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?

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7 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.

  3. Kusum Basnet says:

    I am sorry for commenting here but I just read your article “How to get over someone you don’t want to get over.” I hope you reply to what i write. I was in a relationship with a very good friend of mine for 7 months. We had some problems that we went through in 2016 and I followed a rule that I liked to call “forgive but never forget” He was mean to me in 2016 which was when I liked him and he didn’t reciprocate my feelings but as 2017 arrived, we talked about it and then we decided to start over again and we started being very good friends. We started getting closer and this another girl started liking him too. I still liked him but I told him to not treat her the same way he treated me and he was very nice to her. 2 months before we graduated, he started developing feelings for me and I had started liking him even more as he had really realized his mistakes and was working towards being a better person. We told each other how we felt but we didn’t want to hurt the girl so we didn’t start a relationship until after we graduated. The next 7 months, our life was a roller coaster, a lot of good compared to bad. We fell in love and we would talk every single day. We were thousands of miles away from each other but it was working. We were giving our best. We would always solve our misunderstandings and things were going the good way. After 7 months, we were supposed to see each other on the 8th of January. We were waiting for that day but on the 18th of December, I flew back home where my parents didn’t allow me to date and we couldn’t talk for about 12 days where we started having misunderstandings about the other person not caring. Mostly, it was me who thought it. He was with his family after that and I still went to the country we were supposed to see each other which was where we went to school together. I was there for another 8 days and we still couldn’t talk and the misunderstandings were just getting too much. I said things to him when I wasn’t at my best. Mean things, saying how he doesnt care about me at all, how he is a selfish person and an asshole and the night before we were supposed to see each other, I told it all. Even though it was both of our faults, I said things that I regret. I shouldn’t have because now when i look back, I don’t even remember things I was mad about. That is my biggest regret. I told him to pick me up the next day and then we would separate our ways. That’s what he woke up to. He came to pick me up and then I realized why I was doing everything in the first place. Why, for that moment, I chose to go do a long distance relationship for 7 months not knowing when I would see him, why I loved him and I desperately wanted to talk and solve things out. He left me at my relatives house and then he said he needed time to think things over. We just had 10 days with us so I asked him if he could spend time with me and see if he still wants to be with me or not. The next 3 days, I spent my days crying and begging and calling and spamming when he said he needed time. He ignored most of the messages and never picked up my call. He said that it was driving him away from me and I understand but I didn’t know what to do. He said he was sorry for being an asshole those days here and again. I gave him some space and we talked once here and there and he said he didn’t love me anymore. I told myself that I would move on. We met one last time couple of days later and it was such a nice time we spent with each other. He was sick, I wanted to stay with him and take care of him so bad. We talked, held hands, cuddled, hugged and kissed for the last time and it was very beautiful, the moment was so beautiful. That was all I wanted. He said he wanted to talk things out too but we had no time left as he was leaving in 2 days. We ended in good terms and decided to remain friends in the future when I would be ready. The next day, I booked my flights and I told him i was leaving the next day. He said he loved me, only me and wished the misunderstandings weren’t there. Before I left, I wrote him a message saying that I love him, I miss him and I care about him, thanking him for all the wonderful things he made me feel and the good memories, apologized for my mistakes and I told him that I forgave him, for not giving us another chance and not wanting to love me again which he told me couple of days earlier. THen came his message. I will write exactly what he wrote “Hey, I’ve read your message. And i can honestly say that brought me to tears. I think I need some time to think, when i go back home, I am seriously going to have some thought about what’s best for me. You are amazing. I should’ve given us a second chance. Seriously, what I did was wrong. Don’t forgive me for it. After everything happened, I wasn’t sure if i was happy, I didn’t want to be, I like him now and I hate him now, I wanted us to be us for what we had before that. I will text you, definitely, when i come to (The country where I live), you are going to be the first person I text, if you want to see me, I’ll be so happy, if not then I understand. I’m sorry. You mean a lot to me, you do, you have always been there for me, you still are now, you flew here to see me, holy shit, why did things have to happen that way? I’m so sorry for everything. I hope in the future, we can talk things out. Please read this when you can. I shared things with you, did things with you, talked about things with you that I had never done with anyone else before. You are beautiful, talented, smart, gorgeous, amazing, I could go on forever. I’m sorry for everything. I had an amazing time with you. Even when i was sick.” I got that message when i was at the airport. I had so many emotions rushing through my head, I started crying and said that I was moving on. He said alright, bye then, if that is what you have to say as I was constantly repeating “Fuck you.” After that, I said “FUCK YOU for breaking my heart” then I wrote that, I wanted to be an asshole like he’d been in the last couple of days for once and ended by saying that i wish goodluck to him for his future. I told him that I would definitely see him then. I asked him not to be mean as we regret saying stuff after some time. I had said that I would quit all of my social medias to get over him properly but I told him that he could text me if he had stuff going on and if he wanted to let things out. I then flew. I was used to texting him first whenever I landed and I saw that he had read my message but not replied. I texted him saying that as he was the first person I text, I’ve landed and that i still miss him and i hope we can talk things out in the future. He has flown back to his country after that and he hasn’t seen the message. I don’t know what to do now. I still miss him and love him. Should i ask him to see if we can give this one more chance? The thing is that we won’t see each other for another 7 months but we could do it for the past 7 months so I am sure we can do it. I am not sure if I should move on. I love him dearly and i have realized and learnt from my mistakes and I am not sure if i should contact him or just not text him for a month which I decided would be the length of my break from social media. I seriously don’t know what to do. Should I tell him that I want to give us another chance and see if we can make this work? Please help me.

    • Petra says:

      Long distance relationships are always risky, and hard work. Think about that – do you really need that much stress and uncertainty, and for what exactly? You were friends, on and off, thousands miles away. Way too much complication and effort without any real idea if you would ever be good together, since you can’t know that unless you live in the same location and see each other often. Take care!

  4. Vivi says:

    Hello Petra. I need some advice from you. I just divorced. Its only been 1 year since we got married. He wanted to divorce because he says he feels trapped in our marriage. We had our great time together and there were time i was overwhelmed with his love and care then there were times when i feel less and unappreciated. Hes 23 very young and has been dealing with many problems in his life (what makes him happy? How he should be living his life? etc) and when i complain hes not paying enough attention for me he would always tell me he has a lot on his plate and having me adding to it is too much for him and hes tried. His parents pay most of his bills and hes not really into looking for a normal fulltime job to provide for himself because he says hes working on his own thing so one day he can make money with it since the normal jobs will stress him out and he wont be able to conventrate on his own work. I understand his passion and try to support him with all ways possible. Im very touched how he said he will take care of me one day (financially) and i dont have to go to work anymore. On the other side, since we moved in an apartment i have always been the one to pay for most of our bills living there even when he goes to work. I honestly dont know where his money goes. Its something has been bothering me because i feel like hes not willing to share the everyday burden with me. I make a lot more money than him maybe thats why he thinks its okay for me to take care of the bills. We would fight about things like i need him to get a job which can help him pay the bills with me, i need him to clean the house with me since i go to work more and dont have time to clean while he has a lot more free time, i need him to fix things i the house when it broke down, want him to spend more time with me…just normal things i expect him to do, nothing big. He does not seem to take those things serious though and we would get into fights for matters like that. I always feel like i have to surpress my feelings all the time to not argue or complain with him about things he does or doesnt do that bothers me. Then when i cannot tolerate it anymore we will fight and he would think that i dont love him. Recently he has been having bad lucks in a lot of things he lost his job, lost his car in an accident (thanks God hes fine) and had to deal with his dad whos an alcoholic and would yell at him all the time. His parents divorced when he was really young. He brought up the divorce because he cant stand whats happening right now anymore and he just want to be on his own and wants me to let him go. I know hes a troubled young man trying to figure things out in his life but i love him very much and it hurts me knowing i cant be the one to stay with him. I was against the divorce at first but Im letting him go now though. Sometimes he says that we will meet each other again in the future which gives me hope but i dont know if he means it or was just trying to make me sign the paper and leave. Maybe we were the right ones at the wrong time but him leaving me like this after all i did for him is very difficult. I know despite the hard situation hes in he did made effort to make me feel special at times and i will never forget those moments. I really want us to see each other in the future when hea sorted hus things out do you think i should have hope in it or just forget about all this and look for someone else. Hes my sweet heart and i think if we did not have a lot to deal with at the moment we would be very happy together.

    • Petra says:

      I don’t know how old you are, but seems you too are too young to understand what makes a relationship work. He is not ready to be a responsible adult, and all the things prednisone you expect from him, the “normal” stuff, are not normal to him. Waiting for someone to grow up so we can be happy together is a lost cause. This relationship is a great learning opportunity for you, and nothing more than that. If you are willing to open your eyes and see it for what it is, you’ll thank him for the experience, and gladly move on. Attraction and loving someone when they are at their best, or loving the potential of what they could one day be is not love, and it’s never enough. Sooner or later you get fed up with waiting for them to change and realise that potential. People change on their own, and on their own time. Some never do. Investing your time and emotions into a relationship with someone who doesn’t know how to deal with basic things in life is hopeless. Thinking your love will change him is an illusion. If you want to be happy in love, stop expecting from people to be what you think they should be, and start looking for someone who meets your expectations from the start. Wish you all my best!

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