Dating in the modern age isn’t like the courting days of generations past. We’re no longer set up by parents or mutual friends (though that may still occasionally happen).
Instead, more and more people are turning to Internet dating sites or apps to meet potential mates. Sure, there are still chance meetings at the grocery store or karaoke bar, but the technology and attitudes of today have turned the dating world upside down.
With so many different ways to meet people, do dating etiquette rules still even exist? And if not, how do we even begin to navigate the 21st century dating world in a way that is truly authentic?
There are plenty of advice columnists out there, but today there’s no real and reliable rule book or “Emily Post’s Official Guide to Dating.” Nevertheless, there still seem to be several unwritten “rules” in the dating scene today.
But are these really even “rules”? If you’re playing by these so-called rules, are you really letting your date get to know you? Or do these rules dictate a somewhat inauthentic way of expressing our emotions to one another?
Truth is, we each live by our own set of individual rules. What’s most important is expressing yourself authentically…but how?
When it comes to paying for a date—especially a first date—the general rule throughout history was the gentleman pays for the lady. As time wore on, it became more popular for dates to “go Dutch” or split the cost of the meal or bowling shoes or what-have-you.
But nowadays, as people go on lots and lots of first dates, it puts men in an awkward mental (and financial) spot, wondering things like…
Truth be told, honesty and clear communication are the best way to solve this age-old issue. Yes, talking about money is awkward, especially when you’re first getting to know each other.
If you want or expect to split the tab—go ahead and talk about it! Getting it out of the way will make things much easier for both of you. And if expensive dates are genuinely your style—go for it. Just be sure you express your enjoyment with your date and don’t focus on the cost of the date if you choose to treat.
Don’t forget that some “cheap dates” can also be super fun! Try a trip to the local zoo or a picnic by the lake. A “cheap” date could be the best night of your life—dating is really about meeting and getting to know the other person, so it’s a great way to be sure the check is the last thing in your mind. Plus, casual dates ensure those nice expensive dinners and concerts later on are more special, instead of just the norm.
Whichever type of date you prefer, just be honest about it. Set up a reasonable date that most represents your authentic self. And hey, the financial cost of your date doesn’t equate to the value of the experience. Above all, simply enjoy the person you’re with and see where it goes.
Comedian Aziz Ansari recently polled his fans to determine how most people let their date know they’re not interested in going out again. The majority of people answered that they simply stop texting or emailing and hope the other person gets the point. Ouch.
“Breaking it off” is a completely common scenario when dating. In fact, all of your first dates except one—the one who ends up being your lifelong partner—will lead to a breakup, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself to stay together if it’s not working out! Either party may want to break it off, but if they never communicate their feelings, the end of the relationship is left hanging, or worse, they end up dragging it out for months, only half-engaged the entire time.
Chances are if you’ve ever had someone call you or speak to you face to face and simply explain why your relationship wasn’t working out, you most likely felt relief. Sure, confronting someone to break it off may feel uncomfortable and awkward, but it’s the right thing to do.
So empower yourself to be direct and honest with your feelings. It’s far worse to be dishonest and stay with someone just because you want to avoid confrontation or to go the old “flake out, avoid texts” route. Respect the other person and tell them it isn’t working for you—and let them know your feelings while you’re having the conversation. Remember, the other person may not be feeling chemistry either. Clarity and honesty instead of avoidance should definitely be the rule and not the exception.
The main point? When it comes to modern romance, the current so-called “rules” could be debated for hours. Looking inward at yourself and analyzing how you tend to act and feel when dating can be the best way to start defining your own set of rules. Above all, express yourself authentically through clear communication at all times while in any stage of the dating process—from your first date to your last!
About the Author
Monica is the Admissions Coordinator and Marketing Specialist at the Wright Graduate University. As the admissions coordinator and head of marketing for WGU, Monica oversees recruiting, student admissions, customer services and marketing efforts.
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.
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