In these increasingly casual times, some of the nuances of being a good date are being left behind. Sure, you know you shouldn’t chew with your mouth open or discuss politics, but there are plenty of fumbles, both big and small, that can take a date from a great night out at a romantic restaurant to a night you wish you could just forget. Knowing what to do — and more importantly what not to do — on a date can make all the difference. So learn how to be a more polite person and avoid these dating etiquette mistakes.
There are a lot of ways that dating has changed since you were a teen, but one major way is that things are a lot more uncertain nowadays. Before your date even begins, make sure both parties know it’s a romantic occasion. Nothing would be more embarrassing than going in for a hug when the person you’re with is expecting a handshake. Be sure whoever you’re out with knows you’re looking to be more than friends.
Everyone gets busy, we totally understand that. But if you’re going out on a date with someone, try to stay committed to the date and time that you originally planned. Even if you have the best intentions, scheduling and rescheduling a date over and over again makes it seem like you don’t actually have any interest in following through on your plans. This can mess with someone else’s emotions, which certainly is a little rude.
Hopefully, if you’ve reached the point where you’re going on a date with someone, you know at least some of the things they like (and don’t like) to do and you can plan your evening out accordingly. If your date doesn’t like scary movies, don’t go to see the latest horror flick in theaters. If you’re going out with a vegetarian, maybe avoid the best steakhouse in your state.
An activity like going rock climbing, spending the night at a comedy club or trying out a new sushi place may sound like a lot of fun to you, but not everyone enjoys these things. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to double-check with your date before finalizing any plans.
You don’t want to be severely over- or underdressed for any occasion, including a date. If you’re the one being asked out, ask a few questions about where you’ll be going and dress accordingly. Nobody wants to be in a ball gown at a fast-casual chain, wearing jeans at a Michelin-star restaurant or rocking a turtleneck at a night club.
This should go without saying, but if you and your date are meeting at a restaurant or other mutual location, make every single effort to be there on time. Get ready for your date well in advance, check for traffic and leave early if at all possible. Being late for an engagement is rude to your guest and shows an inherent lack of regard for their time. Basically, it’s the worst way to start off a date.
Unless you and your date agree that you’ll be ordering for the both of you (or that you’ll pick each other’s dishes as a fun game), don’t do this. Pushing your ideas about food onto another person is rude. If you really feel strongly about a certain dish on the menu, suggest it casually but leave the final decision up to your date to avoid an awkward situation.
There’s one rude habit that’s incredibly common: checking your phone while in the presence of other people. We’ve all done it, but this behavior really should be avoided if you’re out on a one-on-one date with another person. That text message, Twitter thread or meme your friend sent you via Instagram can wait until you’re back home.
Just because you manage to stay off your phone doesn’t mean that you’re going to be an engaged date. To show your date the extent of your adoration and interest, be sure to make eye contact. This shows that you’re focused on them, you’re interested in what they have to say, and they’re attractive to you. This is an easy and great way to make a great impression on your date.
Lying in any relationship is a major no-no, but it’s especially important to be honest with someone you’re romantically involved with. A lie is a lie, no matter how far into your relationship you are. One of the biggest first date mistakes you can make, for instance, is telling the other person that you’re looking for something serious when you’re not. Admittedly, it’s not ideal to be brutally honest to a fault (especially about things that aren’t even asked), but be sure to be real with the person you’re with. It’ll only help you and your relationship in the long run.
There are a few topics that you should never discuss on a date: politics, religion and money, for instance. Now, if you’re going out on a date with your longtime partner, your feelings on these things will have been long-established. However, nothing puts a damper on an evening quite like a discussion about your finances or the White House.
We get it. You’re interesting and cool and people tend to like you a lot. But it’s exhausting to hear about all evening long. Be sure to ask your date about themselves. And please, be genuinely invested in what they have to say.
Just because you should ask your date some questions about themselves and their life doesn’t mean you should interrogate them. Remember: You’re out on a date, not a job interview. You want to keep your conversation natural.
You know what’s more uncomfortable than lying, discussing controversial topics, being a braggart or drilling your date about their college GPA? Not talking at all. Sure, if you’ve been with someone a long time and live with them, you could feel like you’ve exhausted all topics of conversation; if you’re out with someone new, maybe you just don’t know what to talk about. Either way, it would be smart to brush up on your small talk skills rather than sit there in awkward silence.
There are a lot of reasons to have a glass of wine every day, and going out on a date is just one of those reasons. There’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks when you’re out at a bar or restaurant on a date, but know your limits and stick to them. You may think you’re charming when you’re drunk, but your date could just think you’re a fool.
Treat your date how you would like to be treated (or better). Hold doors open for them, listen when they speak, help them into their chair, and make sure that they’re having a good time all night. Don’t speak over them, and don’t walk ahead of them on the sidewalk.
In theory, the person who initiated the date should pick up the check. So even if you feel uncomfortable with that situation as the second party, perhaps you can reach for the check but then let it slide. If not paying for the dinner genuinely causes you distress, suggest splitting the dinner 50/50 or make sure you pay for the next date.
There’s a line between a friendly hug and assuming that you can go home with your date. Don’t think that you can just kiss someone without asking first, and definitely don’t assume that just because you paid for that steak that you are owed any particular intimacy in return. And please, for the sake of others around you, try to avoid PDA.
Not every date is a love connection. It’s not OK to ditch a date in the middle of the appetizer course, but it is OK to skip dessert or not go to that charming cafe for coffee. If a date isn’t going well, don’t drag it along. There’s nothing more rude than being misleading. If you’re not feeling it, call it a night. Just be nice about it. Leading someone on is a way that you’re being rude without even knowing it.
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