Old-timey dating rules get a bad rap for good reason. Overall, they tend to propagate silly, non-feminist notions about finding love: “Wait for him to ask you out. A lady never makes the first move.” “Follow the three-day rule: Don’t contact your date until three whole days have passed.”
But the truth is, not all of the advice that dating columnists foisted on singles back in the day was bad. Read a handful of these “rules” (clearly not the ones mentioned above), and you might just find a juicy little nugget of wisdom that can be applied to your dating life.
Below, we talk to four dating coaches about what old-school dating expectations are worth bringing back today.
1. Practice chivalry.
Let’s all commit to being more chivalrous and mannerly while dating: Open the door for each other, don’t talk over one another, text after the date to make sure the other person got home safely, always call when you say you will.
Given how lackadaisical people tend to be in the Tinder era, these small but impressive moves will set you apart from the masses.
“Don’t skimp on the chivalrous behaviors, which not only make a good impression but [make] someone feel special and wooed,” said Samantha Burns, dating coach and author of “Breaking Up & Bouncing Back.”
“Step up your courting game!” she said. “Chivalry never goes out of style. Also, as you grow comfortable with your partner, you can get lazy in love, so it’s important to start with your best foot forward and ideally try to maintain this courteous behavior over the course of your relationship.”
2. Ask someone out on a real date instead of suggesting something vague like “hanging out.”
Legitimize your intentions by asking the person out on an actual date. Yup, a full-on date, where you plan the night out in detail and ― depending on your comfort levels with each other ― maybe even offer to pick your date up, said Jenny Apple, a matchmaker in Los Angeles.
“Obviously it’s OK if they prefer to meet, but have a genuine game plan in advance and let them know you’ve thought things through,” she said. “Being a gentleman ― or woman― is making sure you treat everyone around you with care and consideration, and especially your date.”
3. Pick up the phone and call your date.
Americans send and receive five times as many texts as phone calls each day, according to a survey from International Smartphone Mobility. It’s easy to see why you’d prefer to text while dating: With texts, you have a better chance of avoiding awkward lulls in conversation and you can take your time to dash off something witty and writerly.
But texting isn’t quite the same as a full-on conversation. Calling offers you a chance to really connect with the person before you meet IRL.
“A modern-day edit to this rule would be to text first and find out when someone’s available to talk,” she added. “That shows you have respect for the person’s schedule and you’ll avoid a frustrating game of phone tag.”
4. Let the mystery and sexual tension build up before you jump into bed.
OK, OK, hear us out on this one: While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with hot-and-heavy first-date sex, there’s also something to be said for letting the sexual tension build up — that small graze across their back on the walk to your car, the silly sexual innuendo, and hopefully, some fireworks during first-time sex.
“Sometimes when you jump into bed, you miss all the foreplay and romance that is an important part of the experience,” said Fay Goldman, the founder of New York City-based matchmaker group Meaningful Connections. “Play a little hard to get; it makes the person want you more, which is actually better if this is going to be a long-term relationship. You need some time to fantasize with your brain.”
5. Don’t introduce this person to your friends until you’re serious.
Don’t force your friends to endure another awkward hangout with a random person they’ll never meet again. Bring the person around only once you’re sure you want to continue dating them, which, according to Burns, means you’ve spent intentional time together learning about each other’s values, hobbies and goals, and have a sense of what you’re both looking for.
“After that point, it’s valuable to get your bestie’s feedback,” she said. “It’s important to have our friends vet our potential partners, since they can sometimes pick up on red flags when we’re blinded by love due to all of the dopamine and oxytocin that get us excited and attached to someone very quickly.”
Bottom line? Your friends care about you and are probably invested in your dating prospects, but don’t burn them out!
6. Dress up for the occasion.
When dressing, stay clear of yoga pants, cargo shorts or any other schlubby clothing items that suggest “IDGAF about this date.” There’s no need to go out and buy a whole new look, but a little sartorial effort goes a long way.
“Always dress to impress and make a memorable sexy first impression,” Seltzer said. “Dressing up says to your date that you care and they’ll definitely take notice.”
7. Fill awkward silences with questions about your date — and definitely don’t spend the whole time talking about yourself.
You’d be surprised how many people spend the majority of their dates monopolizing the conversation and never really stopping to ask questions about the person across from them. To be a successful dater, you need to be a good conversationalist, which means that instead of sharing your entire life story, try to listen more than you speak.
“Ask your date meaningful, open-ended questions so that you can explore their core values, such as ‘What are your favorite ways to unwind?’ or ‘Tell me about your family,’” Burns said. “Listen with the intent to find out what matters most to your date, rather than being focused on your own response.”
She points out that this might require you to be more present and attuned during dinner, but believe us: The payoff ― a potential relationship with someone who becomes your favorite person ever ― is well worth the effort.