Dating etiquette: it’s nice to be nice

Have you ever been in a situation when someone hasn’t called after the first/second/some-other date even though they promised they would? Or when someone said you were so amazing, then shortly after dumped you without explanation? Said they were not ready for a relationship, but then immediately started one with someone else?

Of course you have. Most of us have been there, unfortunately. Bad dating behaviour is a widespread phenomenon these days.

But think about this: have you ever did something like that yourself? Maybe not returned calls? Lied you are busy keeping them linger when you were simply not into it? Flirted with someone who was clearly in love with you but you were not even remotely interested – just for a bit of fun? Kept a “fan club” of random men/women simply to boost your self-esteem?

Well, if we are honest to ourselves – we are often guilty of very similar bad dating etiquette we are so grossed and shocked by when somebody does it to us. Only we don’t think much about it when we do it, since it’s not our heart that’s in the line of fire.

We probably even think it’s not such a bad thing to ignore someone or mislead them, because they are just boring and unattractive and probably don’t even deserve to be treated better because, well – they are just so… boring and unattractive. Who cares how they feel.

Hm. Well. Double standards can be very convenient sometimes – but if you don’t want bad things and bad people to happen to you, you should consider applying the same standards you expect from others to your own behaviour. The universe has a way of balancing itself out and you will eventually get what you give – probably not from the same source though, but nevertheless it will come your way.

But also – how can you honestly expect your dates or love interests to treat you with respect if you don’t give the same treatment to the ones who are interested in you? This might seem obvious, but we rarely see it that way.

There was this guy who I knew was very much into me – but I just considered him a good friend, and even though I was trying hard not to give him false hopes, I still wasn’t sure he got the message right. It made me feel really uncomfortable, but I liked him as a friend. I decided I had to tell him how I stand, and explain that I would like to stay friends, provided, of course, that he is OK with that too.

I was fully aware he might just say he doesn’t want to have anything to do with me any more, and even though I was keen to keep his friendship, I recognised that as a legitimate choice – he had every right to protect his heart too. Of course, it was a bit of an uncomfortable conversation – but in the end, it was worth it.

As it turned out – he did have hopes and was mistaking my friendly behaviour for something more. However, he was happy to stay friends. I knew that might mean he was still hoping for something more – but my conscience was clear. I told him very clearly where I stood – so now it was up to him to decide what to do with that information.

It’s not always easy to be consistent in your behaviour and practise what you preach. But nevertheless – being nice and treating people as you’d like them to treat you absolutely pays off.

Even if you think the truth will hurt them – be sure that lies will hurt them more. Only you won’t be there to see it, so you will save yourself from the discomfort.

But just remember how much it would hurt if the roles were reversed – and do the right thing. It will ultimately bring more good stuff and more good people into your life. Plus you will save a heart or two from heartbreak. And how cool is that?


Tell me about your experience – how does it feel when someone you date doesn’t keep their promises or ignores you?
Have you been guilty of the same behaviour yourself? How did that make you feel?

Thank you for your contribution and making this page a lively forum – please leave your comment below.

(Originally published March 2013)

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3 Responses

  1. Ayesha Basit says:

    This is a good article.
    I have been on both sides of this situation. In the case of the friend who wanted a relationship when I didn’t I wasn’t aware that I was giving him false hope, until he finally confessed his feelings and I had to be honest that I didn’t see him in that way. We are no longer friends. So I was wondering how exactly did you explain to your friend where you stood, how did you bring it up and what words did you use? I’d like to know how to act earlier if I ever find myself in a similar situation again, instead of ignoring the situation and hoping it will go away by itself, which it doesn’t, or that he’ll realise I’m not interested by seeing me act differently with other people that I am interested in.

    • Petra says:

      Hello Ayesha. I am glad you like this article. It’s always nice to hear from my visitors. To answer your question – I just invited him for a drink one day and said we need to discuss something. It was very awkward but I felt I had to be honest, not lead him on or play with his feelings. Basically I said that I think he feels something more for me, and I just want to be friends. And I wanted to make it clear. I said I would be sorry if that breaks our friendship, but I would understand. And if he wants to stay friends, he needs to be aware that that is all I want. So, as you see – I just literally said it, didn’t add much on top of facts – and left it to him to do whatever he feels is right for him. If you do that, you have to be aware that however you phrase it you could lose this person. Other than that – just be honest, make it as simple as possible and don’t explain too much why you feel how you feel. It’s not possible to explain it any way, and it will only hurt his feelings more if you go into more detail. I guess that’s about it, hope that helps!

  2. Klaudia says:

    I am sorry to say Petra but I am not guilty of the bad behaviours you are describing above. The reason for it being that I have never had a single date and men have not been interested in me. On the other hand, I have been subjected to nasty and unacceptable behaviour by men.

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