Dating Etiquette for Ladies: The Rules Of Modern Dating

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Dating Etiquette for Ladies

Thanks to our parents and grandparents wanting more for us, the latest generations of Gen Z and Millennials are refusing to conform to anything – including dating rules. While this newfound freedom in the world of dating is exciting, it’s also extremely confusing. 

Online dating apps have added a whole new facet to dating and love. In a time where it’s easy to ghost and be ghosted, and in-person connections are getting harder and harder to formulate, we’re all just trying to figure out how to handle this new dating era. 

Dating etiquette for ladies doesn’t have to be a list of rules that make the modern woman cringe. What to do when the tired old dating rules just no longer apply? Keep some guidelines, but adapt to the new times. 

General dating etiquette

I like to think of these less as dating rules and more of just general “how to be a kind human being” rules. Basically, they work in many social situations but are imperative to leading a fuller dating life. 

General dating etiquette

Be on time

This is an especially important rule on first dates. You don’t want to leave your dating waiting on you. Being late, especially in the beginning, gives off an indifferent vibe. That’s not how you want to start the interaction. 

Ask questions

Ladies, I know I’m not the only one. We’ve all been on dates where we left, and thought, he/she didn’t ask me a single question about myself. Don’t be the person monologuing on a first date. 

Ask questions about the person you’re sharing this time with. How else will you find out if you want to see them again? However, it’s not an interrogation. There should be a give and take. 

Be considerate

This may seem obvious when you are with anyone, but be considerate to the other person by giving them your attention. Making eye contact is important to show someone you are attentive to their needs and what they’re saying. 

This also means being considerate about where you meet your date or what activities you will do together. For example, if I know my date is a vegetarian, I’m not going to take him to a steakhouse. 

Ditch your phone

My personal dating pet peeve, or really a general social interaction pet peeve, is people who are more interested in their screen than the present moment. If you know you tend to be super connected, do your dating life a favor and silence notifications while you’re out with someone new. 

Try to really be present in the interaction you’re having. If you aren’t, how will you know if you want to see this person again?

First Date Etiquette 

First date in a coffee shop
First date in a coffee shop.

The first date is your chance to make a first impression. With online dating apps, the first date is often the first time you’re meeting someone in person. It can be exciting but also a nerve-wracking experience.

Be open-minded

You meet someone on an online dating app and after some back and forth banter, you both decide it’s time to meet up. Don’t go back through his/hers photos and over analyze them. Be ready, open, and willing to connect with the person in real life. 

Try to forget all the bad dating experiences you’ve had. While they’re great ways to learn and grow, psyching yourself out before your first date by rehashing every crazy, bad date you’ve been on in the past five years is no help to anyone. 

Don’t go in with any expectations other than having a nice time. This way you won’t put too much pressure on the outing. 

Be clear

While you don’t want to go on your first date planning a future wedding, you also need to know what you want from your dating experiences. 

Are you just out to have a good night? Are you looking for a casual hookup? Do you want a relationship?

There’s no way you will get what you want from your dating experiences if you haven’t defined just what that is. Don’t shy away from sharing what you’re looking for with your date. If you want a relationship, and they get scared off, then good riddance. It wasn’t meant to be. 

Be yourself

The woman laughs and covers her face.
The woman laughs and covers her face.

This is the time to see if you and the person you’re with connect. It’s not the time to desperately try to be the version of yourself that you think he/she will fall in love with. 

If your date isn’t into who you really are, then best to know right away. Let yourself laugh your normal laugh, get excited about nerdy things, or dance in your awkward way. To the right person, your many personality quirks will be a turn-on. 

Share without oversharing

This goes back to our general etiquette rule of asking questions. So that the situation doesn’t turn into a full-blown interrogation, you will have to add commentary about yourself. 

Don’t jump into the first date with all of your baggage. We all have it and it doesn’t necessarily need to be hidden. However, blurting out every crazy ex you’ve ever had or how much financial debt you may be in on the first date is probably a bad idea. 

If a heavy topic comes up, and it feels natural to dive into it, go with it. But, your date is not your therapist, so stay away from unloading on them. If your date starts getting into topics you aren’t comfortable discussing yet, let them know too.  

Outdated dating rules

These are the rules that no longer work. And with the divorce rate at what it is, who knows if they ever worked. But here is some antiquated advice we’ve probably all heard but should never listen to. 

The 3-day rule

3-Day Rule in Dating

The 3-day rule states that you shouldn’t reach out to your date for at least three days after having met with them. The idea behind this rule was that you didn’t seem too eager. Show interest without being too interested was the philosophy, I suppose. 

This rule sounds like a game to me, not like a rule to follow in how you should be treating someone you may have developed an interest in. 

If you had a great time with your date and you want to reach out right after, go ahead. If your life is super chaotic and time gets away from you and you reach out ten days later because you’re interested but busy, that’s fine too. th

It goes both ways. Don’t get freaked out by an “I had a nice time message” received the day after your date. And don’t panic if you don’t hear from someone until a week later. 

No kissing on the first date

I’ve heard some version of this rule from anyone who has ever tried to offer up some sort of dating advice. Another version might be waiting until the *insert irrelevant number* date to have sex. I absolutely hate any version of this rule. 

If you’ve connected with someone on the first date and a kiss feels right, by all means, pucker those lips. If not, then no way. We all know when there is that extra spark that makes us want to physically connect with someone. Listen to your gut. 

On the other hand, if you know you get attached easily when physical encounters are involved, be wary of what you both are expecting from the exchange. Maintaining your well-being and balance should be at the forefront of your dating experiences. 

He should pay

A couple on a date paying their restaurant costs
A couple on a date paying their restaurant bill.

It’s absolutely crazy to think that in the modern-day, the man still needs to foot the bill. Sure, it’s really nice when anyone invites you out to a meal with them. But this shouldn’t be the expectation only because of their gender. 

Show up to any date expecting to split the bill. This takes away the expectation for him to pay and also leaves you feeling that you don’t owe your date anything. 

Order daintily

This one is a recipe for disaster. Having to hide your eating habits is a slippery slope. Since when did a healthy appetite become a turnoff?

Order whatever you want on your date. Eat as much of it as your stomach craves. If this makes your date uncomfortable, then better to know now that they have a warped sense of what is sexy. 

Create your own rules

The modern woman is a complex, multifaceted being. It would be impossible for all of our dating rules to be the same. Different personalities and desires need a different set of rules.

Know what you’re looking for

I can’t stress this point enough. You will never get what you want from your dating life if you can’t identify what exactly it is that you’re looking for. 

Knowing where you are emotionally is essential. Are you coming out of a relationship and still needing time to heal? Or are you ready to dive headfirst into commitment?

Identify what you want and need. Then, don’t settle for less. 

Don’t play games 

My problem with dating rules is that they tend to feel like we’re all playing some game. We aren’t. We’re trying to have genuine interactions and connections with other people. 

Treat your dating prospects like human beings, not pawns. Be straightforward and speak your mind. Be open to receiving feedback. But, please, ditch the antiquated dating rules.

Couple on a romantic road trip
Couple on a romantic road trip.

Follow general etiquette rules

Basically, treat your date like a human being. We’ve all heard the timeless adage, “treat others how you want to be treated.” That is one life rule that I’m down to follow. 

Respecting your date doesn’t mean you have to spend the rest of your lives together. But it is the most pleasant way to pass the time you two will share and to get the best idea of if you want to see them again. 

Be kind to yourself and your companions in your dating experiences. Remember, dating can be hard for everyone. 

Learn from the past

Bad dating experiences can make us all bitter and pessimistic. Try not to let yourself sink into a dating funk.

Think about your past experiences in dating. What has gone well? What could be improved? Take those bad dating experiences and turn them into your guide for a better dating future. 

If we keep repeating the same mistakes, we cannot expect to have different end results. Do what works for you (journal, list, vision board, etc.) and use your reflections to have better dating experiences ahead.  

You’re in charge

Today, dating is a completely different world than it was even just five years ago. We have to adapt to the times. That means making your own set of dating rules and guidelines. 

Deep down we all know what we really want from our dating experience. So, dig deep and get in touch with that. Use your reflections to create some rules that will work for your individual needs. 

Dating is hard. It can also be really fun and exciting. Just like everything else in life, you’re bound to have your ups and downs in the dating world. Go with the ebbs and flows and enjoy the process.  

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Sarah is a writer at While she enjoys writing on a variety of topics, her favorite is dating and relationships. She’s curious about dating trends and how they continuously evolve. When dating gets hard, she likes to find humor and reason in the situations that she affronts. Through a combination of personal experience and research, Sarah loves connecting with readers through her pieces on their shared dating experiences.