Social Question

wildpotato's avatar

Do you say "please" and "thank you" within your family or relationship?

Asked by wildpotato (13598 points ) January 11th, 2013

When my fiancé and I have new friends over for the first time and they see us interact, they often say something like, “Wow, you guys seem to have a great relationship! You’re so…polite to each other.” We find this perplexing, because we were both raised by example to show consideration with speech like this, and it seems odd to (as I imagine; please tell me the true story if I’m wrong) be deliberately more polite in public and then “turn it off” in private. It makes me wonder if most people do not habitually say “please” and “thank you” and other such polite niceties to their SO, kids, parents, siblings, etc. Do you? If you don’t, does it seem overly formal to you when (if) you run into family groups/couples who do?

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47 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

Most of the time, unless we’re goofing around, my husband and I do say please and thank you, like if he gets me a glass of sweet tea or something. And yes, we both do with our parental units.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Constantly! Why should common courtesies be reserved for strangers, when we should really be showering them on the people we love?

CWOTUS's avatar

I always notice – in a jarring, not-nice sort of way – when people don’t observe common politeness with everyone, not just their own families.

When people address a waiter, for example, or receptionists or others who answer telephone calls to businesses, without a hint of “please” or “thank you”, but just, “I’ll have this” or “Do that” it seems completely uncivilized and rude to me.

But I realize, too, that part of that is culture. Some parts of the world don’t observe manners in the same way that I do and my family was raised to do. So that has to be taken into account, also.

AmWiser's avatar

Politeness and respect was a great part of my upbringing. So it’s just natural that I say please and thank you (at home and in public). And to my good fortune, Husband was brought up the same way.

hearkat's avatar

My fiancé and I are very polite. We both are reflexive with “please” and “thank-you”; and I recently observed that he is also reflexive with “excuse me” for every throat clearing, yawn, hiccup or bodily noise. I joked that his mother was a better trainer than mine.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I say it all the time, it costs nothing and the goodwill that is generated often is the key to good customer service. It has gotten so that it is second nature to do so with everyone.

The tech on the other end of the phone is more likely to spend the extra effort helping you if you indicate that help is appreciated by use of please and thank you.

zensky's avatar

With the kids yes – with my siblings not so much. Thank you, of course, but not please all the time. I do try to use modal verbs though – would you, could you…

jonsblond's avatar

Yes, we do.

zenvelo's avatar

This is one of my weak spots. I have a hard time saying “thanks” for compliments. And when someone says thanks to me, I have a hard time saying “you’re welcome.” My old girlfriend complained because she said I am usually polite.

It was something I worked on a lot in therapy.

burntbonez's avatar

In past relationships, yes. Now I’m on my own, except for friends, but I am polite to them.

bossob's avatar

We do; definitely; it’s how we were raised.

I’ve noticed that some folks think it’s not necessary to treat family and friends with the same courtesies and politeness that they extend towards strangers and newly-met acquaintances. If nothing else, that’s back-asswards, in my opinion.

ucme's avatar

Absolutely, not before & after sex though…that would be fucking ridiculous!

wundayatta's avatar

My wife and I are polite, and we are training our kids to be polite, and they do a pretty good job. People often notice how polite they are.

It’s a cultural thing. For some people it’s important. For others, not so much. Think how boring it would be if we all lived by the same rules. What would @gailcalled do if everyone used proper grammar and spelling?

Bellatrix's avatar

Yes we are all polite to each other. To do otherwise would feel like I was taking him for granted. Why do my partner and my children deserve less care and consideration than anyone else? If one of my children (who are grown up) didn’t say please, thank you etc. I would remind them.

harple's avatar

Yes we do, it’s just normal to us. The one thing my SO does that bugs me sometimes is say “go on, twist my arm” when someone offers him something. It’s said with a smile on his face, and he thinks he’s being very friendly saying it, but I feel it misses the key “thank you” element… I’ve pointed it out a few times and he’s already making a point of remembering to actually say the words of gratitude too, so I’m not worried!

glacial's avatar

Yes, always.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes we do, hugs too.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I do but we don’t overdo it.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

Good manners are good practice for good relationships with anyone. Says the guy who swears frequently on most of his answers :-/
But yeah. It’s a necessity. You don’t thank people and you’ll end up looking like you’re all about taking constantly, if you don’t say please, you look like someone who expects things because they’re royalty. I can’t be doing with that shi- stuff.

Earthgirl's avatar

I don’t know how often I say please to my husband. That sounds terrible but I believe a lot of the politeness is in the tone and attitude. I say would you, could you or can you do me a favor, hon? If he says no, or maybe or I’ll do it later, that is fine. The thing I hate to do is nag. I try to notice when he does things for me or takes care of things and say thank you. He’s the kind of person who likes to do it in his own time and when he’s in the mood. When I pester him to do something no matter how polite I think I am being he gets resistant. I work on being patient or if I can, just doing things myself. I think we are respectful to each other and considerate.
I haven’t lived near my family for years but we are very casual with each other. When you are close with someone isn’t the please sort of implicit? I mean it’s not as if that person is your servant and has to do it. This is an issue that mostly comes up with kids. People get used to ordering their kids around and they do it with their spouse too. Or there are also people who are just generally bossy. I find those people to be annoying at home and at work.

newtscamander's avatar

Yes, we do. I also remember being polite as a child, most of the time, and people commenting on it.

CWOTUS's avatar

Um, wouldn’t that be fucking polite, @ucme?

ucme's avatar

Um, I can’t imagine anything more cheesy/crass than…“please may we make love?” Or…“thank you darling, that was delightful.”

CWOTUS's avatar

I agree completely with the cheesy/crass assessment (based on the circumstances and exact dialog), but I still think it would be fucking polite, @ucme. ~

Jeruba's avatar

Wow, of course. All the time. Please, thank you, you’re welcome (which is not covered by “no problem”—you’ll never hear me respond that way), excuse me, and so on. I would be a little shocked if someone remarked on it as something unusual.

Likewise with friends, relatives, strangers, people in a serving or helping position, and anyone else.

geeky_mama's avatar

True story – the first time I met my future in-laws with my (then boyfriend) husband as he walked in the door to their house he yelled: “Hey Fart Face Mom and Fart Face Dad..come meet her!” I was, to be honest, a bit shocked..I think I said something like: “You talk to your parents like that?”..but over time came to realize this is his family’s sense of humor.
Still, that sort of communication style (highly sarcastic, slightly naughty, entirely juvenille) remains (even after over a dozen years of marriage) foreign enough to me that I’ve made it my “signature” to be the “nice one”.
Every birthday I get a “nice” card (one that tells my wonderful in-laws how much I love them) when my hubby gets them a humorous one that tends to be naughty.

We work hard on getting the kids to use manners (please & thank you – especially, for example, when ordering in a restaurant, etc.) and model this behavior as well..but aren’t sticklers for it at home. Our oldest daughter is actually the biggest “enforcer” of manners in her younger siblings. She started a habit of always thanking us for meals (when we all sit down to dinner she’ll make a point of thanking us for the food) and now the younger two kids have picked up that behavior as well.

ucme's avatar

Ah, but as i’m sure you are aware my dear @CWOTUS, fucking is a lot of things, but never ever polite! ;}

gailcalled's avatar

I can’t imagine not saying them, to anyone and everyone. It’s a reflex.

dabbler's avatar

I’m habitually polite and I like it that way. Seems like a sign of respect to me.

Others in my close vicinity are inconsistent, though, having considered politeness some kind of submission ritual when younger. This bug me no end when in some kind of mild conflict discussion the opposing party becomes combative, for no good reason. ...Ought to know by now it’s easy to push me pretty far by buttering me up.

Yeahright's avatar

@CWOTUS But I realize, too, that part of that is culture. Some parts of the world don’t observe manners in the same way that I do… Can you be more specific and come up with an example of a culture/country where ‘please, thank you, etc.’ is not observed? I always thought it was a matter of individuals not of culture. I have even seen translations of African tribes using their equivalent of such words.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’ve given examples (at least one, anyway) from my short trip to India a year and a half ago. Professional (Indian) people who are unfailingly polite with us (westerners) think nothing of peremptorily demanding information from random strangers that we interrupt as they walk or talk on the side of the road, and then turn away without a word of acknowledgement or thanks after they get what they want.

I’m sure it wasn’t “rude” to them; these are not rude people – with us – but it seems to be the way life is in India.

Yeahright's avatar

@CWOTUS Interesting. Than you. I have never been there, but one could argue that just because some people don’t do it, it doesn’t constitute the norm or the standard of that culture.

Shippy's avatar

Yes, I treat my family and people I love with respect, I wouldn’t do that more to a stranger. Strangers count less.

Pachy's avatar

Yes. My mother was quite diligent in teaching my brother and me manners. It’s the way she was brought up. I’m grateful for that upbringing and appalled by the dearth of manners I see everywhere.

Yeahright's avatar

I forgot to answer the question myself. I agree with @Shippy I am very polite with my family in general—though perhaps a bit lax with my sister in that I don’t say ‘please’ all the time. In regard to strangers, I am initially very polite, but I find it impossible to be polite with people who are extremely impolite. In those cases, I just forget all my manners and just go straight to the point of what I want/need and get as far away from them as possible. For me, polite interaction is like a game where if you don’t know the rules or refuse to abide by them, I don’t want to play with you.

Sunny2's avatar

Always. Who it is, doesn’t matter. Habits like that are ingrained from an early age, although anyone can make it a habit if they want to. It’s one of the things that oils the wheels of human progress. Thank you, with a smile makes many a friend of strangers.

tinyfaery's avatar

Most of the time. Small things slip by. I don’t even notice it.

Yeahright's avatar

I was raised to be polite no doubt about it. But in time, it is not the force of habit that makes me be polite, but the conscious understanding that politeness helps me to interact with people in a respectful and effective manner. I don’t take the habit to the extreme of being polite with people who doesn’t appreciate it and think that because you are polite you are weak and a total idiot. With people like that sometimes you have to give them a dose of their own medicine, so that you can interact with them in a more balanced way.

DigitalBlue's avatar

Yes, I do. My spouse really does not, but I’ve never really known him to be particularly polite (in the please & thank you sense) at all, and it doesn’t bother me. I do say please and thank you to the kids and to my parents, I may be lax in doing so with my siblings, I’m not sure. I have to really think about that.

Pachy's avatar

In New York, I learned within only a few weeks after moving there, saying “please” and “thank you,” which I had grown up saying to everybody, was totally useless, even frowned upon, when ordering food at at a deli counter. Why? Because it wasted time. Any of you who live or have ever lived in Manhattan know what I mean.

dabbler's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room I’ve lived in NYC for 25 years and have the opposite experience.
People definitely respond to signs of respect and politeness.
However, the pace here in all respects is different from other places and one does have to be very expeditious about it, adding your politeness like punctuation and with no flourishes. Otherwise you are wasting peoples’ time and that, as you note, is a sin here.

Leanne1986's avatar

I use my manners regardless of who I am with. Asking for something without saying please sounds like a demand to me and so I would feel like a spoilt little brat if I didn’t use it.

Also, I care more about what my loved ones think of me than anyone else so I wouldn’t want to appear rude to them.

dabbler's avatar

Not the same domain of relationships, but I recall a woman I worked with who would routinely use the nicest phrases when addressing everyone (e.g. “sweetness and light”) and it was not done in a false syrupy way. She got what she needed done, that’s for sure. Personally I was a real sucker for that and fortunately she never asked me for anything but normal work stuff.

Aster's avatar

Yes. I can’t imagine not saying please and thank you to everyone. I thought everyone did it .Stupid me.

mattbrowne's avatar

Of course, but not excessively.

forestGeek's avatar

I was raised, and raised my daughter to say these words in all interactions with people. I actually cringe when people don’t do this…especially my own kid. People can over do it though. In close relationships however, I will jokingly be rude/crude, but I’m sure they know I’m kidding.

Thank you!

wildpotato's avatar

@forestGeek And thank you.

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