The Modern Girl’s Guide to Manners

Being a gracious date means more than saying please and thank you. The finer points of dating etiquette ahead.

By Amanda May

hat’s one of the quickest ways to derail a potentially great relationship? Forgetting common courtesies when out on a date. Just as you’d run from a guy who spent the whole evening taking calls on his cell phone or insulting your line of work, your date will quickly write off a woman who asks crazy personal questions or complains about the restaurant he picked out. Read on to discover the top etiquette faux pas women make—and how to avoid them.

Do show your gratitude
It seems like a no-brainer to say thank you after someone treats you to dinner or to a movie, but when you’ve got butterflies, it’s surprisingly easy to space out
Sidestep sensitive topics on the first date.
on this essential task. “I don’t expect a woman to pay if I ask her out,” says Aram, a 32-year-old legal recruiter from Florida. “But I do expect a simple thank you at the end of the night or even an email the next day.” Do one better and try to reciprocate, even in a small way. “I once had a girl insist we go elsewhere for dessert so it could be her treat,” adds Aram. “It showed me just how classy she was, plus it ended up prolonging a very nice date.”

Don’t bring up sticky subjects
“I went out once with a woman who was a teacher,” says Brad, 40, a Boston-based attorney. “She had this holier-than-thou attitude about what she did and was very insulting about my profession.” After listening to a rant about how teaching was a more noble career than anything else, Brad was ready to call the date quits. “It was clear that she would never respect what I did,” he says. “There’s no way we could have a future together.” When you’re just getting to know someone, be extra careful about expressing strong opinions. You don’t want to launch into a tirade about how you can’t stand Republicans, say, only to discover that you’re sitting across from McCain’s number-one fan. Better bet: Sidestep sensitive topics until you have a few outings under your belt.

Don’t trash your ex
As a general rule of thumb, it’s wise to avoid ex talk on the first few dates. And it’s a definite no-no to trash any former flames. “I went out with a woman after she broke up with her boyfriend—a guy I also knew,” continues Aram. “She spent the whole night making fun of him.” Aram was so appalled by her insensitivity that he never asked her out again. “Plus, it kept running through my head that she could one day be sitting across from another guy, making fun of me,” he adds. Remember what your mother said: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Do put the cell on vibrate
If you’re addicted to answering your cell every time it rings, leave it at home.
Trashing former flames is a no-no.
“I went on a blind date with a girl who spent the entire night on her cell, planning a ski trip with her friends,” complains Jeff, 35, an attorney at a New York law firm. Text-messaging friends is equally off limits. If you have to answer calls or pages for work, explain to your date beforehand that you might need to take a few work calls throughout the evening and always apologize for any interruptions.

Don’t overstay your welcome
On a truly great date, the hours fly by like minutes. But be careful to pick up on clues that it’s time to call it a night. “After a particularly good date near my apartment, I invited this woman up to listen to some music we had been discussing at dinner,” says Michael, 25, a chef from Pennsylvania. “After splitting a bottle of wine, she said she was too drunk to leave and that she had to stay over.” While some guys might jump at that opportunity, Michael was a gentleman. He wound up sleeping on his couch—and having to continue the date the next morning. “A great date turned into a very annoying overnight guest,” he says. “It was a real turn-off to have to deal with a hung-over woman in my apartment the next morning.” If a guy is checking his watch, talking about how busy his morning is going to be, or starting to yawn, it’s clearly time to head home. In fact, it’s generally best to pack it in early, leaving you both wanting more. Namely, another date.

Amanda May has written for Redbook and other publications.

Want to hear the other side of the story, Read The Modern Guy's Guide To Manners.

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