Maybe you’ve just gotten out of a relationship. Or maybe it’s just been awhile since you’ve been on a date. Either way, getting back in the dating scene after spending some time on the bench can feel daunting, especially when it’s far from clear what the current standards are and protocol is.
We’re in a unique time in courtship where things are changing rapidly and it can feel hard to keep up. Take shifting gender dynamics into account, the reality that so many more kinds of relationships are increasingly more socially sanctioned, casual sex is far more out in the open, and digital communication is now part of the courtship process: navigating dating is a great deal more complex than it was thirty years ago.
Luckily, it’s not as complicated as you think. And most of it just boils down to understanding social dynamics and knowing how to communicate. While there are no exact “rules” to dating, here are a few guidelines to prime you as you get your modern dating sealegs:
Who should pay for dates?
While traditionally it was expected for the gentleman to pick up the tab, and there are many women today who enjoy being treated on a date, the reality is that this is no longer true across the board. Many women prefer to go dutch, and some women might even take offense if the man tries to pick up the tab. This is where it’s essential to communicate and make sure you’re on the same page. If you’re a gentleman with a more traditional preference and you’d like to pick up the tab, I recommend saying something to the effect of: “I’d love to treat you. Is that ok with you?” This gives the lady an opportunity to communicate what her preference is as well. Be clear, be upfront, and remember the golden rule of the early stages of dating: no one owes anyone anything beyond honesty and respect.
When should you follow up after a date?
There really is no such thing as “too soon” to follow up with someone to let them know you had fun and thank them for their time. If you’d like to see your date again, I’d recommend following up once you’re gotten home to check in and also make sure they got home alright. If you weren’t feeling the chemistry, it might be courteous to wait until the next day or so to let them know, as an immediate “I don’t see this going anywhere” text can feel like an Uber review.
How much time should you allow between dates?
In terms of arranging a subsequent date, sooner rather than later is preferable. There’s nothing stopping you from making plans for a second date while still on the first date. If, on the first date you discover that you both love modern art, and you happen to know an an exhibit opening next week, by all means make that plan then and there. Otherwise, arranging for a next day within a few days is a great way to make your interest known and keep the momentum going. While this is not a must, I recommend allowing about a week between dates at first so that you can pace yourselves and get to know each other over time.
So use these guidelines as an outline, but don’t overthink it. The important thing is to have fun getting to know someone new, and to communicate what is and isn’t working for you. Now, go fish!