Dating in the 21st century can be vexing. The old social norms are quickly becoming passé. First dates aren’t formal affairs. Communication is more digital than personal. A computer algorithm can even decide whom you should meet. Nevertheless, don’t give in to ennui. Approach this new challenge with enthusiasm using these etiquette tips from some of our members who are experts in the field.
With the digital age taking over, online dating is no longer taboo. Advocates say it helps expedite the connection by eliminating the guesswork. Instead of small talk, you have a pocket full of conversation topics ready to discuss. While you’re getting to know the person, keep the communication level consistent. If they send a text or contact you through the dating app, respond in kind. If they take the next step and leave a voice message, pick up the phone and call them back. Manners, dears.
The anatomy of the first date has changed as well. JLNO Active Melissa Aymami McGrane recommended, “Coffee or drinks, but never a meal. Short, no pressure first encounters where you can have an easy escape if it doesn’t work out.” JLNO Active Meredith Beers added, “If it goes well then dinner can be added on, but if there is no chemistry or if it isn’t going well then at the end of a glass of wine it’s easy to say, ‘good meeting you’ and end the date.”
What hasn’t changed is how to act on a first date. While technology may have brought you together, it has no place on your date. Do not text, tweet or otherwise use your smartphone while on a date. Take this time to get to know the other person. You can go a step further and turn your phone off so you don’t have any vibrating interruptions. Bad behavior on a first date is a deal-breaker, so be on your best and expect theirs.
Of course it is still possible to meet someone without using technology. Enlist the aid of your most powerful allies – your friends. Meeting the friend of a friend makes good sense, since they can vouch for the person’s attributes and personality. You can also take advantage of the vibrant New Orleans cultural scene to meet like-minded revelers. JLNO Active Lauren Broussard suggested, “… going to social gatherings around the city – fundraisers, festivals, etc. We live in a city with so many events each weekend. Get out there and talk to people!”
It’s bound to happen at some point – you meet someone you like at work. No surprise, as it is your second home. But before you take that extra-long lunch break together, make sure you’re aware of your company’s policy on these relationships. Be mindful of your office time socializing. Above all, remain professional.
If it’s not a good match, how do you end it? First off, it’s not okay to “ghost” on someone – suddenly ceasing all communication hoping they’ll get the hint. Give the same amount of respect to the other person you would expect. If you’ve only gone on a few dates, a simple ‘I don’t think this is working out’ message will do, but if you’ve been exclusive, this means a face-to-face meeting, not email, text or heaven forbid a Post-It Note. At the same time, know when to move on. Meredith said, “Some guys would wait several days (72 hours to a week sometimes!) to ask for a second date. In my mind, if you’re interested you ask as soon as you can, not a week later when you get around to it …”
As with any technological gadget, online dating has its perils. Anonymity can attract untrustworthy people looking to take advantage of others. Be your own advocate. Declare upfront if you’d prefer a casual or serious relationship. Discretely ensure you’re seeing a current picture by requesting their favorite pic from this past Christmas or the Pelican’s game they went to last weekend. Check out your prospect’s social media accounts and, yes, googling their name is both savvy and shrewd.
But beware the double-edged sword of online dating. JLNO Active Elexa Dixon, warned, “The easiest pitfall to online dating is the sense that there is always someone better who’s just a click away. Do NOT date this way.” Always make your date your primary focus, and don’t let the mere idea of another prospect distract you from getting to know them.
So log on, be yourself and go for it. I’ll leave you with a ringing endorsement for embracing this brave new world. Melissa beamed, “My husband and I met online, and here we are – eight years and two children later – living our happily ever after!”
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