Society as a whole has evolved so much that the dating rules that were set in stone a mere generation ago don’t apply anymore. Heck, what was deemed acceptable 5 years ago is no longer practiced today. Going out for a milkshake and taking a drive down Sunset Boulevard was deemed acceptable in the 60s whereas now, women expect to be wined, dined and entertained by their dates before even considering a second meet up.
Despite all the changes that we’ve seen in the world, one thing remains firm and steadfast: men absolutely have to practice chivalry for a date to go smoothly. Even the most feminist of women will undoubtedly appreciate this, no matter how hard she tries to deny it.
Even though men still have to play the part of the ultimate gentleman, more and more pressure is now being placed on women to perform during the first date. She is no longer required to just smile and look pretty. Stimulating conversation, a sense of humor and inherent intellect are now expected from the modern woman.
Although there is still a bias that’s skewed in the man’s favor, there’s no denying that women are playing a more important role in the dating scene. From initiating the first move to paying for the meal, women are certainly more in control than ever before.
How should the modern women behave in the dating scene?
In this fast moving world that walks the tightrope of gender equality, what are the rules when it comes to dating etiquette? More specifically, what are the rules for modern women? Here are 12 things to take note of, if you are a woman out on a first date at a restaurant.
#1 Dress well. The rule of thumb is to dress to impress, so be sure to put effort into your makeup, spruce up your hair, iron what needs to be ironed and accessorize well. Spritzing on some perfume before walking in is also a good idea, but be sure not to drench yourself in it as you could suffocate everyone in the room.
Of course, what you wear will depend on the sort of restaurant you are meeting your date in, but let’s just assume that you have reservations somewhere with tablecloths. Remember that you’re not attending an EDM rave, so don’t dress like you are. Cover up the naughty bits, but do not hesitate to show off your assets.
Wearing a tight sweater with a little bit of cleavage or donning a skirt that shows off your legs is fine, but don’t wear anything that suggests you could be heading out clubbing right after.
#2 Be on time. We are all familiar with the saying, “It’s okay to be fashionably late,” but really, it’s not. Punctuality is a characteristic that most people value and appreciate, so please make the effort to be on time. If you happen to be late through no fault of your own, be sure to be extremely apologetic and make it up to your date by being a charming dinner companion.
Even better than being right on time is arriving a little early. It’ll give you the chance to calm your nerves, and maybe even loosen up with a drink at the bar before being seated.
#3 Keep body contact to a minimal. Now that you’re at the restaurant and walking to the table where your date is patiently waiting, what do you do next? Do you shake hands? Hug? Give your date a peck on the cheek? What’s acceptable and what’s not?
I suppose it all depends on how well you know this person. If it’s a blind date, then perhaps a firm handshake and smile is in order. If he’s an acquaintance or a co-worker, a little hug or peck should suffice.
Here’s a little tip: the it-will-work-on-anyone-anytime solution is to do it the French way. Give your date air kisses on both cheeks. It’ll give him a whiff of your perfume and the chance to get close enough without full-on touching. Not only is this an elegant, yet expressive form of hello, it’ll make you seem chic and classy without going overboard. [Read: 18 ways to decode his body language]
#4 Be considerate when ordering. You may not know if your date is a baller or not, but even if you do, don’t take advantage of the situation when ordering. Keep it simple and don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu. It’ll make you come off as snobby and inconsiderate.
Do the same with your drinks. Instead of asking for champagne, ask for the house pour or settle for a simple cocktail that you know won’t break the bank.
#5 Listen and question him. Listening is just as important as contributing to a conversation. Do not zone out and start thinking of other things while your date drones on and on. Even if this person is the most boring human you’ve ever met in your life, use your social skills to steer the conversation towards something more interesting.
Mentally file away some key points that were made during the conversation, and bring them up later on. This will show your date that you were paying attention. People really appreciate this, so be aware during your date. [Read: 40 first date questions to get the conversation rolling]
#6 Don’t mention old boyfriends or the future. This point is the biggest boo-boo that you could possibly make on a first date. Never ever bring up exes, marriage or kids. Even if you have fallen completely head over heels for this person, do not even think about these talking points. You will probably scare them off, and be left wondering what went wrong. Unless your date brings it up, don’t speak about it and even so, give him generic answers and don’t go into too much detail.
An answer to the do-you-want-kids question is, “Perhaps one day with the right person.” If your date asks about exes, make a joke of it and move on by saying something like, “Well, obviously they are all in the past or we won’t be here right now.” If you guys make it to date two, three, four and so on, there will be plenty of time for those topics.
#7 Don’t drink too much. Sure, alcohol will certainly loosen you up and get the words flowing, but note the difference between flirtatious words and verbal diarrhea. There is a very fine line between the two, so be sure to watch your alcohol consumption. Limit yourself to a couple of glasses, and drink water in between. The last thing you want is to wake up the next morning regretting everything you said and did.
#8 Keep an open mind. Another piece of dating etiquette that you should adhere to is to always keep an open mind. Remember that people are different when it comes to their opinions. Different experiences, backgrounds, religious beliefs and so on shape people’s thoughts.
Hence, even if you completely disagree with your date’s viewpoints and mentally swear to never to see him again, do not lose your temper. Just let it go, and chalk it up as a loss or a funny story to tell your friends tomorrow. [Read: 20 ways to have the perfect first date conversation]
#9 Don’t hesitate to make jokes. More than a third of the single men polled in a recent survey published online on USA Today said that a sense of humor is very important in a relationship. If you are faced with an awkward situation or a long lull in the conversation, do not hesitate to use humor to diffuse the situation. It will put both of you at ease, and let your date know that you know how to have fun. [Read: How to be funny and get people to like your company]
#10 Be honest. Another tip to keep in mind is to always be honest. It is far too tough to keep track of exaggerated claims. There is no need to stretch the truth, because if things happen to work out between the two of you, your date will certainly find out that you lied and you will find yourself on yet another first date in no time at all.
Always remember to be proud of all that you’ve accomplished, and that there’s no need to pretend to be someone you’re not, just because you want your date to like you. If it’s meant to be, your date will like you for being you, and not the exaggerated version.
#11 Be prepared to pay or go Dutch. Although it is the general assumption that the man should pay for the first date, modern women are now taking a firm stand on either paying or going Dutch. Be sure to offer to pay or at the very least, split the bill. Your date may refuse and pay for it anyway, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he will appreciate the gesture, plus you’ll earn bonus points for sure.
Another thing to keep in mind is to always be prepared to pick up the tab. Your date could have genuinely forgotten his wallet or he could just be an ass, but either way, be sure to have enough cash with you or at the very least, your credit or debit card.
#12 Never go all the way. The final and most important tip of all is to never go all the way. Sure, women today aren’t as uptight about sex as they were 50 years ago, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re still a lady and should behave as such.
Hold out on the sex and tease him a little. There’s no harm in playing the game and making him want more. Take your time and see where it goes. If he’s willing to wait and be serious about your wishes, then he’s definitely worthy of playtime the next time you see him again. [Read: 16 signs your date’s going to be a one night stand]
Don’t forget to keep these dating etiquette rules in mind the next time you head out on a date. No matter how long you have been out of the dating game for, whom you are meeting, where the date is taking place at or whether you even like him or not, always remember to just be yourself. If everything falls into place, you may just be going on date number two sooner than you think.
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