Is Old-Fashioned Dating Cool Again?

I see posts and blogs on an almost daily basis that relate to dating and relationships, but few come as close to the mark as Kate Bailey’s post, “10 Old Fashioned Dating Habits We Should Make Cool Again.” In addition to the tips offered from Bailey’s post, I’d like to add my own suggestions too.

1. Coming to the door to pick someone up.

I think we’ve all had it with the incredibly unromantic “here” text, and meeting up always seems to be more casual and platonic than the alternative. Of course, meeting someone from online or any circumstance like that would probably be the exception to this rule, but generally: the 30 seconds it takes to get out of a car or cab and knock on the door makes a huge difference.

Every new relationship is a new opportunity to put our best foot forward. Meeting someone at their own front door is simply courteous—and certainly gets you brownie points with the parents or roommates. And what better way to show off a nice outfit than by walking up to the door?

2. Trying to dress really nicely for a date.

“Nicely” means different things for different people, so I think it’s just a matter of putting effort into how you put yourself together to go out with someone. It’s not about wearing suits and petticoats again, but just realizing that, whether or not we like to accept it, appearance does count for something, and we should do our best to make sure that our appearance says something about us, in whatever way we’d like it to.

This is a first impression—make a good one! Women usually put a lot of time and effort into picking clothes and hairstyles; for the guys, show that you appreciate her by looking your best as well. Make sure each of you knows the plans for the date so no one shows up in heels or a suit to a beach picnic. I was brought up believing that “one can never be overdressed,” but suitability is always a factor.

3. Bringing flowers or other tokens of affection to the first date.

Now, many lucky ladies (and some men) I know get this regularly, and in fact, I have myself as well, but only ever with people I’d been dating for a while. I think there’s something to be said for bringing flowers to the door on your first date. It’s become uncool because it’s forward and it’s a gesture that confirms their interest, but we should definitely get past that idea and worry more about how we’re going to let someone know we really do care and appreciate that they want to spend time with us.

I think this might be a little over the top, but moderation is the key. Does she like daisies? Bring her a few. Have you just returned from a trip? Give her a small souvenir. I’ve certainly never turned down a bottle of wine or chocolates! If she lives with others, think of it as a house gift—another simple courtesy.

4. Going dancing that’s not grinding on a grimy club floor.

Whatever happened to this? Dancing for the sake of dancing, like fun, not essentially sex on a dance floor dancing. What’s a better way to literally shake off nerves than seeing them bust a really dorky move on a dance floor? And the art of slow dancing has generally been lost, though I’ve been one to do it in my living room with my slightly coerced significant other, and I’ll tell you he’s said on numerous occasions it ended up being one of the most romantic nights we had together.

Dancing is a fun activity that can get rid of some of those first date jitters. In my area, there are multiple outlets for all sorts of dancing—ballroom, swing, and English country dancing are just some of the options. Often a dance lesson is offered before the actual dance, so no prior knowledge is necessary. It might make a good story to tell the grandkids!

5. Straightforwardly asking someone out and not calling it “hanging out.”

Or, as is very popular these days, “talking.” “Oh, we’re just… talking.” As in, seeing one another and speaking frequently as to get to know each other? So… dating? We’ve found these really convenient ways to skirt around the issue of having to put our hearts on the line, but honestly, it just ends up being messy and confusing for all parties involved. There’s no need to go back to the idea of courting or anything, unless you want to, but simply being direct about whether or not you’d like to go on a date with someone is a truly lost art, one that really shouldn’t be.

I’ve addressed this issue before and I still think it’s a huge problem in our society at large. Asking a woman on a date seems to be a lost art, as does taking “no” for an answer gracefully. If a man asks a woman on a date and makes plans for the date, there can be no confusion as to his intentions. “Hanging out” and “talking” are what I do with all of my platonic friends. If a man is thinking of initiating a romantic relationship, blurry lines have no place and will ultimately result in a lot of hurt feelings.

6. Additionally, being clear about when you’re “going steady.”

Oh, the awkward, “so… are we… you know… what are we?” talk. Classic. We should go back to asking one another if the other person would like to “go steady” or something. There’s something about asking them if they’d like to rather than assuming that you are or aren’t anything that’s just very cute, in my opinion.

There’s very little more I’d add to this, other than if you’ve gone on a few dates and one of the parties is not interested—end the relationship! It doesn’t matter if you’re dating or going steady. This advice is especially for the ladies. You are not doing the guy any favors by prolonging the relationship just to be nice. Don’t prolong something that isn’t meant to be. It will not end well.

7. Romantic gestures like writing poems.

Writing poems may not be for you, I know mine would look something like “Roses are red, violets are blue, I hate poetry but I love you.” I literally just made that up thank you please quote me when you inevitably post that gem on Tumblr. But seriously, like a handwritten letter in the mail or just surprising them with something you made even if it looks like the macaroni necklace you made when you were 5 is cute just because you tried and were thinking of them.

Truthfully, poems really aren’t my thing. I do appreciate letters (as in, handwritten snail mail letters) and musical serenades though. We all appreciate thoughtful gifts, especially ones that show that you’re attuned to the other’s likes and dislikes.

8. Turning electronics off and just being with one another.

I’m not sure there is anything worse than the person who picks up their phone and starts staring at it in the middle of dinner, or at any point while you’re together and having a conversation. I’m not anti-technology here (hello, I work for the Internet) but I am saying that there comes a time to turn it off and disconnect and remember what actually matters. People.

This goes for any human interaction. Being constantly distracted by our smartphones is the best way to show how little we really care for the people we’re with. There is a time and a place for electronics, but they certainly don’t belong on a date.

9. The general concept of asking permission for things.

It used to be principle for people to say: oh, when can I see you? Or, when could I call you? Rather than just assuming they can at any point. But I think that old concept could be applied to our modern world by just assuming that, unless told otherwise, you should ask permission to you know, touch them anywhere, take them out, call them at a certain time, etc. Once you’re in a relationship these things usually don’t require asking anymore, but some do, especially when it comes to sexuality. I once knew a person who said that they asked permission before so much as touching a girl’s thigh, and that always stuck with me.

Relating back to #8, some good guidelines to set down early in a relationship would be good times to talk—Is it okay to call during work hours? How late is too late? What you’re really asking is for a good time to have the other’s undivided attention. Asking permission about simple things not only opens lines of communication, but serves to make everyone comfortable and happy.

10. Not assuming sex is to be had at any point in time.

Now, I’m certainly not saying it should go back to being a taboo that’s unspoken of, but we certainly shouldn’t expect it from someone on the third date, on the first date, because they’re being flirty, because you know they’re into you, or even because they agreed to go out with you. A date does not have to be a precursor to sex, and you shouldn’t be disappointed if it isn’t because you should never assume that it will be. It depends on the person you’re with and what they want to do.

Catholic teaching is very clear about premarital sex. As Catholics we believe that sex is meant for marriage. There should never be expectations that go against either party’s morals. If someone constantly makes you uncomfortable about your religious beliefs, get rid of him or her—if not for your own soul, but for those of your future children’s souls.

A lot of these tips seem straightforward and common sense, but maybe it’s a good time to examine your past behavior on dates and step up your game!

What else are we missing from this list? Add your own old-fashioned dating tips in the comments below.

-Catherine Frank

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