If my email inbox is any indicator, it’s clear that modern men and women are clueless about how to behave on a first date. Men are convinced that all women are crazy, while women lament that all men are jerks.
Since neither of those statements are true, perhaps both genders need to stop blaming each other and start improving their own behavior instead. After all, if you want to attract a quality person, you need to behave like a quality person.
During a recent radio interview, I said off-the-cuff that men should date a woman like it’s 1940. No texting, no swearing, no “meet-ya-there,” no going Dutch, no hats on backward. My tirade led me an amusingly vintage yet timelessly valuable 1946 video on dating etiquette. Although filmed for teenagers going to a prom, the advice is equally beneficial to adults trying to navigate the “grown up” dating world.
So check out these 1940s-inspired dating tips that might bring a little timeless sophistication to your dating M.O.
- Look dignified for your date. Men, that means pulling up your pants all the way, leaving your skin-tight Affliction T-shirt in your dresser, shaving or trimming your beard and removing your hat and sunglasses. Women, that means no plunging necklines or half-shirts and go easy on the make-up. If your mother didn’t tell you to not dress like a player or a prostitute, I’m telling you now. There are classier ways to show off that great body you’ve worked so hard for.
- Use your manners. Act like a gentleman or a lady. Don’t text your friends in your date’s company. Don’t flirt with the server. Don’t ogle other women. Don’t apply lipstick at the dinner table. Don’t forget to say please and thank you. Men, feel free to help a woman with her jacket, pull out her chair and place her order to the server (or at least let her order first). It’s not cheesy, it’s chivalrous.
- Be natural. There’s no need to dazzle your date with fun facts or fascinating conversation. Sharing a funny story about your little sister or crazy parents doesn’t make you uncool, it makes you sound like a real person.
- Money matters. Men, this one is for you. Pay for the first few dates. After that, you can begin to graciously accept contribution from your date. If she doesn’t offer to contribute by the third date—or doesn’t thank you for paying—find someone else to spend your money on.
- Leave your baggage at home. Don’t talk about other partners. Ever. Your date wants to feel that she or he is special, not just the rebound from your last failed relationship.
- Clean your car. Men, this one’s also for you. Wash your car, inside and out, and then use it to pick up your date at her door and deliver her home. For extra points, show up at her door with flowers. If she doesn’t break into a smile and swoon at this sweet but forgotten tradition, there’s something wrong with her.
- Get over yourself. Don’t have too high an opinion of yourself or act like your date is “lucky” to be with you. There’s no reason to talk about how women find you attractive or how men are intimidated by your brilliance. We get it. You’re awesome. Just know that there’s a fine line between sexy self-confidence and sickening overconfidence.
- Sexual modesty. Ladies, this one is for you. And you’re not going to like it. The fact is, a quality man will have a low opinion of a woman who gives her body to a man she barely knows. You can justify or rationalize it any way you want by talking about gender equality and double-standards, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s assuming a lot about your character by your sexual behaviour. Hang on to your feminine mystique. If he’s a guy you want to keep, keep your clothes on at least until the relationship is a committed and exclusive one.