When it comes to dating, I'm afraid I'm not exactly an expert. In fact, I can honestly say I have never been on a casual date. I'm the type of person who skips the dating process and goes right into a relationship. Most women have very specific expectations of what should happen on a date... especially a first date. While opinions may vary on the topic of dating etiquette, my friend Mary (a more seasoned dater than I) and I have compiled a list of dating expectations for those who wish to be treated like a lady, by a perfect gentleman. As a caveat, these suggestions are coming from the perspective of what we deem to be the average expectations of women who prefer the man to initiate dating relationships. Even if this is not the case with your date, the suggestions below represent common courtesy and thoughtfulness. Take what you like, and leave the rest!
- Pay for everything. This practice has been contested in recent years with some women wishing to contribute on dates, or “go dutch.” Our suggestion is to err on the side of paying because you may risk not getting a second date if her expectations differ from what you've heard. She may offer to pay out of courtesy, but you should not let her unless she absolutely insists. A compromise may be that she offers to pay for ice cream or coffee after dinner as a sign of appreciation, but only if it’s her idea. You paying also signals that this is a date, and not just “hanging out.” This brings us to our next point.
- Call a date a date, you're both grown-ups and it won't scare her away. As one former date corrected me, “We're not hanging out, this is a date. Hanging out would be us sitting on the couch watching football and drinking beer.”
- Never ask a girl out and then say "let me know when you're free." YOU should initiate the scheduling of a date.
- Ask her real questions and listen for the answers.
- Don't brag, this is not a job interview.
- Make a decision (about anything!), giving options is appreciated but reenacting the conversation between buzzards from The Jungle Book "So, what you want to do?" "I dunno, what you want to do?" is a buzz kill. Decisiveness is attractive.
- When choosing a restaurant, ask her if she has any strong likes/dislikes or food allergies and then choose something that you think works with one place as a backup. A simple, "I thought we'd go to Olive Garden, how does that sound?" gives her an opportunity to voice her opinion but still shows you taking the lead.
- When you ask her out, call, don't text.
- Ex drama is left at the door, if you get serious that conversation will happen at the right time.
- Not all of us girls think about marriage on a first date, but it's okay if we do.
- We know that first dates are just first dates (even the first 3 for that matter) so don't worry about being pegged as a couple or creating unrealistic expectations. Just have fun!
- Ask for her number, don't give her yours.
- Like it or not it is your job to call after first date. If we don't hear from you within a week we may begin to think you're not interested. If, after several dates, you're not interested then tell her. Don't take the cowards way out by just "forgetting" to call until she gets the hint.
- Telling stories is great, reciting entire books is not. Keep your best and oh-so-entertaining stories brief and to the point.
- Just as with exes, do not bring up family drama, we all have some and will hear about it in due time but we're there to enjoy our time with you, not to be a therapist. Saying “My parents divorced when I was fifteen and so I lived in two different cities in high school.” is fine. “I have major issues with my mom/dad/sister and it has been hard to develop healthy relationships.” is TMI!
- Assume she's dating other people at the same time unless it has been stated otherwise and you are exclusive. This means you are free to do the same.
- Ask her out spontaneously or at the last minute once in awhile, but make that the exception, not the rule.
- Try to go beyond dinner and a movie. Try walks, museums, Putt Putt, the zoo, an art class, etc.
- Give reasonable compliments, we can smell flattery a mile away.
- Compliment her character as well as her looks, it means more.
- First date: To kiss or not to kiss? Unless the conditions are just right, a first date kiss may create unnecessary pressure or awkwardness where it doesn't need to be. Pay attention to her body language, if it's comfortable and she seems relaxed and is orienting herself close to you, offer your arm as you walk from one place to the next. Then go from there, if the feeling seems mutual, consider it! If not, remember anticipation is a good thing and there is no harm in waiting until you're sure the time is right.
- Surprise locations and activities are exciting and thoughtful! Just be sure she knows how to dress for the activity.
- Texting is fun and flirty in moderation, but use your phone as a phone and call her!
- Offering to pick a lady up from her home for a date is a traditional and courteous gesture if you know each other well enough for this to be comfortable. If it is a blind date, you met online, or do not know each other well, meeting in public is best. When meeting in public, try to find a place that is at least halfway between where both of you live, if not closer to her for the first few dates. If you offer to pick her up at her home and she prefers to meet in public , don't be offended, she is just doing what makes her most comfortable which will make the date more fun for everyone.
- Open ALL doors, for EVERY woman EVERY time, date or not.
- HAVE FUN! The point of dating is to get to know each other and have a good time!
Obviously, some women have higher expectations, and some less. The point is, be attentive, be generous, and show her a good time without any pressure. Tastes may vary from loving a man in a suit and tie, to wanting to be the girl on the back of that man's motorcycle, but it is always the gentleman inside that wins a girl's heart.
Do you have any dating rules or pet peeves? What is the best/worst dating experience you've ever had?