Essential etiquette

When it comes to dating someone for the first time it can be quite a nerve racking experience. The potential anxiety and anticipation can render most of us into a cocktail of mismatched personalities. Knowing some or all of the essential etiquette of dating will help prevent awkward situations as well as earn you some substantial ‘brownie points’. Take some pressure off yourself by learning these simple yet powerful etiquette that can determine the success or failure of the relationship. Fine-tune  

The essential etiquette of dating may vary with person to person, or from culture to culture, however they are often common sense and universally ingrained into our behavior.

Here are the essential etiquette that are sure to keep the date running smoothly and make a lasting impression.

Note: These etiquette are categorized: Some pertain to men, women or both. Common sense should prevail in all circumstances.  

1. Appearances

Our appearances can communicate a lot others. How we dress, hold ourselves, our hygiene etc. can have a huge bearing on how people perceive us. Always be mindful of your appearances before you go out on a date. Despite how superficial it may be, the reality of the situation is that most people make judgements and assumptions on the type of person we are from our appearances whether we like it or not.

Essential Etiquette

Both: Be hygienically clean by taking a shower or bath prior to your date. Wear cologne/perfume/deodorant if necessary. Make sure the clothes you wear are clean, ironed and suit the occasion. Other areas to keep in mind are our teeth, nails, and body odor. Look clean and presentable.

Men: Cleanly shaved or a well-kept look is far better than looking like a caveman (especially on the first date). Hair should be groomed, shoes clean (and polished), and breath clean.

Women: Not all men prefer women to cake on the makeup, in fact most men prefer women with light natural makeup so that they know what their date truly looks like. The outfit you choose should be appropriate to the situation, wearing anything that is too revealing may give off the wrong signals so should be best avoided until later on in the relationship.


  • If you are the one organizing the date, dress appropriately and communicate that as early as possible to your date to avoid possible inconveniences.
  • Wear clothes that reflect who you are and you feel comfortable and good in, that way there is one less thing to worry about during the date.
  • Add some trimmings or accoutrements (necklace, earrings, tie, watch etc.) to add a bit of your own touch to the outfit, it can make a huge impact on your overall appearance.

2. Be on Time. Be Fashionably Early

Punctuality is not just a virtue it is an essential etiquette of dating. Being ‘fashionably late’ merely suggests you have no respect for the other person’s time or efforts. If you are a believer of being ‘fashionably late’ to impress or suggest importance, just ask yourself how you would feel if you were the person waiting instead. On the other hand, if you are genuinely late due to unforeseen circumstances then that can be easily forgiven, just don’t make it a habit of being late.

Essential Etiquette

Both: Always aim to be ‘fashionably early’ to show that you care and respect the other person. Even if it’s 5 minutes early it is a great way to show that you are reliable.

Both: If you cannot make the date don’t stand them up. At the very least let the other person know and post-pone the date as early as possible. They are far more likely to forgive you and see you again if you reschedule than if you just stood them up.

Both: If you know you are going to be late for a date always let the other person know as soon as possible. You never know what they might have planned for you that could be time sensitive i.e. reservation, movie etc.


  • It’s all about managing expectations. You would rather overestimate your lateness rather than underestimate it, that way you can surprise them by being earlier than expected given the new arranged time.

3. Gallantry is Back

The days of chivalry are fading and with it gallantry towards women. Although it may seem outdated and even unnecessary, it has a remarkable appeal to women in making them feel important and special. For gallantry to be recognized it must be genuine and done without expectations to maximize the desired effect of winning her over.

Essential Etiquette

Being gallant simply means to be attentive to the women or should I say your date. This involves everything from the subtlest gestures to the more obvious acts of taking care of her. Here are some of the most common acts that gallant men should be aware of:

  • Opening the door for the lady
  • Helping the lady take her seat
  • Always walking on the side closest to the curb – As to protect her potentially from on-coming traffic
  • Escorting the lady to and from home – Whether it is to get a taxi or walking to her home, the lady’s safety is of utmost importance.
  • Standing when the woman stands up from her seat

The man’s prerogative is the safety and well-being of the woman. The man’s job is to lead the woman throughout the date from home to destination and finally back home. On the contrary, the woman is always the first to enter the destination (i.e. restaurant, theater etc.).

4. Be Present

Being anywhere but present within the date will lead to a painful demise of the date. There is nothing more disappointing than someone being constantly occupied or detached from our attention. What it sub-communicates to the other person is that they don’t matter or they are not worthy of our attention. If there was no chemistry or interest previously then there is no real point going on the date in the first place.

Essential Etiquette

Both: Always put your focus on the other person because the very purpose of the date is to get to know one another and enjoy each others’ company. Alternatively, if the date is going downhill and you want to leave you can:

  • Wait for an opportunity to politely leave whilst thanking them for their time
  • Subtly implant the idea that you need to leave soon
  • Be tactful and direct about ending the date
  • Stick till the end
  • Try turn the situation around and make the most of it

The goal is to leave without causing too much awkwardness and minimizing hard feelings.

Both: Put your phone in your pocket and refrain from texting or taking calls unless it is an emergency. If you do need to take a call or respond to a message apologize and let your date know that you need to reply.


  • People have all sorts of reasons to behave the way they do during dates (i.e. nerves, mood swings, external events etc.) This doesn’t necessarily reflect on their true selves so it is best to be patient and give them an opportunity to be themselves around you. Remember it takes time to get to truly know someone.
  • Do your best to maintain ‘natural’ eye contact with the other person – avoid staring (70% eye contact is ideal). Not only does it show you are interested and focused on them, it subconsciously creates more attraction.

The Essential Etiquette 5-8 continues in part 2.

It is important to keep in mind that these essential etiquette are not a one-size-fits-all approach to behaving during a date. Use common where possible instead of relying on traditional time-less etiquette.

All the Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right
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