I always find it amazing when the notion of etiquette gets brought up in conversations, especially dating etiquette - how many women are either totally all for it, or jump on the bandwagon of feminism as some sort of excuse for basic manners.
In all honestly, bad etiquette is not some sort of feminist statement. It's not that men no longer need to be polite because we are 'equal'. It's because it's simply good manners and shows a man has been well brought up if he knows how to treat a woman.
Now I'm not saying women need to become women of the 1950's and sit back while our man is the powerful figure in our relationships. We all have our own careers, dreams and aspirations - and that is absolutely how it should be. But by appreciating a man is trying to cherish us should not something to be taken lightly.
Allowing a man to cherish and nurture you sends a powerful message that he should respect you and that you're a woman worth being present in his life.
So what are the basic rules of etiquette today and how do you not appear needy, whilst letting him feel empowered?
If he initiates he pays
Ok, so if he's chosen where to take you, and has picked a delicious wine and initiated the evening. It's fair that he pays for it. This is especially important on the early dates where he will be keen to make an impression.
It is always polite to offer to pay half but if he's a true gentleman he will not allow you to, especially not on the first few dates. The gesture of you offering however, will always be appreciated by the man. Further down the line, when you get to know each other more you can get a feel for his upbringing and expectations you can decide how you would like to continue.
Now if you feel slightly guilty for letting him pay bear in mind a lot of men take a great deal of pride in those three words "I'll get this". Let him lead and be the man and in doing so you are sending a signal that you are a woman he should value and cherish. He won't think you're after his money, he'll truthfully will be expecting nothing less.
Besides, if you're really getting on famously you can always suggest a night cap after dinner.
Don't order the most expensive thing on the menu
It's not really considered very polite if, on an early date, you order the lobster followed by dessert and accompanied throughout the evening with endless cocktails. Ideally you should just order something you will enjoy and that you will feel comfortable eating. Often the spaghetti can be tricky too as you'll need to look demure mid-mouthful. Try to avoid the most expensive and most fiddly things to eat.
Don't be too late
I know we love to be 'fashionably late' at times and whilst this may be OK (within reason) for a large social gathering. It really is not the done thing for a dinner date. Show your respect by being punctual to least within ten minutes. If you're running late it's polite to let him know.
DON'T DOMINATE THE DATE
You may have had the most stressful week at work and feel like talking about it to get it off your chest, but in all honestly guys don't care. Don't talk about yourself too much. Don't talk about your previous boyfriends, your favourite meals, your gym routine and which classes you did and didn't attend this week. Men love to talk about themselves - they love to puff up their wings and impress you so let them. Take a lot of interest in him and ask him all about what makes him tick instead.
FOr the men:
When texting to arrange before a date make sure you SPELL properly
One for the men. I can't tell you how many women are instantly turned off if a man doesn't quite get the difference between 'their' and 'they're', 'to' or 'too' or spell words incorrectly. It doesn't bode well in our minds as we want to think of you as powerful and sexy, but if you can't spell you just look a bit.. well not.
Also, don't use any words such as 'sweetie, honey, babe'. Please only use the full first name at least until you become more familiar with each other (well actually don't ever use the word babe please). Don't abbreviate words either. Never use BTW, OMG or worse still.. WTF. Oh dear... just horrendous.
Tell her you're really looking forward to seeing her before the date, and thereafter how much you enjoyed the evening. Just being polite is going to be your best bet.
Be courteous at various touchpoints
So when she arrives, it's always polite to greet her by offering to take her coat - and when she leaves helping her put her coat back on. If you have to go up stairs try to walk behind her (unless she's wearing a very short skirt or dress), and in front of her walking down them. If you decide to walk anywhere keep her out of harms way and take the outside of the pavement. I'm sure most of these are common sense but they are always good reminders.
Don't order her meal for her
Women are all for letting a man take the lead every now and then but actually order what she would like to eat and drink is impolite. It sends the message that you don't care to know about her and what she likes and assumes she will go along with what you 'think' she would like. It will not be appreciated.
If she's indecisive and you suggest certain things it's OK to help her out. But going to the waiter and deciding whether you will both be drinking red or white (and ordering it) along with her three course meal is not cool.
If she's fussy be gracious
If she orders a burger without the bread and a G&T with only the zest of lemon and not a slice, then don't roll your eyes at her. Also don't comment on what she eats or how much. Never say things like 'wow you have a good appetite' because even if she does enjoy her food and readily admits it. It doesn't make a woman feel feminine and if she thinks you consider her that way, she will probably be slightly disappointed.