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Ask Olivia – Modern Dating Etiquette. From Cellphones to Webcams to Meeting for the First Time.

Ask Olivia

Couple on a Date
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Dating has taken many faces over the years, and it is an experience everyone is likely to have an opinion on. However, depending on where or when you were dating, your experiences may be very different from the experiences of your friends, siblings or parents.

In the modern world, dating has changed quite a bit! With all of the advice on dating out there, some of it can be a little outdated because of this. So how do we navigate this new love scene? It’s a jungle out there!

Gone are the days of shared milkshakes, letterman jackets and a nervous drive up to lover’s lane. It’s the new age and just like Joan Rivers, dating has received yet another facelift too.

This can be both a good and a bad thing, depending. For example, cellphones. Everywhere you go you are likely to see people of all ages slumped like the missing link over glowing little squares, barely grunting at the person beside them. This is a reality of our daily lives, and it has trickled over into dating too.

Even when dining at places like Plaza Athénée in Paris, France it’s a guarantee that at least one person is texting under those pristine white table cloths. 30 years ago on a date it would have been totally unacceptable to just abruptly take a phone call or begin another activity, yet today many people do just that!

The temptation to divert attention to that little box is almost overwhelming, but to resist shows your date that you are really interested. Do you want a fun Friday evening, or to unlock the latest Candy Crush level? Leave the cellphone turned off in your pocket, or on the table at home.

Speaking of cellphones, since we are no longer chained to our corded landlines praying our roommate isn’t going to fire up the dial-up internet before the cute girl from last night calls, there is an acceptable and unacceptable amount of time for replying to communications.

If, before or after a date together your date sends you a casual neutral text, respond to that text in 5 to 30 minutes. Any later and you seem uninterested, any sooner and its weird. If you get a tweet, poke, or some other online message, within 2 hours is acceptable.

Since we have access to multiple forms of communication at once, a reasonably prompt reply to basic communications is courteous. A side note, if all of your or their responses are ‘k’ or ‘lol’ it might be time to rethink a second date.

Webcams and video chatting have changed a lot of our interactions with each other. You can attend an important meeting in New York while you’re in Hong Kong, witness the birth of your child when you’re stationed overseas, and yes, even date.

Cyber dates are a growing trend for long distance couples and busy individuals, and they work! With a few snags.

For example, the lack of need to wear pants is both freeing and a hindrance. People often get the feeling that, if they aren’t there in person, who needs to shave or brush their teeth?

However taking the time to put effort into your appearance can send signals to your brain that this is an important event and can make you more attentive and engaged overall. Do you feel more prepared in a suit, or your underwear? It may not seem like it, but the effort will show.

Another thing considering video dates, if you have agreed to chat at a certain time, be on time or early! Yes, it counts. It’s also a good idea to speak clearly at a reasonable volume and make sure your background is free of takeout boxes and hustler magazines.

Video dates are one thing, but what about meeting someone online and then in person? That can be a big deal. After all, what if they’re Ted Bundy?

A lot of people now do a Google Search before hitting the town with their online beau. A quick tip on date googling, don’t bring up anything from the results on the date or they might think you’re Ted Bundy.

With meeting anyone for the first time it is always a good idea to dress nice, link your friends to their profile and let someone know where you are and when you can be expected back.

So maybe you meet a great girl or guy and spend the evening together, you have dinner and drinks, then the important question pops up – Who pays? It’s a sticky question indeed in today’s day and age.

Although on first dates it is usually the gentleman that pays, a good rule of thumb is whoever initiates the date should pay. On the flip side, however, it is a good idea to always have enough money on hand to cover costs and avoid any potential embarrassment.

Once the date is paid for and the evening is wrapped up, you and your date may decide to take it back to your place and continue the fun. That’s great! As long as nobody is expecting it.

In today’s day and age, sex and dating overall are a little more casual. This gives us more freedom to be ourselves and make decisions about the people in our lives, but it can also create uncomfortable expectations for how an evening is supposed to end.

It’s a good idea to be open minded, but leave things ambiguous until you receive clear signals. What’s the rush, anyway?

Overall following some basic advice, practicing good manners, and using your best judgment will take you far. Look sharp, speak well and just enjoy being in the moment whether it’s online, offline, or somewhere in between. As long as you respect your date, be spontaneous, be prepared and maintain an open mind you will be navigating the muddy modern dating waters with ease.

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