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Dating Etiquette

For new couples and those in a long-term relationship


Couple eating sushi takeout together
Jamie Grill/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Couples who are dating need to be as considerate of each other as they were when they first met. Sometimes people take each other for granted and let their manners slide. That’s a huge mistake if you want to continue seeing this person.

Be Considerate of Time

Always be on time for your date. If you are the person picking up the other one, try your best to arrive at the designated time, or five minutes on either side of that time. Getting there too early may be annoying since your date is probably still getting ready. Making him or her wait is rude and shows a lack of consideration.

Occasionally, there may be a legitimate reason for being late. If this happens, call as soon as you can to let the person know and give an estimated time you’ll be there.

If You Must Cancel

Only cancel a date if it is absolutely necessary – like for a death in the family or you’re in the hospital. Never cancel simply because something better came along. If you do that, you may find yourself single again.

Phone Calls

Most people who are half of a couple call each other frequently. However, if you sense that you are calling too often, back off. No one wants to feel smothered.

When you are out on a date and your cell phone rings, keep the call as brief as possible. It’s rude to chat at length, leaving your partner feeling neglected and awkward. That also goes for texting.

If you tell the person you are dating that you will call, do it. This shows that you are a man or woman of your word. Any self-respecting person will expect you to follow through with your promises and may tell you to hit the road if you make a habit of not doing so.

Be Polite

Be respectful and polite to the person you are dating. If you are rude and obnoxious, this will be a red flag and you can ruin your relationship.

Rules of respect:

  • Don’t get drunk.
  • Don’t embarrass your date. If you need to discuss something that is personal, do it when the two of you are alone.
  • Never make fun of your date in front of others. Even if others laugh, if it’s disrespectful, your date won’t think it’s funny.
  • Give your date some attention. Ignoring your him or her at a party just might give your date a reason to move on and find someone else.
  • Never say anything that would hurt your date’s feelings regarding weight, attractiveness, or social status. You chose to go on this date, so be supportive.

Be Honest

You don’t have to divulge everything about yourself on the first date, but be honest. Lying will never win points if you want to have a relationship with this person.

Honesty is essential when it comes to these topics:

  • Your marital status: Never say you are single if you are married, even if you’re separated from your spouse.
  • Your job title: Don’t try to pump up your job title because the person will never trust you when he or she finds out the truth.
  • Anything about your past: Don’t exaggerate anything about your past because there will likely be a time when you’ll have to prove yourself.

First Date

Use the first date to learn as much as you can about the other person without being too aggressive or nosy. Have a list of questions to start the conversation, and then listen.

Be up front about who will pay for the date. If you invite the other person, it never hurts to say, “My treat.” That puts the topic right up front and eliminates the stress or embarrassment of not knowing. If the money hasn’t been discussed, make sure you have enough to pay your own way.

Go to a place where it’s easy to talk. When people go to a movie, there isn’t much of an opportunity to get to know the other person. Some suggestions of places for first dates include restaurants, a picnic at a park, a flea market, or a festival. It’s always good to have a backup plan in case your first choice is too crowded, or the weather turns bad.

First date etiquette rules:

  • Don’t expect too much too soon.
  • Don’t come on too strong. This includes talking about what you are looking for in a potential spouse or acting desperate for love.
  • Avoid talking about a second date unless you are sure you want one.
  • Don’t go on and on about yourself. Be quiet for a while and listen to the other person.
  • Ask questions and don’t be judgmental when the person answers.
  • Avoid discussing previous relationships or gossiping about your old flame.
  • If the other person doesn’t smoke, don’t light up.
  • Have breath mints, just in case.
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