I have been asked how a shy and old fashioned girl should approach the minefield of dating. The question came from someone who is very new to dating and has said she feels left behind by her friends who are far more experienced. Those who are experienced daters might also enjoy reflecting on how dating can be in the very early days and perhaps add in a few old habits to replace some of the newer habits that aren’t getting you what you want. If however you are all loved up and happy, this answer is not for you!
In this day and age, dating is often referred to as romantic roulette. It is a careful balancing game of either acting demure yet approachable so that the old-fashioned man can ride in on his metaphorical white horse sweeping the girl off her feet or instead of taking charge of the situation living my the philosophy of “she who dares wins” and making the moves herself. I loved Jane Austen growing up and thought some fun, practical yet tongue in cheek advice may make you smile today! The aim of this article is to actually by way of satire point out that expectations, kill the passion and sparks of a first date so although you can of course have some guidelines, read between the lines of this article and realise to have faith in yourself, your ability to navigate the situation is what is actually going to get through the dating minefield!
The first thing to note is that the impulsive modern female can send most decent boys running scared leaving only the men who want to rack you up as a notch on their bedpost so subtlety is the name of the game; a flirtatious glance, a subtle approach and the exchange of business cards put the ball firmly in the boy’s court to phone you. Waiting might be hard but for a modern-day Jane Austen type calling the guy first is a big no-no. Stop checking the phone and busy yourself up.
The best way to become noticed is to choose your company carefully. Preferably downsize the group to just two or three people. Master the art of looking popular yet relaxed, catch the eye of the gentleman you wish to pursue and hold his gaze and smile sweetly. In a perfect world, the guy should approach you but in the modern world so many females approach men that they have become lazy.
If you feel able to approach him directly, strike up a natural conversation and avoid chat up lines at all costs. Keep the conversation short and sweet, make an excuse to leave and if they have not asked for your number then it is perfectly acceptable to say “I’m sorry I have to go and join my friends now. It’ll be fun to meet up sometime. Would you like to swap numbers/Instagram etc?” Just choose one method of contact or you will look desperate. If he takes your number and does not call, chalk this up to experience and move on. If however he gives you his number yet doesn’t take yours, call once leaving a message and leave the rest up to him.
If this goes swimmingly then you should by now have discussed your first date. The correct etiquette is that whoever asked for the date takes care of the booking, the venue, the time and the dress code.
More often than not the invitor will choose dinner and drinks so make sure you dress appropriately for the restaurant chosen but there is nothing to stop you being more adventurous on a first date. No matter how fancy the restaurant, power hair-dos and bold make-up are not the order of the day. A girl next door natural look is more appropriate and enchanting. Jane Austen girls are confident in themselves, and don’t need to audition for the cast of TOWIE on a first date! As for dress code, go for elegant and sophisticated showing minimal skin but use textures such as silk or chiffon to bring out your best qualities. Remember to focus on the upper half of your body including accessorising as this will be on display more than the rest of you.
Being five minutes late is acceptable but any more looks pretty arrogant. On arrival, the invitor should already be there and to lighten the mood go straight in breaking the ice with a peck on the cheek. Gone are the days where you should expect your date to bring flowers, but who knows if they read this they may just choose to return to the old-fashioned chivalrous days!
Once you are seated and have ordered, keep your conversation nice and fluffy. Jane Austen girls avoid talking about marriage, children, work difficulties and the like remembering at all times that he is your date and not your therapist. A successful date will include an engaging conversation on art, culture, life and hobbies. Remember men like to advertise their success as a form of status, even if you are a career woman resist the urge to reply in kind again keeping the conversation light. If the conversation feels stilted, use this time to ask the man questions that you know you have in common, do not be put off if he doesn’t return the questions just use this opportunity to give your own point-of-view to avoid the conversation becoming too one-sided.
If you are not interested in your date then going Dutch is the universal sign to keep things in the friends’ zone. If however you are interested in a second date, the correct etiquette is for the invitor to pay the bill. During this moment set up a silent smiling eye look with a genuine thank you followed up by an additional thank you by text or e-mail the next day.
For those of you playing it cool, you should end your first date there however in this modern-day and age many dates end up in the one night stand. If you like your date, etiquette dictates that no matter how attracted you are to him you should at least hold out until the third date. However as a consenting adult if you choose to go back to his place or vice versa, do be prepared that this may be interpreted as a no strings attached encounter.
If a one night stand is what you’ve decided to do, remember that any dark alley gropery is not lady-like and also don’t force taxi drivers to endure any indiscretions. Once home remember it’s never too late to change your mind but if you don’t then reduce your expectations for a long-term prospect although never say never.
After the act, it is polite to get to know your conquest under the guise of shedding a little more meaning and memorability to the encounter however if this is obviously not appropriate then steal yourself away, make your excuses, depart with a good reason and hold your head up high as you leave. If he has come back to yours, the polite thing to do is offer him breakfast however, if he declines, let him do the chasing and consider that an end to the encounter.
If however you have made it passed the third date and it is inevitable that both of you wish to take the budding relationship to the next level it is perfectly acceptable after the third date to act on your feelings. Make sure you look amazing for the date, apply some scent to your pulse points and ensure your underwear is stylish and sophisticated. In these modern times, it is perfectly acceptable to pack a toothbrush, clean underwear and even condoms in your handbag.
Prior to having sex, etiquette dictates that communication is paramount and this means that you should feel free enough to speak about contraception, sexual health, sexual preferences and your feelings.
Remember at all times that it is perfectly acceptable to have a change of heart but if this is not the case keep up the humour quotient and expect that any first-time sexual relationship may be clumsy and/or mind-blowing, so manage your expectations. Having already built rapport with your potential boyfriend, any need to do a mad dash in the morning should not be present in either of you however good or bad the previous night went. It is a crucial part of the dating process to spend the first morning after together even if either of you are slightly out of your comfort zones. This can be as simple as relaxing over breakfast and the morning papers or going out to grab an early brunch. Some couples prefer to spend the whole day together however it is also acceptable to manufacture a prior engagement to give yourself some space to decide what you really want. The overall message here is to be good company, avoid being clingy and definitely do not overstay your welcome. It is common practice for the man to chase the next day and at all costs do not be the first to contact once you’ve left.
Obviously there are many variations of the above model and this was specific advice to those very new to dating but the take-home message is to be easy to be with, fun to talk to, have self-belief and most of all be authentic to your character (if that’s Jane Austen so be it – but if that’s Samantha Jones from Sex In The City that’s awesome too)
My point is that it is fine to be hesitant even in the days where casual relationships are more commonplace and accepted, it is Ok to want true love, to want to hold out for the gentlemen of yesteryear. The key is to not judge those who do it differently and to not accept their judgement of you.