Modern Dating Etiquette For A First Date

Up-To-Dating Etiquette…

Dating culture is in constant evolution. Just think about it…today, nearly every single person uses or at least has heard of Tinder; the $1 billion mobile app launched five years ago, and has—along with a bundle of other virtual sites—considerably changed how we go about seeking a significant other.

Woman Mobile Phone Tinder

​Dating is now super easy…

All we have to do is open an app that uses GPS to select people in our neighborhood, check out their brief profile, and finally, swipe right for “interested”, left for “not interested”. Sounds seamless right? Yet, is it really? Rules, expectations, stereotypes, etc. have grown tall within this uncharted land of love.

First Date Etiquette​

The starting point for this new, modern game of romance—a first date. From approaching someone to developing genuine intimacy—etiquette has morphed into a bizarre puzzle. If you are one who often gets lost on this foggy road, below are some suggestions for navigating a successful first date, which in turn, could lead to a happy, healthy modern-day relationship.

Take Inventory.

Before seeking a new lover, make sure that you’ve got love for yourself. Strain from previous relationships can stay sneakily tucked in—making us feel insecure to what others think, fearful of the future, and vulnerable in our own skin.

Prior to embarking on new dates, take a moment to check in with your thoughts; reflect on what you want and what you don’t want in your next boyfriend or girlfriend.

Talk it out with friends, family, therapists, even your ex-partner (!). This will cleanse out the messy past and prepare you for a fresh start. Putting yourself out there before you’re emotionally ready can quickly turn a budding romance sour.

Reevaluate Your “Type”.

If you are conditioned to only date your “type”, this unwritten rule is totally allowed to be broken. Having an open mind and stepping outside of your comfort zone makes the first-date-ride more exciting, adventurous, and ultimately—a true learning process. Today, we tend to idealize a soul mate that needs to be sifted out; more frequently than not, the kind of partner we are truly interested in doesn’t match up to the person we thought we wanted.

If You See It, and Want It—GO For It.

Follow Me

Needlessly said, life is too short. If you see/swipe/bump/trip into someone you are interested in, there is no difference in waiting for him or her to approach you, than if you were to approach them. Unmistakably—rejection will happen—that is just part of the experience. Bravery is a quality to work towards in this growingly dense world of courtship. Trust, you will have dates lined up by simply going for what you want—it’s empowering, and forever sexy.

Step Outside The Digital Lounge.

Don’t depend solely on this modern phenomenon, especially if it’s never been your preference. More “traditional” methods of dating are still completely available—exploring social circles, agreeing to set-ups, and dare I say—approaching someone in the flesh! We cannot allow the virtual realm to completely take over.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time Pre-chatting.

If you are exclusively on dating apps, be cautious of how much chitchat is happening before the first date. Talking endlessly in cyber-world is really just empty content. You both are communicating through a keyboard—(literally) not going anywhere.

Chatting on Dating App with Tablet

Get the essentials down through touch screen, and save the fun, noteworthy facts for in-person dialogue. Interacting with a potential partner IRL—with their tone, mannerisms, and vibe being visible—gives a much truer impression than through a mobile device. Don’t be discouraged to let a little bit of mystery linger!

Scenery Is Key.

Schedule your first date to take place in a crowded setting: a walk through an artisan market, lunch at a trendy cafe, or seats at a popular comedy show. Meeting a stranger for the first time to do an activity alone can be quite nerve-wracking. It’s really never an easy thing.

Choosing a spot that has other bodies and voices floating around makes your date mentally manageable. If you go to a movie or a quiet restaurant—surrounding silence will envelope itself into your first conversations with one another…it won’t be fun. However, be weary of places that might be too loud; having an initial meeting that involves shouting and constant repetition is equally frustrating.

Be Fashionably On Time.

If being late for a date is your norm—change this immediately—it’s not a thing. Time is valuable, and it’s really just plain rude to strategize on arriving later than arranged. Of course, if running late is a general bad habit—you’re probably not a bad mannered person at all.

Just keep in mind that every extra minute you leave that person waiting for you to arrive may build up some possible resentment. No one wants to sit through a bitter first date!

Love your imperfections.

We all know this—not a single one of us is flawless, or ever will be. Before your first date, don’t buy a new outfit, don’t try out that new hairstyle, don’t practice in the mirror how you’re going to explain your five-year-plan…wake up, do your regular routine, and go on your date—as you!

Fear of a person not liking who you are will totally show; putting on a front during a date never works. It may be daunting, but nothing is sexier than being your true authentic you. Also, can you think of a better way to filter out a potential boyfriend or girlfriend? A person who is not down with your weirdness is not a match for you, anyways.

Don’t Get Wasted.

Nerves WILL get in the way during a first date, but these feelings need to be embraced and dealt with (soberly). It’s easy to fall into the cycle of drinks after drinks and bars after bars during the course of a date—be aware of your limit, and know when to call it quits. You will be thankful later!

Bills, Bills, Bills.

The minute that check arrives on the first date can turn into a critical plot point. To some, whoever grabs the bill is a big deal, and to others it’s not. There are individuals who prefer to cover their own costs, while others believe it's customary for the one who planned the date to pay the full bill. Define your personal morals on this subject before you start dating. Standards in mind will keep you at ease during the (possibly) awkward payment exchange.

Besides, remember that a date may involve multiple locations and several bills. Whatever happens, consider keeping an open mind—especially on a first date that is going great. Nobody is perfect, and if you enjoyed your time up until that very moment, think about cutting him or her some slack. If the second date equally disappoints, there is solid ground to make a decision.

Don’t immediately jump on social media.

With a couple clicks and downloads—cell phones now serve up a 24-7 singles bar. Also on the menu is easy-access to ALL social media profiles of people we just met…it only takes a few minutes of minimal detective work. This urge to check-up on someone after a first date seems harmless, but in the end, it can leave you in a low place—often feeling terrible. As hard as it is to resist, take a step back from any social media and allow the details of a person to unveil naturally. Getting to know a person slowly is far more fulfilling than overdosing on countless statuses and photos.

Man/Woman Up.

After meeting someone, if you’re just not that into them…say something. Women and men who actively date are sometimes afraid to be honest and upfront; so they continue the texting game, which only teases the whole situation.

Nothing is more immature than pretending to like someone when you don’t—you're preying on their genuine hopes and dreams. Letting a person know that you are not romantically interested in him or her does NOT imply that they will, in turn, get angry and hate you. A friendship after the end of a long-term relationship can get icky, but in the early stages of dating, you are really just spending time with a person and getting to know them; if intimacy doesn’t spark, who says friendship won’t? It’s never a bad idea to suggest it…or don’t, bottom-line—don’t lead someone on—you wouldn’t wish it upon yourself.

Avoid A Battle of Communication.

In modern times, new rules have been fabricated for “following-up” after a first date. A risky game of who will message who first develops, which is really just a power struggle. Falling into this pattern is pointless and creates a cloud of unwanted stress. Don’t abuse communication to gain the upper hand in a relationship! Avoiding this is simple—if you had a good time with someone, what is so wrong with letting them know? Nothing! Anyhow, if you do decide to be the first one to reach out, keep the memo short and sweet. Sending a slew of messages after a first date does not reflect well—it’s just plain annoying.

Never lose focus.

Couple Looking At Sunset

Coming full circle—the relationship you have with yourself is more important than anything else. It’s amazingly easy to become completely consumed by a new boyfriend or girlfriend; setting your private life, goals, family, and friendships on the side line. This is dangerous foreground for a toxic companionship—one that is built on a constant need for one another, and no space to be your own person.

As you dive into a blossoming romance and navigating the world of modern dating etiquette, never lose sight of yourself and what’s fundamental for you to live your best life.


Erin Riley

About the author

Hi, I'm Erin,

A 20-something free-spirited goofball who loves yoga, vintage clothes, Fleetwood Mac, and DIY experiments. Born and raised in Southern California, currently exploring the East Coast in search for enchanted gardens, urban treasures, and inspiring humans.

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