Kate Bailey wrote a great article on Thought Catalog recently that got me to think about the state of affairs of modern dating and, more specifically, the rapid decline of gentlemen and gentlemanly gestures. If you’re unaware of the recent phenomenon of the rooftop breakup please check it out. But this is the kind of thing I want to talk about. Where have all the men gone? In her article, Kate mentions going to the door to pick someone up instead of texting them “here,” and actually dressing nicely for this date. Now one’s definition of “nice” can vary greatly from person to person and she explains that it can be as simple as putting effort into one’s appearance. Great. That’s a good start.
But the fact that these once routine or expected practices have become so far removed from the modern dating scene is rather sad for us 20-somethings having to deal with it. I’ve put effort into dates with girls who have scoffed at me and asked, “why are you trying so hard?” As if the act of putting effort into something was somehow wrong. I didn’t really understand it at first but after a lot of thinking about the current state of affairs of my generation I think I’ve got some reasons why we act the way we do. And more importantly, something we can do to remedy the situation.
1. Call her.
You’d think this would be pretty simple. I know people are busy and we don’t always have time for long talks on the phone and texts are so much easier. But texts keep us so far removed. It’s so easy to send a text and then go about your life. You’re not stuck waiting for the other person to answer as you hear the monotonous ringing in your ear and start to sweat slightly while thinking of something to say. Texting gives you a break to sit back and think about your response. You can’t do that on the phone so it forces, and teaches, you to be quick on your feet and actively think about what’s going on in the conversation.
2. Take her out.
Not to Starbucks, not to the movies, not to the bar. Take. Her. Out. If you live in a city there are tons of things to go do and see. On first dates this can be tricky and coffee is usually a safe bet, but after you’ve gone on one or two or three dates or something and you know a little bit about each other then it’s time to go out. If she’s a history buff go to a museum; if she likes cooking then take a cooking class together; if she like wine then check out a vineyard or a wine tasting event. It can be simple but make a show of it, show her you listen and you’re interested and don’t just want to stare at a screen while she’s sitting silently next to you.
3. Turn your phone off.
I’m absolutely guilty of checking my phone on a date. It’s awful, it’s rude, it’s inconsiderate, it’s unnecessary. And I don’t mean silence your phone, actually turn it off. It’s a great gesture that shows the other person that your mind is focused on them and not on their newsfeed or twitter account.
4. Be upfront.
If you don’t know what you want then say that, and say it early. With that said don’t show up to your first date and say, “I want three kids, I want a house in the ‘burbs, I can’t wait to get fat.” Too much honesty initially can be a problem. But if you don’t want a girlfriend or boyfriend then say so, don’t string along someone else and waste their time on you if you’re unwilling or not ready to have a real relationship.
5. Have some class.
Lastly, have some class. Pull your pants up, take that hat off, iron your shirt, look her in the eye, open the door (to both buildings and your car), and act like you know what you’re doing. It’s all the things your parents told you that you didn’t listen to because you thought you knew better. My dad once told me, “everyone deserves to be treated with respect until they prove otherwise,” and it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
Here’s a bonus tip for you, ladies (or men, for that matter)
6. Don’t put up with nonsense.
People will be treated the way they want to be. If you want to be treated well then demand it. If you let someone walk all over you, call you drunk at 3am begging to come over and you oblige them, then that’s what you’re going to get. If you refuse to accept that kind of behavior and insist that your significant other open your doors, pull out your chair, hold your hand, kiss you goodnight, whatever. Then that’s what you’ll get from that person, and if they’re not willing to give you what you want – move on.