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Call Me Maybe

Dating etiquette for Southerners in the modern world by Patti Davis. 

Porch swings, watching fireflies and holding hands while enjoying a glass of sweet tea. While it seems like the charm of these Southern dating rituals have been replaced with a computer profile, the proper way to conduct yourself on a date will always reign supreme in the South. When the time comes to jump from the keyboard to the first kiss, your manners may need a little brushing up. Here’s some modern-day help.

Be On Time
Nothing says, “your time doesn’t matter,” more than being late. It is the ultimate insult. If you are interested in someone, let them know by being at your designated meeting place a few minutes early. If you’re meeting at a restaurant, this will allow you time to look over the menu before your date arrives.

Whoever Issues The Invitation, Pays
When you invite someone out, you are expected to pay. Whether you are a woman or a man. So, before you make that date, think about your budget. Dates do not have to be expensive, but use a bit of creativity. How about a picnic in the park? You could pick up a bottle of wine, some nice cheese (or just go with pimento) and a baguette, and you’re good to go. There are always free concerts and activities around most cities, so pick up the paper and see what’s happening. If this is a first date, try to avoid a movie. Going to see a film doesn’t allow you to get to know someone, so pick an activity where you can have a conversation.

Check the Negativity at the Door
Most everyone has had their heart broken at least once, but this is not first date fodder. Keep your discussions upbeat and pleasant. Leave the heavy stories and Scarlett O’Hara-esque drama for later dates. And if you’re not over that ex (aka Rhett) and can’t help talking about him/her, maybe you aren’t ready for that first date with someone new.

Be Nice
You wouldn’t think I would have to remind anyone of this, would you? Your manners (or lack thereof) will say everything your date needs to know about you. Be polite and kind to restaurant waitstaff, doormen, ticket takers and bartenders. The way you treat others will be a preview to your date of how you will treat him/her in the future. Besides, what would your mother say if she knew you’d left your manners at home?

Turn Off the Cell Phone
Unless you are a doctor on call or are awaiting a kidney, you don’t have much need for your cell phone during a date. Texting and taking calls does not make you look popular, it makes you look rude. Sorry for being so blunt, but this is one of the worst etiquette gaffes in today’s society.

Be Yourself
Just relax, be yourself and have fun. If there is no chemistry, be honest. Saying, “I think you are terrific, but there’s no connection there for me,” is one of the kindest things you could do. Don’t say you will call when you know you will not. And if you are interested, but the object of your desire is not, be gracious and accept it. You will come out of a less than pleasant situation smelling like a rose or at least a Southern gal or gent with some manners.

You might have to meet and date a few people before you find the right one, but they are out there, waiting for you to come along. Enjoy the process!

Image from vivalasvegasstamps.com.

Patti Davis lives in Atlanta and teaches etiquette at Dazzling MannersShe’ll be here every other month discussing general etiquette and other ways to make life a little nicer in upcoming columns. Past columns include Thanks for EverythingMind Your Holiday Manners and Phone Etiquette for ToddlersDo you have an etiquette question? Comment and post it here or e-mail her at [email protected] and she would be delighted to help. You can also follow her on Twitter @DazzlingManners or like her on Facebook

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  • Bryan / August 10, 2012

    Be yourself. I think this is sometimes overlooked as we want to project an image of who we want to be, rather than who we really are. I think social media has its benefits, but it has really allowed folks to project a false image to the world. Anyhow, I totally agree with “Be Yourself.” And be honest! That way, you never have to wonder what you said on that previous date.