How to Stop Being Single and Get Ready to Mingle: Etiquette

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Dating etiquette can be confusing because while much of it is dated and fairly sexist, some people prefer a person with the etiquette of a Victorian era gentleman/woman while others will find it completely offensive. So what is the etiquette and how do you know if it’s safe to use? (liz west/Flickr Creative Commons)

Dating etiquette can be confusing because while much of it is dated and fairly sexist, some people prefer a person with the etiquette of a Victorian era gentleman/woman while others will find it completely offensive. So what is the etiquette and how do you know if it’s safe to use?

There are dozens of opposing views on the issue of who pays for the bill. Traditionally in a heterosexual couple, the man would pay for a women. Obviously this gets dicey for homosexual couples or feminists. While it may seem simple to just split the bill every time, some old fashioned people can see that as a turnoff, especially on the first date. Some say that the safest bet is for the dater who asked the datee out to be the one responsible for the bill, since it was their idea in the first place. That way the date is less about gender and more about hospitality.

If you decide that you want to be the one who pays for the bill, your best course of action is to pay for it stealthily without your date noticing. If you’re the one who doesn’t end up paying, make sure that you’re not going to the bathroom right before the bill comes, since that makes it seem like you’re dumping the bill on your date. You should also make a show of reaching in your wallet, even if you know you’re not paying, so that it doesn’t look like you’re expecting your date to pay. If, while digging into your wallet, they offer to pay, then you’re fine. If they don’t, then take out some money and split the bill with them. But even if you leave the restaurant with a date who just paid for dinner, offer to buy them a drink or dessert somewhere else as a nice gesture of gratitude.

Another, less controversial, gesture is walking on the side closest to the road when you and your date are walking along a sidewalk. Historically, gentlemen would do this to keep their dates safe from sewage being splashed by passing carriages, but now it still applies in keeping your date safe from traffic or splashing puddles. Because this act is so subtle, it’s unlikely that it will be noticed, let alone cause an argument. Those who are aware of this etiquette will likely find the gesture incredibly sweet, so it’s always a safe bet to try this one out.

Other smaller gestures include opening a door for your date, walking your date home and offering to carry your date’s things. Holding the door for someone is just a nice gesture in general and should be done for everyone, especially the person you’re dating. While you should always offer to walk someone home or to their car, if they ask you not to then you shouldn’t. It’s important to offer to walk your date home at night because walking alone on the streets can be incredibly dangerous in today’s society and because it will make your date feel safer and cared for. If they ask you not to, don’t insist, they may find you following them home creepy. Offering to carry your date’s things is also another nice gesture. It’s less about their strength and more about your consideration for them. But again, don’t insist if they say no.

While we may have taken great strides from Victorian era dating, it’s important to remember that some of the gestures involved in this etiquette can still apply and may be expected today.

If you have any questions or need any dating advice, feel free to contact me at rebecca.l.maher@uconn.edu. I’m positive other people are facing the same romantic problems as you, and would love to hear an answer.


Rebecca Maher is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rebecca.l.maher@uconn.edu.

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