The dating scene has changed many times. Once, gentlemen would leave notes with maids and servants asking permission to call on one of the single ladies of the house. Decades later, people would go on dates with a different person every weekend. Then, when they found someone they wanted to be more serious with, the two would “go steady.” Today, dating seems to have fallen into one of two extreme camps. On one hand, an hour long “date” at Starbucks can mean that two people are now in a relationship and not allowed to find anyone of the opposite sex attractive. On the other hand, there is the endless series of Tinder hookups filled with physical intimacy but not even a hint of emotional connection. Neither of these is a terribly healthy way to handle dating.
Modern dating extremes have led to many people feeling like “there are no good men out there” or “there are no good women out there.” In reality, those people still exist, they have simply gotten noticeably harder to recognize amidst a sea of dating apps and hookups. Thankfully, there is hope for modern dating, at least for those who are willing to take some advice from the past. Here are six old-school dating tips that will help your love life regardless of whether you are hoping to get a second date or just want to breathe some new life into a preexisting relationship.
Meet at the Door
A text saying “im outside u comin” is not romantic at all. Sadly, such messages, or just a pair of emoji, are a common way of announcing that you arrived at the restaurant, bar or park and are waiting for your date. Ditch this lazy habit and pick up your date instead. Walk up to his or her door and ring the doorbell. If your date lives in an apartment that requires a key or a keycard to enter the building, wait by the outside door so you can walk them to your car.
There may be times when picking up your date is impractical. No, driving five minutes out of the way is not impractical. Perhaps they are coming to your date straight from work. In such events, meet them at the entrance of the restaurant or cinema and walk them inside. It is such a little touch, but there is something far more romantic about actually walking into a place together instead of waving frantically to get their attention through a crowd. The exception to this rule could be if one person is running late or a restaurant is busy and you grab a table for you and your date. Be sure if you do this, however, that you let your date know where you are seated so they are not standing outside the door wondering where in the world you are hiding.
Ditch the Electronics
It may sound like returning to the Stone Age, but ditch the electronics on a date. Turn the ringer on the smartphone to silent, and put it in your pocket. Now keep it there all night. Force yourself to look your date in the eye. Presumably you find them at least modestly attractive so why not enjoy the view? Then, actually talk to your date instead of texting someone else, putting pictures of your meal on Instagram or comparing YouTube videos with your date. Talk instead about your interests and ask about their hobbies. Find out about their hopes and dreams, and listen to the funny stories they have about their troublemaker of a niece. Compare ridiculous childhood antics. Talk about the craziest thing you ever did. Share your favorite prank. Talk politics, sports, religion, favorite colors, architecture, travel plans, foods, work, family or why Peter Pan should totally have taught the crocodile to fly and ridden it around Neverland. The topic of conversation can be lighthearted, serious or downright ridiculous. What matters is that you talk and are your honest self. So long as your date is doing the same, the conversation, even if it revolves around why Santa Claus exists, is not a waste of time. If nothing else, crazy conversations usually make people laugh.
Make Yourself Clear
Modern dating is filled with maddening euphemisms that flee clarity and commitment like a roach dodging a shoe. No one is “dating” or “single.” Instead, people are “talking,” “hanging out,” “benching,” “monkeying,” “slaying” “stashing” or in a “situationship.” In short, no one knows whether they are dating or not. You might think you are in an exclusive relationship, but your date thinks you two are in a casual or open relationship. Your date thinks that they are on a date with you and that you are seriously interested in pursuing a romantic relationship, but you just wanted to welcome them back from Europe over a drink. Save both yourself and your date the stress of trying to ferret out where you both stand. Stop making them second guess and overanalyze every move you make and every word you say. If you want to go on a date, ask them to go on a date. If you really want to hang out as friends, ask if they can hang out as friends. Be clear on what you want and how you feel. It will save you both a lot of time and energy in the future.
Go Real Dancing
Even in a world of smartphones and dating apps, dancing is still seen as one of the hallmarks of romance. While some bemoan them as cliché, red roses, starry skies and slow dances are practically synonymous with romance in the popular mindset. Of those three classic markers of romance, however, dancing has practically died out. That does not mean, though, that dancing is not still a great activity to undertake with your partner.
If you are planning to go dancing with your partner and want it to be romantic, skip the bump and grind. Some people enjoy that sort of dancing, but there is no romance in, essentially, having sex with your clothes on in the middle of the dance floor. If you are unsure of how to dance with a partner to modern music in any other way, then do not go to a club. Instead, take dance lessons together or find a local dance group that specializes in a specific type of dance. USA Swing Dance has events and chapters all over the country for those that want a quick, upbeat and lighthearted dance. For those that want a bit more technical or structured dance, USA Dance, the national organization for social ballroom dance, holds lessons and dances across America. If you are interested in a form of dance that is seen as more passionate or intimate, look for local salsa and bachata groups. Whatever form of dance you choose, come with an open mind. Even if you look like fools, you and your partner will at least be able to laugh at each other and yourselves.
Make Plans in Person
“wat r u up to this sat?” “nothing. wanna hang out? :)” is a perfectly normal way for two people to make plans in the age of texting and smartphones. Such an exchange is perfectly fine for two friends who want to catch up over lunch or make plans to go surfing together. It is not, however, particularly romantic. One old-school dating habit that can make a big difference in your love life is to ask the other person on a date in person. Instead of sending a text and spending the rest of your day staring hopefully at the phone while you wait for a response or taking two hours to complete an exchange that would take five minutes by phone, ask your date out in person. If you are on one date and are angling for another, make plans with the other person at the end of the first date. If you are hoping for a first date, ask the other person next time you see them.
While asking the other person out in person is ideal, life sometimes gets in the way. In that case, ask them out over the phone through an actual phone call, not a text or social media message. Taking the time to focus in on your partner, instead of firing off a quick text while washing the dishes, means a lot in a day and age where everyone is constantly multitasking. Also, a phone call can turn into an intimate conversation far more easily than a pair of texts. Even if the discussion only consists of where to eat dinner after the movie, it saves you both from having to figure that out while standing awkwardly in the theater parking lot.
Show Common Courtesy
People have complained in recent years that manners have become a lost art. The people complaining are not just irritable old fogies either. While it is debatable if manners have been completely forgotten, there has been a decline in practices that were once considered simply common courtesy. Holding the door for a woman was once considered polite. Now, some people find it sexist. There is nothing misogynistic, however, about getting the door for your date. Frankly, whoever reaches the door first should hold it open for their date, regardless of their gender. Similarly, if you reach a door and see that an elderly person, woman with kids or parent with a stroller is leaving, step to the side and hold the door open so that they can leave before you enter. Wrangling children back into a building, pulling a stroller backwards to get out of your way or simply turning around for an elderly person is much harder on them than simply stepping aside is for you. It will not cost you more than a few seconds.
Being polite to those serving you is a common courtesy that has been somewhat forgotten as well. Whether it means thanking the hostess, saying ‘please’ to the waiter or speaking kindly to the cashier, too many people have taken the old adage “the customer is always right” to start treating the staff around them with condescending or ungrateful attitudes. It costs you nothing to be polite, and few people want to go on a second date with those who are rude to others. Frankly, however, politeness should be something you practice regardless of whether or not your date is present.
Modern dating does not have to be an endless litany of “swipe right, swipe left.” There are plenty of ways to improve your chances at getting a second date or to breathe some rekindled passion back into your existing relationship. One of the best ways is to take a look at how couples dated in the past. There is a reason that old fashioned tales of fine ladies and chivalrous knights are still found to be romantic. You do not have to don a suit of armor or a full length, renaissance dress, but show your partner some special courtesy, care and attention as a way to say “right now, the thing that matters the most is you.” It is such a low bar, but there is little more romantic than that.