Dating Etiquette

The explosion of dating apps is both a blessing and a curse. One the one hand, we’re now no longer fucked if we don’t find someone at school or university. No longer reduced to keeping your fingers crossed for an office romance, you now have access to unlimited amounts of singles looking to mingle at your fingertips.

However, increased choice and decreased consequences has also led to a decline in standards to behaviour. From ghosting to benching to hyping, new terms are invented every week to describe people’s shitty actions.

So to raise the tone, I’ve decided to do my bit for the dating scene, and put together a quick guide to dating etiquette.

dating etiquette


As a general rule of thumb, a message on a dating site should be something asking them about something on their profile in order to begin a conversation. On an app, either the same, but a blanket opener is fine.

Behind a computer screen, it can be tempting for some to do something you would never do in real life, such as insult that person or send them an unwanted picture of your penis. Do not do this. If you don’t like the look of someone’s profile, just move on. If someone has expressed political opinions you dislike, just move on rather than starting a fight with them about it. And nothing graphic or sexual unless it has been specifically requested.

First Dates

A first date should last roughly 2 hours. Drinks, coffee, or food is usually a good shout. If you don’t like the look of the person enough to commit to 2 hours in their company, don’t go.

Sometimes, you go on a date, and the person isn’t what you expected. Maybe they don’t look like their pictures, or you’re just not feeling it. But even if they overdid the photoshop, they’re still a human being who deserves to be treated with respect. At least sit out the date and make conversation, and you never know, they might grow on you or you could at least make a friend. They may have put themselves out there to meet you, so at least be good company and don’t walk out halfway through.

Who Pays?

I’m a traditionalist at heart and like a man who can take care of me, however the nature of modern dating means we end up going on a lot of first dates, most of whom we won’t see again. So I think it’s fair that going Dutch should be the default, at least for the first few dates.

If you’re a man and you want to pay then fine. However, if you pay the other party is still under no obligation to kiss you, sleep with you, or see you again. Do not, as one guy did, ask if your date can pay you back £3.50 for the coffee so you can use it on another date.

Casual Dating

Not everyone is dating for love and that’s fine, but remember that a lot of people are so try not to stomp on hearts.

If you’re just looking for casual dating, be upfront from the start. If you’re on a dating site, list your intentions as such. If you’re on an app, tell people you’re not looking for anything too serious. Or if you’re not completely averse to it and want to leave your options open, let them know first-second date so they know what kind of encounter this is going to be, and they can take it or leave it. Do not act as if you want something serious, then do a 180 once you’ve slept together.

Of course, this may not always work, and someone could say they’re OK with casual dating then get attached. If this is the case, just be honest and let them down gently.

Stopping Dating Someone

At any point in the dating process, we can realise that someone is not for us. And that’s fine. But deal with it respectfully.

If you’re literally just been on one date, or possibly 2-3 dates, and don’t want to see them again, in my opinion it’s fine to just leave it rather than explain that you don’t want to see them again (although if they ask you straight up if you want to meet again just say no). However, if you’re actually seeing each other, you’ve slept together or done some other stuff, or maybe you just really connected and said you’d see the again, the person deserves some form of “break-up”. No matter how tempting it is, do not simply “ghost” or “fizzle them off”. Just let them know, in the nicest possible way, that you don’t see it going anywhere. Think of it like ripping off a plaster.


What would be your dating etiquette recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Dating Etiquette

  1. I think this is a great list on the whole! I totally disagree that a first date should be 2 hours though. Why waste that much time with someone if you realize you’d never want to see them again? I know you were upset about the Ikea guy, he was definitely a jerk though and isn’t it better you didn’t waste more time hanging out with a jerk? Maybe it’s an NYC thing – time is money here so no one ever wants to waste it. I think a 40 minute date is PLENTY with a guy I’m not really feeling! Just my 2 cents. But yes, respect is paramount and lame lies are shitty.


    1. On a good first date, you won’t even notice the time fly. Two hours is not always advisable (or possible if meeting straight after work). A minimum of one our should be enough to work out whether you want to see each other again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I think even if it was just coffee you’d probably stay for 2 hours or so if you were really enjoying yourself. Unless you met for a date during your lunch hour..

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Just stay out of politeness? But if it was coffee you could probably leave after an hour or so as peope don’t tend to get more than one coffee- that’s the beauty of coffee dates!

      I wouldn’t say I was upset about the IKEA guy, I thought he was rude, but on the plus side I got go home earlier!


  2. I really like the idea of this. Its like a go to guide for dating! Dating has become so complicated these days its all insults or naughty pics! Bring it back old school i say. Really enjoyed this x


  3. Loved this. The ‘who’s paying’ situation is sometimes difficult, but I prefer doing two things – either pay for whatever I’ve consumed or say ‘next time it’s on me’. I think that’s fair 😀


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