The Lost Art Of Dating Etiquette

I was at work, minding my business when it happened. I was sent to the back room to load up our beverage station for that evenings function. I had noticed him looking at me while I was helping to set up but didn’t think anything of it. And then, while I was in the back room he had passed by several times before finally striking up a conversation with me. I was trying my best to ignore him without trying to be overtly rude. He would ask random questions and I would try to give the shortest answer possible hoping he would get the hint and walk away. But alas, it was to no avail. He told me he was the singer in a heavy metal band which finally made sense with all of his tattoos that seemed to cover his entire body, the giant rings/plugs in both ears that you could probably stick a plunger through and his unkept beard. Not to mention he was skinnier than me. Not my jam. (If it looks like I could take you in a fight and/or snap you in half, it’s not gonna work out between us boo.)

We were making small talk about my work hours or something to that effect when he asked, “So, how does your boyfriend feel about that?” I could feel my heartbeat start to speed up because I knew what was coming next. If I lied and said I had a boyfriend I could easily get out of this really awkward situation. If I told the truth and said I was single, he was going to ask me out and then I’d be stuck having to make up reasons as to why I don’t want to date him.

I don’t get asked out on dates by strangers very often. The last time this happened was last year, in September in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. He had introduced himself. Complimented my looks (smart man!) and asked if I would be interested in going on a date. (He actually used the ‘D’ word which was impressive.) I simply said I was single but not available and he took it like a gentleman and graciously walked away. This time, however was very different.

Once I gave him my answer, that I didn’t have a boyfriend (only an ex husband) he proceeded to tell me that he himself had a kid and described his ex as “crazy.” (Oh boy! Where do I sign up!?) Followed by, “Would you be interested in going out or something?” To which I nervously replied something to the effect of, “Oh, you mean like, going out somewhere? Get to know each other?”

“Yeah, like a movie or dinner or whatever,” as he shrugged his shoulders.

*insert eye roll over the word “whatever” and the shoulder shrugging. Great, another guy without a plan.

“How ‘bout I give you my number and if you’re interested you can give me a call?” As he proceeded to hand me his number that he had clearly written out earlier in black sharpie marker on a scrap piece of paper. “Or maybe I can grab your number off you before I leave tonight.”

“Oh, umm, ok. Umm thanks.” He finally walks away. I feel cheap and horrible because I don’t have any intention of actually calling him. Aaaannnnd….SCENE!

I went about doing my job for the rest of the evening, purposely avoiding running into this guy. I would see him standing there, watching me while I worked which I found kind of creepy, especially because I didn’t even know this guy. (If we’re dating, engaged or married, watch me all you want. I’m cool with that. But a complete stranger staring at you is creepy!) Plus, I realized by the end of the evening, I didn’t even know this guys name! He didn’t even introduce himself. I had his number and knew his ex was a crazy person but he was nameless. At least “cereal aisle guy” told me his name. I can’t remember what it was but that’s not the point.

I successfully avoided “nameless, creepy, metal guy” for the rest of the evening by finding things to do in another part of the hotel. I felt so stupid but I really didn’t want to run into him and have to explain that I didn’t actually want his number.

The one thing that I will say about him that was positive from this experience and “cereal aisle guy”, they were both very direct. They both made it clear that this would in fact be a date because they both made it clear that they were interested in me on that level. And that is very refreshing. Because trust me, I’ve experienced the opposite as well.

You know what I’m talking about ladies. When you’re not quite sure the guy is actually interested or just lonely or just wants to be friends. I can’t remember the last time I was on a real date because I honestly can’t tell if any of them were “actual” dates. I’ve experienced a little bit of everything. There was the guy years ago where I thought things were cool and then after not hearing from him for 2 weeks I get dumped…over Skype. Our families had even done thanksgiving together. Or there’s the guy I went to a few movies and dinners with and then I didn’t hear from him for months. He was different than the guys I usually go for which I thought would maybe make a difference. It was a big deal for me to even let my guard down and entertain the idea of liking him. Or how about the time I was with someone that still cried over the last girl they were with. He was emotional kryptonite. He was exhausting and depressing just to be around. What made it even more upsetting was that he was really, really good looking. Ugh! Get it together people!

I remember thinking after each time, this is why I don’t even bother anymore. Building my walls back up higher and higher with each failed attempt. But this got me thinking (and back to my original point), if a guy never uses the ‘D’ word or even directly says he’s interested, do we even have a right to be upset in the first place if it doesn’t “work out” or they walk away?? If a man pays for dinner or a movie does that make it a date? Maybe it’s our own fault for reading into something that isn’t there? Is being vague a guys way of avoiding being hurt or is it his way of keeping his options open? If the “relationship” in question was never actually defined, does that mean it didn’t exist? Can you even call it a break up? The whole back and forth guessing game is so exhausting. Whatever happened to dating etiquette?

The art of dating. Something that used to be held in high esteem many moons ago, has now I’m afraid, taken a sharp left straight down the toilet. In our grandparents day, it seems that things were much simpler. For example: Man sees woman. Man likes woman. Man approaches woman, introduces himself and asks for woman’s number and says something to the effect of, “Hello, my name is _______. Could I have your number? I’d like to call you sometime and take you on a date.” If the woman says yes, the man comes up with a plan as to what the date will entail before calling the woman to make said plans. (Also, we need to know what’s going on so we can pick the right outfit. We’re going to try on our entire closet before eventually buying something brand new. Being asked on a for real date!)

*side note: “Netflix and chill” doesn’t count as a plan for a first date.

So, having said all of that, here’s my list of dating etiquette that I’ve adopted based on personal experience and examples set by previous generations.

1. Introduce yourself. Don’t be like “nameless creepy metal guy.”

2. When asking someone out, be direct and honest. State your intentions. (Use the ‘D’ word!)

3. Have a plan. We’re nervous as it is so it’s nice to know what to expect. Especially for a first date. A man that knows how to make a plan and assert leadership is so much more attractive!

4. Be honest throughout the whole process so you’re both on the same page at all times. At least give the other person the curtesy of saying what’s on your mind. If you’re crazy about them, tell them. If it’s not working for you, tell them! Taking off for weeks or months at a time is unacceptable. It is however a great way to get yourself really single again! Nobody is that “busy.”

5. Let go of the people from your past. I do believe that men and women can be “just friends”, absolutely. BUT, if you dated (or ‘whatever’d’ at one point), it’s time to cut the cord. If you’re still hanging on to a relationship from your past, that’s gonna be a problem and you need to make a choice.

6. Boys play games. Men are intentional.

Our grandparents seemed to have the right idea about a lot of things. They built things that seemed to last. Cars. Appliances. Relationships. They valued and took the time to care and to cherish what they had. Perhaps we’ve finally gotten ourselves into such a mess doing it our own way that it’s about time we start taking notes from the previous generation. They clearly knew something we don’t.