Good dating etiquette looks like a lot more than holding the door open or sending a text to make sure your date got home safely.
It’s sort of incredible to consider how much the culture of dating has shifted over the past 50 years. In times past, the process of finding someone we connected with and turning the relationship into one of romance took significantly more time and effort.
Then, technology changed everything. Our phones became a part of our daily life, texting made us available to flirt all day every day, social media enabled us to size someone up and slide into their DMs, and dating apps helped us sift through a plethora of singles and land a date without even having to get off the couch.
But with all of these steps forward, we seem to have forgotten the basic principles of dating etiquette — including far more than just thanking a guy for buying dinner, sending a sweet good morning text, or not speaking with a mouth full of food. But what exactly does it include?
Make Your Expectations Crystal Clear
With younger generations afraid of commitment and a dating culture that has determined casual hookups to be the norm, it’s crucial that we're upfront about the type of relationship we’re looking for before the first date is over — before there’s too much emotional investment and walking away from the relationship won’t feel tragic.
Desiring the same sort of relationship is the first way to tell if the relationship has a chance.
Ensuring we want the same kind of commitment as our date does not only protects us from getting hurt, but also increases our chances of finding the right match for us without wasting days, months, years trying to keep guys who don’t want to be kept. Desiring the same sort of relationship is the first way we can tell if the relationship has a fighting chance.
Set Boundaries at the Beginning
Anytime we’re trying to woo and pursue someone, we’re always on our very best behavior, so to speak. We desire them to see us as the most intriguing, intelligent, and accepting versions of ourselves — leading us to bend some of our own “rules,” like not dating smokers or wanting to wait to have sex, to please them.
But eventually, because we have our rules for reasons that are likely dear to us, we’ll start wanting our new boyfriend to abide by them. If we don’t clearly state our boundaries and values from the start, our boyfriend will be left puzzled, surprised, and upset that we’re trying to change them now when, in their mind, these issues didn’t exist three months ago when we started dating. This doesn’t just increase the likelihood that we’ll date someone who isn’t a good match, but it also means we’re wasting precious time.
Refrain from Stringing Someone Along
A guy friend of mine once told me about a girl he liked — he’d made his interest clear, and while she never fully returned his feelings and dated other guys, she’d string him along by going out with him intermittently and throwing little bites of attention his way. She never totally turned him down, but also never shared his level of attraction or enthusiasm.
Don’t treat his feelings like your own personal ego boost.
Here’s the thing: It feels great to have someone like us, even if we aren’t interested in pursuing a relationship with them. But this doesn’t justify wasting someone else’s time, treating their feelings like our own personal ego boost, and keeping them from moving on. If we see that a guy is way more into the relationship than we are, it’s kinder to let him find someone who is interested.
Don’t Play Too Many Games
The early days of every budding romance are always filled with little games, a will-we-won’t-we dance, when we’re trying to figure out if the feelings we have for someone are mutual, and enjoy playing it cool for a while. But eventually, the games have to stop.
When we keep depending on games and being coy to keep a guy guessing, we’re essentially toying with his emotions, leaving him confused and most likely insecure about the effectiveness of his efforts. While we’re relishing in the excitement of the game, he’s wondering if he’ll need to move on and find a girl who’s upfront with her emotions and intentions. If we truly like a guy, the games can’t go on forever.
Be Intentional with Your Communication
We rely on our phones to do everything for us, from stocking up on deliverable groceries, to ordering a new pair of shoes, to communicating with our loved ones. With how accessible everyone is, it’s tempting to reach out to someone whenever the whim strikes us. But when it comes to having meaningful, difficult, or important conversations, communicating through text is normally unhelpful.
Save meaningful, difficult, or important conversations for face-to-face.
It’s essential that we’re intentional with the way we communicate with our boyfriend, especially when handling hard or significant topics. We’re all well aware that our tone and intention aren’t always expressed well over text, so saving some conversations to be discussed in person is usually the most effective and constructive tactic.
Be Compassionate If You End It
Not every relationship can last forever. Sometimes, we’re the ones left blindsided when our boyfriend breaks things off. Other times, ending it is a joint decision that we both come to. But other times, it’s on us to break up with a guy — and that’s always an uncomfortable position to be in.
In recent years, it’s become incredibly commonplace to ghost, slow-fade, or even break things off over text. And although it’s far more pleasant for the person ending it to use these impersonal strategies, it’s also horribly selfish and immature. If breaking up with someone is necessary, we have to respect them enough to do so face-to-face, expressing our desire to leave clearly yet compassionately. It’s always hurtful to be broken up with, so it’s crucial that we operate from a mature and sympathetic place.
Dating with good etiquette will inevitably help us foster healthy, satisfying, and prosperous romances, leaving less room for mistakes and regrets.
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