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18 Dating Rules to Be a Good Date & Must-Know Toxic Habits to Avoid

Trying to find love can be both exciting and frustrating. So, that’s why you need to know the rules of dating. Once you do, you’ll easily find The One!

rules of dating

Dating rules are a little ‘love it or hate it.’ Few people actually sit on the fence on this one. Most either find dating thrilling and exciting or dread it and find the whole thing dramatic and confusing. 

What’s your take on it?

A lot of people detest dating. That might sound a little harsh, but for many, it’s full of mind games that they have no time to play. 

Play hard to get, don’t play hard to get, and wait three days before replying, there are so many rumors about what you should do, it’s just downright mind-fuddling! [Read: Banish these hugely false dating ideas from your mind!]

Don’t you wish it was possible to meet someone, decide you like them, skip the confusing part and jump straight to the part where you know where you stand and everything is great? 

On the other hand, some people really enjoy dating. In fact, they actively go out there and participate. If that’s your take, good for you. You’re obviously more patient than a lot of other people!

Admittedly, dating can be fun if you’re not too emotionally invested. That’s probably where a lot of people get it wrong. [Read: How to be better at dating and enjoy every step along the way]

However, there have to be dating rules in some ways, otherwise, everyone would offend everyone and cause chaos. But what are they? And how seriously do we need to take them?

If you want to have a successful date, you need to understand how to be a good date in all its subtleties.

It really can be the difference between a happy date and a bad one. [Read: 15 signs they’re not interested in a second date and you’re wasting time]

Why do we even need rules for dating?

Why do we even need rules of dating in the first place? Surely something that’s meant to be fun should be rule-free?

Well, they’re not actual rules. They’re more like unspoken guidelines that ensure decency and respect for the other person. It’s about being a good person and not wasting the other person’s time for the sake of it.

When you don’t have these rules, or at least guidelines, how are you supposed to know whether the person you’re going on a date with is actually decent or not? [Read: What does dating mean? All the things you should understand about what it is]

It’s how we measure whether or not a date went well, or whether the person you’re loosely dating is actually worth the long-haul or not.

For instance, if you go on several dates with someone and they’re always on their phone, you’re probably going to deduce they’re not the most suitable candidate for further dates. 

However, if we didn’t have these unspoken rules of dating in place, you might overlook them and continue to waste your time. [Read: How to start a new relationship perfectly]

Put simply, the rules of dating might not be set in stone, but they give us a point of reference. In the confusing world of dating, that’s pretty important!

How to be a good date and impress anyone

Everyone says the easiest way to find that special someone is by being yourself.

But is that really true? To a certain extent, it is. But not all the time. [Read: Best dating apps for a relationship – 4 hottest apps to try in 2022]

You do have expectations from a date and the person you’re meeting.

And the person you’re meeting has the same expectations too.

If by choosing to be yourself, you overlook the few things that really matter, the odds of pleasing your date may go downhill. [Read: Warning signs of a bad first date and red flags to look for]

What are your rules of dating?

It really comes down to common decency and being honest with one another. Far too many people assume the rules of dating means playing games and making the whole situation ten times more confusing than it really needs to be. 

When you break dating down to its most basic level, surely it’s just getting to know someone and deciding whether you would like to take things further or not. 

The dating part isn’t supposed to be serious or committed, it’s meant to be fun and flirtatious. [Read: Are you sabotaging your own happiness? 12 ways you could be ruining your life]

Perhaps that’s one of the biggest rules of dating, or at least it should be – no playing games.

Do you have your own personal rules of dating? Maybe you refuse to call first, maybe you wait an hour before replying to a text, maybe you never kiss on the first date, or you avoid being intimate for the first three or four dates. 

It’s personal on so many levels. Maybe everyone has their own set of dating rules they abide by to keep themselves sane! [Read: How to know if online dating is the right speed for you]

The best rule to have is to not take it too seriously and to go into the date with an open mind. Don’t be clingy or assume that you’ve met ‘the one.’ 

Just have fun. That’s the best way to approach dating, don’t you agree?

The 18 unspoken dating rules and dating etiquette everyone must follow

Yes, you should be yourself, but always remember the few things that really matter when it comes to being a good date. [Read: Best places to go on a first date]

These tips on being a perfect date are simple, but ones that are easily overlooked. Use them the next time you’re on a date, and both of you will have a better time that may lead to something even better.

1. Always be on time

Ah, this is a big one! If your date is always late, it’s disrespectful and not the best start. It’s normal to run late once and apologize for it. 

But if you’re dating someone and they’re always late or always coming up with excuses about the traffic and other creative explanations, it’s probably time to just put this one down to experience and move on. It’s not a cute quirk, it’s annoying. [Read: 34 Secrets to make someone like you and draw anyone in the first few minutes]

2. Put your phone away

Everyone knows this, but they don’t always practice it. Do you? Answering the phone and having a long conversation on it while watching your date play with their food may seem like fun, but it’s also something that’ll end the date midway. 

Don’t ever answer your phone on a date unless you really have to. And even if you do, end your phone conversation as soon as possible. [Read: How to get to know someone on a date]

Always be present at the moment. If you’re on a date and you’re on your phone constantly or you’re regularly checking it, you’re not paying attention to the person you’re with. 

Flip this around and consider how you would feel if the moment your date sat down, they took their phone out and put it beside them, checking their social media notifications every five seconds. You’d be annoyed, right?

Again, it’s down to respect. If they don’t find your company more absorbing than their phone, it’s never going to work. One of the biggest rules of dating is to keep your phone in your pocket until the date is over. [Read: Texting etiquette and 20 unwritten rules of flirty texts]

3. Don’t have an agenda

Don’t go on a date with a specific aim. Dating is supposed to be fun, and it’s not going to be free and easy if you have a final aim. It just puts pressure on the whole thing and neither of you is going to enjoy yourselves. 

Don’t go on a date expecting sex, and don’t go on a date expecting it to be the start of some grand love affair or the first step toward marriage.

 Just go into it hoping to have a great time and see where it goes from there. [Read: 18 signs your date really likes you on your first date]

4. Give them a chance

How many times have you heard “never judge a book by its cover?” This is a prime example. If this person isn’t your normal “type,” forget that and just give them a chance. 

If you’ve heard something about this person and you’re not sure what to think about it, again, give them a chance. 

Also, remember that some people find dating very nerve-wracking. Overlook a few nerves and allow them to feel comfortable enough to allow their true self to shine through. Just give them a chance! [Read: How to find love and learn to be open to what life has to offer]

5. Go somewhere you can talk

The single worst place you can choose for a date is a noisy environment where you can’t hear yourselves think, let alone talk. That means nightclubs and loud bars are a huge no-no. 

If you’re going to see a band, make sure there is plenty of time before and after for chatting. Consider meeting up beforehand for drinks, so you can fit in a little pre-gig chatting. 

One of the biggest rules of dating is that you actually have time to sit down and talk. That’s how you get to know one another! [Read: Top 50 amazing first date ideas to wow your date]

6. Don’t splash your date all over social media

Please don’t share with your followers that you’re about to go on a date and then update them afterward. If you really want to share the details, do so with your closest friends on your WhatsApp group, not all over Instagram and Facebook! 

7. If you don’t want what they want, tell them so

It’s vital that when you’re dating, you’re upfront and honest with whoever you’re seeing about what you want. 

This doesn’t mean sitting down on date one and telling them that you’re never going to get married or you’ve decided that having children just isn’t for you. [Read: 16 biggest signs you’re just not ready for a serious relationship yet]

However, it does mean letting them know if you’re really not up for a relationship right now, or you’re only looking for flirty fun. 

Don’t waste someone’s time by making them think that you’re ready for a relationship when it’s not even on your radar.

8. Don’t talk about exes

The worst thing you can do on a date is sit down and talk about your ex and why you split, or what was wrong with them. It’s even worse to sit down and talk about what was so right about your ex! [Read: How not to be boring and get people excited to talk about be around you]

Basically, let it go. It’s in the past and that’s where it needs to stay. Your date doesn’t need to hear about it. 

It makes you look like you’re not over it, and you would no doubt hate it if they did the same. Out of all the rules of dating, please stick to this one!

9. If you’re going to get physical, always be safe

If you decide to take things to an intimate level, always be safe. You’re not in a committed relationship. [Read: How to have safe sex in every single way possible]

You’ve not been checked out and you might be seeing other people at the same time. That means the two of you are potentially putting the other one at risk. Just be safe, it’s not hard to do!

10. Who’s going to pay?

This one is tricky. There are two ways to look at it.

First, the guy pays. He always does. [Read: Going Dutch on a date – 16 rules, tips, and how to decide to pay or split]

If you’re the woman on the date, thank your date for a wonderful time but don’t reach out for your wallet. Dating may be expensive, but that’s no excuse for a guy to treat a woman he may eventually go out with like she’s a friend. 

Paying for dinner is a small sign of appreciation a man has to display to thank the woman he’s with. If he can’t afford dinner, can he really afford to date you and go out with you on a regular basis?

Now, this is a controversial and touchy subject in dating etiquette, but a lot of people think it’s the right thing to do – both men and women. [Read: How to date a successful woman and not feel like less of a man]

On the other hand, some people have a different opinion. They think that you should just forget the “who should pay” deal and simply go with the flow. This is something that causes all manner of anxiety, but there’s really no need. 

They think there should be no rules – the guy doesn’t have to pay, the person who suggested the date doesn’t have to pay, and you don’t have to go halves. 

You just do whatever feels comfortable on the day. It’s nice to offer to go halves, but if you want to pay, go for it. If they want to pay and you’re fine with it, let them. [Read: 10 unfair but relevant dating rules we all have to live by

Which one is better for you? That’s all you need to decide.

11. Be a gentleman and a lady

If you’re the guy, be chivalrous and charming. Treat the woman you’re on a date with like a lady. She deserves all your respect and attention.

If you’re the girl, allow the man in your company to take the lead and make the decisions. Men love it when they feel like they’re in control of the situation. Help him feel more like a man and he’ll love you for it. [Read: 13 Types of men you shouldn’t date if you’re looking for true love]

12. Avoid one-line answers

It’s easy to answer all questions with monosyllables. But don’t do that. 

Both of you are on a date to get to know more about each other and figure out the compatibility. By answering all the questions put your way with one-liners, you’re making it a lot harder for your date to converse with you.

Remember that your date is trying their best to keep a conversation going. Help out by answering a question that would give more opportunities for more questions and conversations over the date. [Read: First date conversation tips]

13. Focus on your date

Learn to focus on your date, no matter what. If you’re going to exchange glances with other good-lookers, it would be extremely disrespectful to your date. 

And they’re definitely going to treat you badly too. So instead of ending a date in a bad way or wondering why there’s so much hostility in the air, pay attention to your date.

And even if you do bump into a friend and stop to speak, excuse yourself in about thirty seconds unless you have no choice. [Read: Phubbing – what it is, 18 reasons why we phub and ways to stop it ASAP]

14. Talking about yourself

There’s a thin line between talking about yourself and bragging about yourself. Tread that line carefully if you want to be a good date and make the evening work in your favor.

Never talk about yourself in a manner that can seem boastful. Keep touchy subjects like your paycheck and your car away for another day. 

But if you do want to show off your money or your job, be discreet about it and wait for your date to bring up the questions by creating conversations that stray towards those touchy subjects. By doing that, you’d actually seem like the humble one! [Read: 8 Helpful ways to stop being a self-centered person]

15. Don’t dress down

Dressing casually may seem like the perfect attire to dress up for a first date, but if you’ve planned for dinner or a meeting at a swanky lounge, always dress your best. 

Don’t ever dress down or look even remotely shabby. Look good and smell good, it makes you more appealing and worthy of your date.

You may be late or in a hurry to get to meet your date on time, but that’s no excuse to be dressed badly. Don’t ever embarrass your date by dressing casually or in a hurry, especially if your date’s taken their time to look their best for you. [Read: What is peacocking? The many types and why guys show off around girls]

16. Where’s your game face?

Put on your best side, no matter how the date goes. The first impression is the most important one. 

But sometimes, a date could be an uncut diamond in the dirt just waiting to be revealed. Even if they’re shy or timid, be warm. Unless they’re obnoxious oafs, try to have a good time. [Read: Revealing questions to ask on a date]

17. Never reveal your disappointment

Don’t show your disappointment. You may think you’ve snagged a bad date, but learn to put up with it. 

You never know how the date could progress if all you want to do is pout, grumble and throw a hissy fit. And even if your date doesn’t fit your description of a perfect date, it gives you no excuse to insult someone or make them feel bad about it. [Read: How to end a date the right way]

18. Mind your P’s and Q’s

Always be on your best behavior. Help your date out and make them feel comfortable and happy to be with you. And always remember to thank your date, even if they don’t go out of their way to help you. 

Being a gracious dater who knows how to treat a date can make your date feel better, and you a better person.

[Read: How to get a guy to kiss you when you want him to]

These rules of dating basically come down to dating etiquette. Perhaps that’s all these rules are – guidelines that we should probably think about following if we just want to be decent. And of course, have a really good date!

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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