lady to never invite a man up to her hotel room, condo, or apartment, if she does plan on meeting him at her residence. Meet the gentleman in the lobby until you know him well enough to invite him into your home.

      1. exactly, there are a lot of creeps out there, and if anything does happen, the first thing they accuse you of is “inviting him in” like that gives a fellow license to do what he wants!

    3. If you don’t know a man well enough to be sure he’s not a creep, why in the world would you even agree to date him one on one, regardless of where you meet?

      Meet him at a few group gatherings. Double date a few times. For heaven’s sake, don’t date one on one, regardless of where you meet him until you are very confident he’s legitimate, honest and reliable …

    4. If I don’t know that he’s a gentleman and not a creep, I’m not going to go on a date with him, and I’m definitely not going to give him my address, number, or any other information. Friendship should come before dating, in my opinion, and I have too high of standards to date anyone I don’t already know is of good character, has good manners, and is deserving of my time and respect. In that way, I think I’m very lady like. In other ways… I need to work on a few things.

  7. I will have my son’s read this as well. That way they find not just a girlfriend/wife, but a lady as well.

    1. If you haven’t, read the gentleman version, (link at the end of #21) its delightful. If I had sons I would certainly have them read it. Both articles compliment each other nicely.

  8. I can’t tell you how much I love this post, Kristen! Amen, amen, amen!

    As the mother of two young daughters (and three sons), I long to see the art of femininity passed along to another generation of true ladies.

    Thank you for writing this. I am sharing! xoxoxoox

  9. This is inspiring. My wife shared that she wanted to apply it. But I think some of these were not qualified properly:

    Making Victorian rules that go beyond moral laws with words like “always” or “never” and not recognizing that some of these have exceptions can be very discouraging and cause problems. So the one about keeping your word, sure, it should say, “Always”, but the one about “never” ever showing up without a hostess gift? This should not be a burdensome “law” that makes my wife feel that if in some particular situation she didn’t have time to get a gift, she has “failed” at being a lady. Life is never that simple.

    Other than defining Ladyhood too strictly at some points, I think it’s generally a very good list.

    1. That was a very good addition, CB. 🙂 My thoughts exactly. Most of these are rules I was raised with, with the main exception that I was taught splitting on the date’s cost is fair. I will be teaching my son he does not HAVE to pay for the whole first date any more than his partner HAS to give him a kiss (or more) in return for paying. If that makes sense lol. I think it’s a good safety measure to teach girls (and boys maybe?) that in an early dating relationship, paying your own way can be the best thing to do. Not all people we date are going to have ladylike thinking or gentlemanly ways in mind.

      The other one I feel may be unfair is the 48 hour rule! Many of us are ‘living on the fly’ lol and sometimes 48 hours may not be possible. I’d have been over the moon if a man had called me with a spontaneous fun plan. 🙂 And bringing a hostess gift is a lovely idea in general but at times, I’ve found some people would rather you not (especially family). But I think that’s a common sense one maybe. Even a small box of chocolates to share after dinner or a few flowers or something would do and I can’t imagine anyone being embarrassed over that.

      1. I’m always trying to be a gentleman, but I can’t accept dutch way in a first date or the followings. For a gentleman is not a matter “because I bought dinner, I expect a kiss or something in exchange”, it’s a matter of respect and to know and appreciates her kindness to have a date with him.

      2. I agree with being taught to act and be a lady. People will respond to you in a positive way, as a rule. There are so many women out there that just simply behave, sound like and look like slugs.

        I was taken a little aback by the person who wrote she is teaching her son(s) to expect the date to go dutch on the evening. What a horrid thing to teach your male child. If he cannot afford to pay for the entire date, he should not be asking. Ladies should NEVER agree to go dutch, unless it is male friend (not a date) where she understands his financial predicament and they know from the outset that is what will happen. That is not a date in any sense of the word if he expects her to pay for anything.

    2. I think one should always arrive with a hostess gift. Most of us were taught that “rule” when we are young. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive; it can be flowers clipped from the garden, a small loaf of homemade bread, or just a pretty recipe the hostess has said she’s always wanted to try. While it’s true that one doesn’t always have time to purchase a gift before hand, it is lazy and unimaginative to not think of anything to take the hostess. This is why etiquette experts often recommend a “gift drawer” for the home for such emergencies when one doesn’t have enough time to purchase a hostess gift. Having a gift drawer means a lady always has a pretty card, ribbon, fancy soap, bottle of wine or whatever for those occasions when she doesn’t have time to customize the hostess gift to the hostess.

      1. I was taught that sending a thank-you gift to the hostess after the event was just as acceptable as bringing it with you; moreso if the hostess is someone you don’t know well enough to have a good idea of what she would appreciate beforehand. In these days of increased awareness of sensitivities, allergies, and preferences, I consider it much preferable to a generic and possibly unwelcome gift like scented soap or candles alcohol, or knicknacks.

      2. I totally agree. My husband and I don’t socialize much and when we do it’s usually with family. We travel quite a bit so I try to find something unique that I can hold onto to give as a hostess gift when the occasion arises.

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  12. I used to be really embarrassed telling people (especially guys) that I need to be home before 10 PM until I read this – thank you 🙂 for letting me know I’m on the right path!

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  17. I was never comfortable with a man picking me up at home until I knew him well and felt I could trust him. There are too many creeps in this world and sometimes you don’t figure that out until you’ve gone on a few dates. I would much rather he not know where I live. I would also want a way to leave if it should become necessary. I don’t live in a city where you can stand on any street corner and hail a taxi. In fact, public transportation is not a big thing around here and I certainly wouldn’t want to be sitting on a dark bench waiting for a bus.

  18. I went on a blind double date in college. I didn’t offer to pay my way, and my date was expecting me to pay for myself. There wasn’t any uncomfortable conversation about it, but the feedback he gave our mutual friends was that he liked that I was “a real lady.” Not sure if that was code for anything else, but that definitely stuck with me.

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  20. Hi, lovely article. May I just correct one error though; I’m English and ‘going Dutch’ is not a derisory term, nor used to imply stinginess.

    In fact a modern world, where women now work, and expect to to treated as equals many people believe sharing the cost of a date is only right and proper. I will certainly teach my girls to pay there own way. If nothing else it reduces the risk of any man believing that paying for a date entitles thelm to some other form of payback.

    Love the article and the reminder that manners are everything.

    1. This whole feminism thing really annoys me. It was supposed to be about being allowed to work, being allowed to vote, being allowed to own property, having the same rights as men legally. This shouldn’t reduce the fact that a man is supposed to be the head of the household and should be capable of and willing to provide for his wife/family. And if someone is going on a date with someone who thinks they are entitled to some form of compensation from a woman who agreed to go on a date to a place at the man’s request/suggestion, then they clearly didn’t know the guy well enough to be going on a date with them. Or they have low standards.
      Just my take on the topic. You have a point about some guys thinking that paying for a date entitles them to a second date or… other forms of compensation, but I do everything I can to avoid that kind of guy. I don’t date a guy unless I can be sure that he is worthy of my time, my respect, and my interest.

  21. Thank you for this great article! These social graces are so important, but sometimes overlooked in modern society. A reminder is always welcome & needed.Good women can change the world!

    Warmly, Michelle

  22. There are so few ladies left. Probably fewer gentlemen. I consider myself a gentleman and generally abide by the rules oulined in the sister article. It really makes me sad to think how culturally we have regressed to a unrefined, ill mannered society. I’m not rich, I work hard, and enjoy life when I can but I always try to remain a gentleman. I was married at one point and had she read this article, I think things may have ended up differently. It can’t be one sided or forced, it has to be engrained. A confident lady is the sexiest woman you’ll meet.

    I will always insist to pick up the check, especially on a first date. I like doing it, so please allow a gentlman to do so. A lady will always walk in front or on the safe side. I will always get the door. It just works out that way. I’d prefer to pick her up if I’m going out on a date, but I know I’m a gentleman. Then again, I don’t believe in online dating. I know we are all about equality these days but there is something really nice when you meet a real lady, especially one who would appreciate a gentlman. Still waiting for that subtle glance across the room.


  23. This was so refreshing to read and to know that the notion of the proverbial lady is still alive and well. All a woman’s persona is enhanced by not only practicing lady like behavior, but through internalizing these qualities.
    Men would likely more readily act the gentleman.

  24. I have trouble with this,”Formal Commitment”….so now it’s OK to live together….not a good example for the younger generation………….I’m giving a class on Etiquette and your articles are very helpful……..Thank You..

  25. I have trouble with this, “Formal Commitment”,…so now it’s OK to live together…….this is not a good example for our younger generation……..I know it gives financial freedom to each, but, a lawful commitment, it isn’t….I am giving a class on Etiquette and your articles really help……….Thank You…….

  26. Thank You for this article. We have lost to many social graces. I especially think the rule about the cell phone applies. Using a cell phone at the table or on a date is the rudest thing possible. If I were with someone using the cell phone during dinner, I would get up and leave. One should always send a written thank you note, not on line. Another thing that is the height of rudeness is family members hosting bridal or baby showers. Invitations should be written and sent in the mail not on line. I could go on and on.

  27. Needs to be taught in our schools. Great article & definitely something that many know nothing about in our day. Thankful my Mama taught me how to be a lady. We need Moms like her in these times!

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  29. What a fabulous article! I truly enjoyed all the etiquette tips for being and acting like a lady. I especially loved the following statement:

    “Acting like a lady is carrying yourself with dignity, which also empowers a man to be a gentleman.”

    Quite true!

  30. I appreciate your remarks. I have just retired as a nurse practitioner, AND! When my young patients asked for a freeze pop, I would “say”, what are you supposed to say? Thank goodness, I finally got them to say please and thank you!
    ON my teenagers, when they said yep, I told them I wasn’t a dog and they could say yes or no and thank you!

  31. Wow. Everyone realizes that women have moved beyond being percieved as subservient and lower than men, right? (Not that we ever WERE those, it was imposed upon us.) Be who you are, not what others tell you to be. In that, however, be loving, fair, honest and strong.

  32. I want to see what a man does with his money on the first, second and third date. Is he stingy on the first date and expects me to pay half? Does he pick a cheaper restaurant, but buys nice things for himself? Red flags if the guy insists you pay half and is stingy with you as opposed to himself. The way he treats you in the dating relationship should reflect how he’ll treat you in marriage. Does he still insist upon paying for the meal a year after dating, or does he get lax and expect you to pay the meals? Does he insist upon buying nice things for himself and cheap things for you? Does he say you’re being selfish if you don’t pay for the meals? These can be red flags of an abusive man.

  33. I agree with almost everything but being picked up at your home. If it’s an older woman and you don’t know him every well and it’s your frist date I think it safer to meet him at the place he chooses, or to have him pick you up at a friends house. This way if things don’t go well he does not know where you live. If it’s a teen starting to date yes she needs to picked up at her house. I am very careful now. I used to have the guys pick me up at my home but after a date that did not go well and I not wanting to go out on a second he would not leave me alone. Kept coming to my house.

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  35. I saw this post two years ago and I’ve been looking for the website ever since. I’m really glad I found it today, still very great advice. Thank you Kristen

  36. I find this article to be very helpful. I am trying to learn more etiquette. I was not taught any. If you have anything else that can help me please send it to me!

  37. That’s why it is a list “art” so to say. Being thoughtful and courteous should not be considered “burdensome” or seen as a “law ” that is annoying. It is a thoughtful act toward someone who is going all out for you and inviting you to have dinner. To say something is “too strict” (imo) says the person who thinks that is a compromiser and doesn’t want to hemmed in by societal rules anyway. That being the case, those who feel this way should make up their own rules because they live like this anyway. They do what they can get away with.
    Yes, I realize (his) comment was in 2015 however, like myself others may come by and red these comments and be effected.

  38. I am not sure why people think so many things should be taught in schools. Educating children regarding “morality, character, virtue, etc” should be taught AT HOME BY THE PARENTS. Leave academics to be taught in school. That is what they attend college for and not to instill morality. If children were taught this behavior at home schools would be a safer place. How can a person who is a complete stranger “teach” a child how to behave properly when around strangers? My parents called this #hometraining. ijs 🤷🏻‍♀️
    Parents need to take pride in themselves and not want the behavior of their children to reflect poorly on them therefore THEY themselves will properly guide their children’s behavior. It is not something people care about. I think it is the result from people born in the 60’s (whobhave children born in the 80’s) and beyond who have raised such a generation of poorly behaving adults/children into society.

  39. The foundation for a lifelong habit of good manners should absolutely be laid down by parents. And while academics are of primary importance, schools are responsible for reinforcing those good manners: sharing classroom toys and materials, waiting one’s turn, conversing respectfully, respecting public property, and the like. As for adult women, one thing that really bothers me is the way so many are apathetic about looking presentable in public. Some want to be swaddled in fleece all day, some insist that modern womanhood means eschewing any ‘archaic’ or ‘patriarchal’ notions of proper attire, and some have this misguided notion that dressing up even a little would appear snobbish or classist. I don’t mean that we have to be dressed to the nines while running errands, or that ladies must wear heels (it’s unhealthy to wear them constantly, and some medical conditions won’t allow for it). I mean I find it extremely disrespectful to wear jeans to funerals, yoga pants to church, or sweatsuits to school functions. People of both sexes too often refuse to make the minimum effort, and then get irate when they perceive they’ve been ‘treated unequally’ by shopkeepers or their children’s teachers. What do they expect when they conduct their business in fleece pajamas? If they don’t show a little dignity, others will find it harder to take them seriously. But, no; physical comfort is paramount these days. Wearing a daily uniform of huge sloppy T-shirts over frayed sweats destroys a woman’s femininity, and makes her look like she’s just plain given up. Overweight, limited clothing budgets, and coping with a messy toddler are not valid reasons for dressing like a slob in public. This is a relatively new phenomenon. I’m also saddened that pretty skirts and dresses have mostly gone the way of the VCR, and that in most situations I’ll find nine out of ten women wearing the same boring jeans and workout gear. I often feel out of place, but that won’t stop me from wearing mostly skirts and pretty palazzo pants. When I look and feel more feminine, I’m more confident and also conscious of ladylike behavior. I’ve noticed that men are more respectful and courteous, and other women claim that same connection between feminine attire and men’s responses. My husband, like most, appreciates the little extra effort it takes to dress like a lady.

    1. I wish I could shake your hand. I went to 7-Eleven to get coffee and a young lady came in your pajamas and slippers. I had to slap myself from staring. Things were swing and jumbling if you get my drift. I was embarrassed for her. I agree it comes from parents and my generation for whatever reason did not teach their children at all. We are paying for it too.

  40. Hm.. I think this article captures a culture that is square to its disadvantage.

    I’ve had numerous deep and connected conversations with men in the early hours on phone.
    To me, most “gentlemens” are flat, square and uninteresting, I see no reason to hustle for these men.
    A man with “bad gentleman behaviour”, can end up being the one that transforms your life in the most dynamic and interesting way, its up to you being square or dynamic to understand that.
    A gentleman is no guarantee, they can still betray and hurt you.
    Someone with a by-the-book-behaviour is kinda creepy. You want to know who that person is off guard.
    Being 100% spontaneously yourself makes you more attractive and will attract other spontaneous, openhearted men, like attracts like.

  41. It is sad to me how Americans have become so casual and “it is all about me” they do not even see the value in manners or what a gentleman is and what one looks like. The outfits I see young women with on today are what ladies of the night wore when I was younger and that is no exaggeration! Manners are not for you but others sw we all have a kindness and civility towards other in public. What you do at home is more your style and relaxed atmosphere. I blame my generation. We taught our children nothing but how to be spoiled and think of themselves an d not others. Manners means you think of others and respect yourself at the same time. It does not mean you are a goodie goodie or a prude. SIGH!

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  43. Penny, good gosh, I don’t even know where to start with your comment, but I cannot fathom why comfort *wouldn’t* be paramount. I’m living my life to be as present and functional with my family as I can be. Distracted by clothing that inhibits movement or hurts my feet, etc. is not acceptable to be. And to equate being “overweight” or having a toddler as being disrespectful to oneself is ridiculous. I hope you’re not elitist and a snob, but that is how it sounds here.

  44. Beautiful!
    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    I love how you explained this simply.
    I wish the Men and Women of this generation can see the importance of bing Ladies and Gentlemen.
    To have manners and being respectful to yourself and others.
    It’s not about wearing the best clothing as most people Presume.
    It’s about showing you have respect for yourself and others in your actions, attire, language and the way you treat others.
    Improper and rude behavior is not lady like.
    And women who dress revealing parts of their body is disrespectful and vulgar.
    We are living in a time where anything goes, people are forgetting integrity and virtue
    and moral standards that applies in having a better life for ourselves and everyone else.
    Thank you for you post. 🙂

  45. I am currently living in a third world country where western manners are not instilled in the people. Trying to find a man with these values is very very difficult. I live in India where dating is not part of the culture. Marriages are arranged and men are not taught niceties to impress a woman. I’m old school American and I have been miserable living here. I will soon be back in the West. 🙂

  46. While all of this is good advice, what about the lady who, is a lady in all respects, but never receives any call from any gentleman? Should she just give up and pursue other interests, thus becoming a “dignified spinster?”

  47. I somewhat disagree with one in the days we live in any guy could be a molester or a kid mapper so I meet in public

  48. This is classic and wonderful! Thank you. My daughter argued with me about several of these while she was growing up. Oh well said I.
    My husband STILL opens every door, pulls out and pushes in my chair and asks ever day what he can do for me.
    I love it, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

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  50. Aww, what a heartfelt post! Melts my heart. Being a lady is as important as being a gentleman. But, sadly these are being overlooked. Thank you for making us remind all the valid points.

  51. Hello Everyone. As an elderly person, I was raised much different than you young people are today. Sometimes the way I see young people behaving in public just tears at my heart. I was in too many beauty contest growing up, but I recall the 1st major one that I was in. I knew I’d win talent, dress & poise, but the deciding factor would be the Question. My question was,” should a young lady wear mini skirts?” My answer was very calmly given, “Sir, young Ladies do Not wear such revealing mini skirts.” I carried the highest score ever received. What a woman wears is a telling code of their own self esteem. I never taught “my girls” how to talk, therefore there was no reason for them to be seen in public. Ladies do not cross their legs, that’s a man thing. We cross our ankles. Want to know how ladies act, dress, or speak study our royal ladies who are trained to be the epitome of a lady. When you are a widow, having younger gentlemen vying for your time is still touching. Being told its because they wanted to be with a real lady, always brakes my heart because I know the other reason too. You must study to show thyself worthy, applies to more than the Bible. Be Blessed always in good standing with God. Lady Elizabeth Grace Sterling.

  52. Refreshing read! I always feel like I’m “too old fashioned” and just can’t find it in me to conform to the modern day ways. I always try to instill proper etiquette and good manners into my children. I am a single momma of 4; my boys (15 & 13) ALWAYS open doors for me and others. If this is the wrong way to have taught them…I sure as heck don’t want to be right.

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