Dating Etiquette by Rich
was a time when dating was simple. Men were expected to
be gentlemen and women were expected to be ladies. Their
roles were clear-cut. Today single people are often
mixed up about proper dating etiquette. This is
particularly true if you are re-entering the singles
scene after years of being half of a married couple. It
can be quite traumatic to play the "dating
game" without knowing the rules.
Singles often feel in a "damned if I do, damned
if I don't" situation. For example, if you're a man
and automatically pick up the check at a restaurant, you
may gain points with one woman but antagonize another.
If you're a woman and prefer to pay your own way you'll
find that some men love it and others hate it. So what
are the rules for dating in America in the Eighties?
There are none. What works with some singles, doesn't
work with others. It may be helpful therefore, to do 2
- Communicate with your dating partners. Let them
know your preferences in terms of male/female roles,
and find out theirs. For example, if you are a man
who enjoys opening the door for a woman, ask her if
she's comfortable with that or prefers to open her
own door. If you're a woman who likes to pay her own
way, check that out with your partner before the
- Be tolerant of your date's desires. Again using
the example above, if she says she doesn't want you
to open her door, then don't. Don't get upset or try
to persuade your date to give in your expectations.
There are 3 issues that come up most often during
Issue #1: Who Initiates
the Date ?
Despite what you hear about women's liberation, the
man usually initiates dates in America. But it also is
socially acceptable for a woman to initiate a date. So
do what feels comfortable.
Issue #2: Who Controls
the Date ?
Some men enjoy the "masculine" role of
deciding where to go on a date. Many women feel quite
comfortable with this. In that case, there's nothing
wrong with an "old-fashioned date" with the
man making the decisions. Many men and women, however,
want a more equal relationship where both share in the
decisions. It's important, therefore, to communicate
your preferences and try to come to an accommodation
with your partner.
Issue #3: Who Pays
Here again you can't believe all you read and hear
about women's liberation. The fact of the matter is that
most women in California expect the man to pick up the
check at restaurants, bars, etc. If you're a man,
therefore, expect to pay most of the time.
Some men feel uncomfortable with picking up the bill.
They prefer a "Dutch treat" where the bill is
split. That's fine, as long as you have discussed this
earlier with your date and she has agreed to it.
Otherwise, it is quite rude to ask a woman out to a
movie, for example, and announce to her at the ticket
window that she has to pay for her own ticket.
Men who would prefer that the woman "pay her
fair share" often feel uncomfortable about
discussing these matters. They are afraid that the woman
will consider him to be cheap. This is indeed a
possibility. Many women expect to be treated generously
by a man. Some want to be taken to expensive
restaurants, night clubs, etc. They may expect the man
to bring flowers, a bottle of wine, or candy on a date
when he comes to pick her up.
What do you do if you're a man and feel uncomfortable
with all this? Don't date that kind of woman. There are
plenty of women who are willing to pay their own way.
They are the minority, but still a sizable one.
Some men feel quite bitter about society's
expectation that they pick up the tab on dates. They
can't understand why women are so "unfair".
The most obvious reason is tradition. Throughout history
men have been the "providers" and women have
been the "homemakers". Today, with a
significant percentage of the American work force
composed of women, this is no longer always the case.
But old traditions die slowly.
Another explanation is the fact that women only earn
72% of what men do in our society. For this reason many
women feel that it is quite fair that the man pay for
activities on dates.
One way the issue of equity is often settled is by
the man paying for out-of-pocket expenses and the woman
repaying him by having him over for dinner. This is a
very fair way of handling the issue since most single
men don't eat very good meals and really appreciate a
If you are a woman, you may have a problem adjusting
to the expectations of different men on this issue. One
man may be offended if you offer to pay your half. The
next may be delighted. Again communication and tolerance
are the keys. Normally it's assumed that the man will
pay, but if you prefer to pay your own way you should
discuss this ahead of time, preferably on the phone
before your first date.
Come to an agreement on who is to pay.
What do you do if the man insists on paying? You can
call him a male chauvinist pig and refuse to go out with
him again. Or you can accede to his wishes and let him
pay. This has obvious financial advantages. There often
is a disadvantage, however. Some men believe that if
they spend money on a woman this entitles them to sexual
favors. Don't allow yourself to fall into this trap. If
you're going to feel pressured to give in sexually to a
man who spends a lot of money on you in an evening then
insist on paying your own way. If he won't agree to
this, then cancel the date.
In other words, stick up for your rights. Try to be
accommodating to the needs of your date, but not at the
cost of sacrificing your own values or comfort.