Your Mom was right: manners matter. Especially when it comes to dating. True gentlemen are few and far between these days, and a guy who knows the finer points of etiquette will stand out in a crowd. To help you out, we’ve provided a short refresher course on dating manners. But remember—you have to understand and embrace the principles behind good manners—using them to impress will only get you so far.
First and Foremost
Manners are about making others feel comfortable and at ease—sometimes at the expense of your own comfort. There’s almost nowhere this applies more than on a date. Manners go a long way to establishing trust with someone new, and assuring her you’re someone who’s worth her time.
Remember the Small Courtesies
There’s no need to throw your best coat over a mud puddle so she can walk daintily across. But do pay attention to the small stuff. Open the door for her. Allow her to order first. If she drops something, pick it up for her. If it’s raining, open an umbrella for her. Yes, there may be some women out there who don’t appreciate these gestures. But many (we’re going to go out on a limb and say most) of them do.
Don’t just practice courtesy with your date. Say please, thank you and excuse me to everyone, whenever warranted—including bartenders and waiters. Hold the door open for anyone who needs it. Tip generously. We guarantee you she’ll notice.
Practice Table Manners
Of course you know not to chew with your mouth open. But do you always remember to keep your elbows off the table? To swallow and take a sip of water before you speak? To wait until both of you are served before you eat? How about never slurping your soup, or never allowing a used utensil to touch the table? (Used utensils should be rested against your plate). If you’re not sure your table manners are up to snuff, invest in a book on etiquette, and practice at home until the rules becomes second nature.
You are on a date to enjoy the company of a special person. Getting to know her should be your only focus. This means listening more than you talk, and investing in the conversation. If she doesn’t happen to be much of a conversationalist, or she’s flat-out boring, too bad. A gentleman never lets on that he’s bored or aggravated. He does his best to steer the conversation in a positive direction, even as he makes a mental note to not ever date her again.
Focusing also means never answering your phone, checking your email or (gulp) responding to text messages while you’re with her, ESPECIALLY while she is speaking. If you do get an urgent call that you must respond to, wait until the phone stops ringing, and excuse yourself when there is a break in the conversation. Go into the bathroom or outside to call the person back. Make appropriate apologies to your date before and after the fact.
Be Complimentary (But Don’t Overdo It)
A thoughtful, sincere compliment can make a girl’s day. Find something—anything—you can sincerely compliment about her outfit or her beauty. Be as specific as you can without saying anything that can be construed as sexual. “You look amazing in that dress” is good manners. “You’ve got an awesome body,” is rude. Even if she’s the most stunning woman you’ve ever seen, and you can’t understand how you got her to go out with you, play it cool. Don’t gush, don’t tell her a million times that she’s pretty, and don’t stare at her like she’s the last coke in the desert.
It’s simpler than it sounds-- be sincere, be thoughtful, put her first and leave your inner caveman at home (or better yet, out in the woods somewhere), and you’ll be way ahead of the dating game.