Dating Etiquette: Some Tips for a New Relationship

date_night

My boyfriend recently moved in with me, which has caused a bit of reminiscing over those first days of dating. How far we’ve come! While I am fortunate enough to be in a committed long-term relationship that functions pretty well—communication, shared responsibilities, etc.—hindsight is 20/20 and love must be blind because I have no idea how I made it past the first month with this guy.

Sure, we all have our “things” that we hope a special someone will be able to overlook: a horse laugh, incessant to-do listing, that mole on your back with the one long clear hair growing out of it. But not every beau is as understanding as mine. Fortunately, I’m here to walk you through the steps I took to introduce him to each of the major aspects of my life so as to show what you might want to avoid.

 

Home

If you’re like me (read: classy), the first time you bring your new gentleman to your apartment will be very late at night after much boozy merriment. I implore you to think a minute before doing this. Under such circumstances it’s easy to forget some basic things that you would normally ease him into.

corgi workingFor instance, say you have a dog. Perhaps an upbeat corgi with an intense need for attention and a tendency to get particularly excited by male energy, who hasn’t been taken out since much, much earlier that evening. It can happen. The first time I brought my guy home my dog jumped up, gave him a puppy hug, then proceeded to piss all over his shoes. Had I taken the route of the lady and instead had him over at a more reasonable hour—closer to dinner than breakfast—this scene could have been avoided.

Even if you don’t have a dog, there are other animals that can cause some awkwardness if just sprung on a boy. Animals of the stuffed variety. It occurred to me only after giving the tour of my apartment and bedroom that a horde of plush friends sitting on my bed, wrapped in a blankie I’ve had since birth, might not be the sexiest welcoming committee. Again, if I’d done this home initiation in a different, daytime mindset I would have had the wherewithal to stash Big Headed Bear and his friends until I had established myself as somewhat sophisticated, at which point the stuffed animals would have seemed like nostalgic tokens rather than creepy companions. Of course, if you leave them out from the start, you’ll be able to find out early whether or not he’s actually a stuffed animal enthusiast—something you’ll have to come to terms with yourself. Double standards, shmouble shmandards.

 

Professional

I made an interesting choice early on in my relationship; I got my boyfriend an internship at the company I worked for. Nothing is more romantic than letting your love interest view you in the place where you are your most bitter and least productive, all the while making him professionally inferior to you.

“Hey, babe. While you do all that filing, I’m going to sit at my desk and peruse Facebook. I’ll definitely be scowling at everyone who walks by, including you, and we have to remain professional so don’t touch me in front of people. See you at lunch!”

The takeaway is this: maybe don’t put your guy in a situation where he can see that your hardworking-go-get-em attitude does not actually extend to your job. Also, co-workers talk smack. It would do you well to avoid having him hear that.

Social

There are few things more important than the first time you bring your new boyfriend to a party with your friends. The pressure is heightened when it’s an afternoon BBQ—people manage to stay somewhat fresh throughout a daytime affair so first impressions stick.

When you introduce your guy to lots of people at once—close friends he hasn’t met yet, fringe friends, acquaintances—two concerns come to mind: do they like him, and does he like them. Both are totally valid, but don’t be so brash as to count yourself out of the mix. How do you behave around your friends and in groups generally? Do they make you a little more comfortable and confident? How about if there people at the party who make you uncomfortable and a little nervous like, hypothetically, an ex. I’m just saying that that combination of comfort/discomfort and bold/anxious can cause some pretty funky things to come out of a person’s mouth.

“That guy over there? Yeah we dated. Hey! You’re hole brothers!”

Don’t say that. Just never say that to a human being you care about. Even if he laughs it off at the time, he will never let you forget that moment of shocking inappropriateness.

Physical

Before you get excited, this section is not referring to the physical aspects of a relationship. I assume you’ll work that out on your own. Rather, this is about introducing your beau to your body in a non-sexual way—how you treat it, how it treats you. If you’re a person with a lot of medical issues, this can be an especially important and difficult phase of a new relationship.

If, instead, you just have one particular issue, say a stomach issue, try to ease him into it. You might be dealing with fun things like constipation, gas and bloating, sharp pains, but he doesn’t need to know what an accomplishment your twice-weekly bowel movement is. Or how it looked. Also, if you’re moving the goods out that infrequently, your farts are not going to be without scent. Do your guy and yourself a favor—leave the room. All of this physical information at once can really put a damper on getting physical. So I guess this did end up being about sex: for a healthy sex life, try not to regularly talk about your irregularity.

 

Hobbies

It’s a special moment when you start to share your hobbies with a significant other—I encourage you to find things you both like that you can do together. Jenga, book club, hiking. Hobbies can really bring a couple together.

On the other hand, if your hobby is more of a solo thing, it might be good to just keep him out of it. For instance, should you spend your spare time doing a hybrid of performance art and standup comedy wherein you discuss your sexual foibles and family issues, he probably doesn’t need to be in the audience every time. Spare him having to hear about the anal escapades you had with that dude you referred to as his hole brother. Let him come to his own conclusions about your grandmother without having to know she belongs to a romance book club and thought Fifty Shades of Grey was boring.

In conclusion: though these tips are somewhat specific, don’t shrug them off as not being applicable to you. Remember what we discussed here; find a way to tailor it to your own life. And, yes, I am just as surprised as you that I’m still in a relationship.

Sara Roan

Sara Roan

Sara Roan is a writer and performer. She moved to Brooklyn 7 years ago hoping to figure "it all" out. Fingers-crossed, that should happen any day now. 

  • Bel

    Magnificent!!!