Five Good Ol’ Fashioned Dating Tips That Still Apply

Roles and rules in the world of dating have been jumbled in recent years.  We are bombarded by a pop culture of television shows, movies, books and songs depicting men and women in traditional and non-traditional positions in the workplace, family, and relationships.  It can be hard to tell which of the old rules of dating still apply — and which ones even your grandparents would consider out of style. 

But there is a reason earlier generations are known for chivalry, courtship and life-long marriages: dating was more about finding someone special, getting to know each other, and building a relationship based upon trust and respect. Some of the dating tips from this era still apply today.  Following these timeless rules can take the game-playing out of today’s dating scene and help you find lasting love.

1. Don’t chase boys
It may seem outdated, and even unfair, that men are responsible for making the first move to initiate a relationship.  But it’s simply a rule of nature, not just of old-fashioned courtship, that men want to pursue a woman and women want to be pursued.  Starting a relationship the opposite manner may work in the short-term, but won’t necessarily translate into a long-term commitment.

2. Send a proper invitation

Modern technology has provided a million and one ways to contact potential dates.  Resist the easy ways of communication — text, email and social networking sites to name a few — and pick up the phone. The person on the receiving end of the call will admire your bravery and directness, starting your relationship out on a good note.  

3. Gentlemen should offer to pay

It is true that the majority of modern women have the ability to pay their own way on a date. But when it comes to picking up the check, it’s the thought and effort on a gentleman’s part that truly makes an impression on women.  While women certainly appreciate a man treating, being gracious and relieving any awkwardness that may arrive along with the check is what women really want.

4. Remember the magic words

We all know good manners of saying “please” and “thank you” in any social situation never goes out of style — and this is particularly true on a date.  Thanking your date for a good time and vocalizing that you enjoyed their company is not only polite, but being direct about your feelings early on can erase any mixed signals and show your date you’re interested.

5. Honesty is the best policy

If a relationship is not going well, it is best for all involved to be honest and upfront in ending things.  It may be easy to simply “forget” to return phone calls, but pulling this kind of disappearing act is upsetting and confusing to the person on the other end.  Treating the people you date with the same respect you expect for yourself is key for building a meaningful relationship, and should apply even to those you may not be interested in romantically.

Dating advice from the past is still surprisingly relevant to our lives today.  When following these tried-and-true rules, dates will be impressed with your classic style and know you are a person worth an old-fashioned courtship. is a lifestyle destination where singles get advice, discounts and connect with other singles, and share their inspiring personal success stories. To read more articles about the single lifestyle, click here!
  1. Thanks for the dating tips. It is a little frustrating that I cannot initiate a conversation since JDate sends me these great profiles. I KNOW it is a mistake to say HI first, but always such a temptation!!

  2. I used to strongly believe in these rules of courting, but am not so sure they apply nowadays. Guys are not that eager to commit in the modern world, so women are expected to do much more “Hishtadlut” (trying) than they do.
    I myself find that assertivness is much more ufficient when it comes to getting the guy of your dreams, with one exception: the gal who does the pursuing, has to be assertive by nature. Good girls (AKA Ladies), always finish last.

  3. I honestly don’t think it would make any difference if I rang to meet for a follow up or texted. Unfortunately, if a girl is not interested, she’s not interested. It’s never saying no to a date and then changing to a yes. The girl often says yes to a second date then changes it to a no.

  4. I agree, more or less, with much of the comments above. Things are different now. A female could be doing me a favor by making the first contact. At least, she is indicating that she is potentially interested. Who knows? I may have overlooked her somehow. Maybe I will decide to reconsider. There is no rule saying that the other person has to respond. That is the beauty of this system. No response does not necessarily mean “No!”. It spares hurt feelings. On the other hand, she might very well “score” with me. So, Gr8aquagal, it would be more of a mistake to NOT say “Hi!” first.

  5. Point #1 – Don’t chase boys. We women wish to be pursued, and men want to be the pursuers. Once things get going, let’s say 2 months in to dating, and the guy has been pursuing (calling, texting, inviting), then slows this right down, and the woman is left picking up the pursuit. What has happened here?

  6. Sara, I would say if it’s 2 months into dating, why should the guy keep doing all the pursuing? After 2 months, the man and woman should know each other well enough that it’s become more equal. Also, maybe after 2 months the guy hasn’t been getting enough good vibes from the girl that she is truly interested or maybe the guy has realised the girl is not really for her after all. Therefore, people should let each other know exactly where they stand, so there’s no guessing games from either party.

  7. Sharon guys like myself definitely want to commit in the modern world. Unfortunately, I have found that it’s the attractive looking girls who don’t want to commit, as they have several guys chasing them. It’s the reverse situation for me in that nice guys finish last.

  8. Dear Dean,

    Sorry for what you are going through, I can certainly relate. I have no idea how it is for singles around the world, I was just describing what goes on here in the Holyland of Israel, for us gals. Guys just won’t take relationships to the next level.
    It sounds you truly value what’s important in life & as a woman, I can tell you that the serious ones among us, realy cherish your approach & nice guys too :-).

  9. Sorry, I’m a guy and I have to passionately disagree with several of the points above.

    The landscape of dating has changed – the traditional roadmap of rules & requirements regarding dating is completely different, and one of the biggest mistakes we can make is to assume that those old rules still apply. They don’t.

    The internet has changed everything. It’s changed the way we shop, the way we study, the way we pay our bills, and the way we interact with people. It’s made it easier to meet someone, but MUCH harder to FIND someone. The point here is that we have a buffet of men & women on these kinds of sights… but too many options tends to cloud the mind of those who have trouble making a decision, and most people do when they have no concept of what they want, and how to find it.

    #1) Women can type too. Given how easy it is now for both parties to make the slightest bit of effort, there is no excuse for a woman to let a man know that she’s interested. Here’s a little secret ladies – us guys are TIRED of pursuing you! We’re out of breath and our legs hurt from running around chasing our shadows. It’s a huge relief when a woman tells us she’s interested. I am much more likely to take a woman seriously if she contacts me, because she’s showing me that she’s empowered enough to make the first move (great sign!), and she’s not letting some antiquated social convention get in the way of meeting a potentially great person!

    #3) Gentlemen should offer to pay? Sure, because it’s nice, but not because we’re expected to. If we are *expected* to do this when we meet a woman, or when we are courting her, then what should we expect from the woman? If you woman are getting red in the face answering this question, just ask yourselves how us men feel when we have to answer it as well. We are all, men and women, looking for ROI – return on Investment, that’s just what it boils down to in the end. We’ll pay, but we don’t want to feel taken for granted or unappreciated. If there’s more than a couple of dates – please offer.. no, INSIST on participating. If you don’t, you’re sending us men the wrong message.

    As for the rest of the rules, I don’t consider them rules but rather, common sense. Being polite, courteous, civil & honest should not be rules, but how you live your life, regardless of dating. If you do this, then applying them to your dating life should be transparent. If however you lack the ability to be polite, courteous, civil and honest in your everyday routine, then dating is the least of your problems.

  10. To M.J.,

    On offering to pay:
    What is the “Wrong Message”?

    Does your employer give you benefits after two days in the office on a new job ?
    You have to earn it.
    Why would a relationship be any different ?

    Women spend oodles of money and time looking good , you get that gift right off the bat.

    If you can not stomach paying to feed a woman, then change your sex.

    Absolutely rude beyond words.

  11. M.J. you are absolutely spot on! This is the best comment I have ever read on JMag, brilliantly written! You should be an author! Rosina sounds very old fashioned to me. The wrong message on offering to pay I believe that M.J. alluded to is that if you don’t offer to pay after a few dates you would be just taking things for granted, like a son or daughter who has everything paid by their parents! I had a bad experience a few years ago when on the 1st date I took a nice attractive lady to a Japanese restaurant on the 1st date and i paid $95 for the whole meal. She did not offer to pay and I never got a second date from this lady after trying. That’s the type of thing I believe M.J. means in taking guys for granted and making us feel unappreciated! Especially today, some women earn as much as if not more than the guys they are dating.

  12. My dear Rosina,

    The “wrong message” is that, just as you have expressed in your response (and thank you for proving my point), you think you’re giving us a gift by showing up and looking good. Men don’t want to feel like we need to bribe a woman with dinner just to have a little companionship. Besides, aren’t relationships about equality, and give and take? If so, why is there an expectation that that just because a woman is doing the man the favour of being there, we are supposed to reward them? Shouldn’t it be about meeting someone great, not about getting a free meal?

    Yours is an alarming attitude, and when you express your opinion as you did (especially with condescendingly rude closing statement), it makes it clear that us men who do feel taken advantage of have little recourse, due to the small-mindedness of certain individuals who refuse to see our perspective of things. To automatically brand my statement as “rude” is unfair and offensive to any male who shares my perspective. No matter how we may feel about it, and how much courage it may take to express our opposing viewpoint, there will always be someone ready to twist our words and make us feel bad about challenging the traditional perspective. I never said I couldn’t stomach paying for a woman… although apparently that’s the message you elected to interpret. If you go back and re-read what I wrote, it wasn’t that men should not pay, but that the expectation shouldn’t automatically be that we should. Why can’t a woman pay for a man, if not on a first date then perhaps on a second, third, or tenth date? Really ask yourself that question, and see what kind of response you come up with.

    Why even make it about money? It’s not – it’s about equal contributions… and sometimes the woman is more financially stable then the man. So, in cases like that, the woman may pay and the man may contribute in a different way. That that make us less of a man (and, really, do we NEED to feel immasculated if we meet a woman more financially successful then us?)

    Otherwise, on the subject of appearance, what you obviously fail to realize is that we, as men, also spend “oodles” of money and time trying to look good and make a great first impression. Men are judged by our appearance just as much as women are, no matter how far in the sand you may choose to bury your head. Many of us kill ourselves in the gym trying to stay in shape. We agonize over any hairloss and try to find ways around it just because some women don’t like the bald look. We go under the knife for cosmetic surgery to look good. We spend thousands of dollars on clothing (and there’s 1/10th the selection for men as there is for women)… yes, it’s the same for us.

    Your comments only function to prove my point.. so again, thank you for posting them.


  13. M.J.,
    I believe respect & courtesy should be a mutual thing, when it comes to dating. I don’t torture interested people, although sometimes I think I should (guys don’t seem to appreciate me otherwise).

    I doubt it if in the name of equality, feminisem & Miss manners, you would approach a woman who refuses to wax her legs, wear perfume or do her hair, nails & make up. You probably never take a second glance a woman’s profile if she has no photo. As a man, look is a must for you. Even Jewish law orders a woman to take care of herself & be pretty for her guy.

    So suggesting we women should not want/expect you guys to pick us up or pay for the first few dates, is a double standard.

    You can’t have it both ways & when it comes to dating, it’s best that some things are done the old fashioned way, which keeps the attraction thing going.

  14. Way to go MJ! You have just been elected President of the Male JDating Population! You are a wonderful role model in that your accurate and forthright views have given us male Jdaters a “voice” which has been long overdue and would be reflective of many of us males. I just wish that if even a handful of female Jdaters would not only agree with you but follow your advice, then Jdate would be a much happier and rewarding experience for the males!

  15. Sharon, I know you are a proud Israeli lady and love living in the Holy Land. However, would you ever consider relocating? I know you’ll say no that your family, friends and job are all in Israel. However, I know that you often mention that Israeli guys won’t commit, and I believe you. Therefore, I know you mentioned on another JMag article that your very best friend find a European male online on Jdate and she relocated and they are now getting engaged. Obviously for you, I hope you eventually do find the one Israeli guy you are looking for in Israel, but let’s say you haven’t in a few years time would you consider relocating or maybe would you look to communicating with a non Israeli in another country and if you hit it off with him, would you ask him to relocate to Israel? Also, do you have any other Israeli female friends who would be interested in relocating and if so, could I have their profile names, with their permission? I have always found Israeli ladies to be more friendly, honest, kind and down to earth in general than their American, European or Australian counterparts! I consider myself to be a great catch and I am in my early forties and I am not observant, but of course I’m Jewish!

  16. Sharon,

    I respect what you’ve said and I agree that looks are important, but it’s a two way street. We all judge people based on their appearance, so while I am less inclined to meet someone that I don’t find attractive, I expect a woman to hold a man to the same standard. With that said, personal grooming and pride in one’s appearance speaks volumes; it’s a basic expectation of respect between both parties to make themselves presentable to each other. If two people meet, and one doesn’t even bother to try to look good the other, it’s a commentary on how little they care about the date, or the person themselves.

    To your point, a doubt many women would approach a man or give him a chance if he approaches them and has (any combination of the following) a couple of days of facial growth, messy (or no) hair, a pot belly, bad teeth/breath, isn’t dressed well, has facial blemishes, or any other obvious flaw. Let’s not lie to ourselves and pretend that women don’t judge men on their appearance. But, we don’t see men expecting to be rewarded with a paid dinner because of the time & effort it takes us to look presentable to ladies.

    Suggesting that a man should pay for the women because she is the only one spending time on her physical appearance is a myth. It is very much a double standard, and one that does not work in a man’s favor. Pretending or insisting otherwise is disingenuous & insincere.

    It’s time to face facts that things are done the “old fashioned way”, not because it’s better for both parties, but because one party doesn’t want to give up the benefit, and the other is too afraid of how it might make them look to suggest a change. Implying that this is the “best” option based on the arguments you, Rosina & Fay have made is thin & ignores the man’s perspective completely.


  17. Hey M.J. (what does that stand for? 🙂

    In Israel, it’s customed that a first date includes beverages only. I never in my life expected, nor felt comfortable, with a man I hardly know paying for anything more than that. I appreciate & respect anoyne who comes to meet me, and I always offer to pay my way.


    A woman, would explore during a date, whether the guy has certain lines to his personality, such as kindness, generousity & a good heart.
    The only way for someone to show that he remotly holds these
    qualities, is by making these little but meaningful gestures, such as paying, picking up the girl & showing interest in what she wants or has to say.
    I can buy my own coffee/dinner, as I make my own living & career. But relatioships are about giving, and being there for one another, not about making tabs. The first step to make it happen, is by giving a good first impression.
    It’s all very simple.
    Men look for true Ladies. Women are in search of Gentlemen.

  18. Hi Rohan, thanks for all the compliments. I don’t know what the Almighty has instore for me, but I can tell you this: I have dated quite a few Americans & for some reason, it never works for me. So I tend to believe that my beshert (or maktub as we sepharadics refer to it), is actually an Israeli (here’s hoping they’ll grow up soon :-).

    My best friend is engaged to european, but he is actually a native Israeli & and she managed to persuade him to live in Israel half the time. If I come across a nice Tzabara (hebrew term for a native Israeli girl), I’ll be sure to inform you.

  19. To M.J and Robert and all the guys who don’t get it:

    You will. 🙂

    Y’all just don’t understand how much time and money women have to spend to look good. Women (still) make less money than men for the same job in many careers. Women’s clothes are more expensive (on average). Women’s hair cuts are more expensive (on average). Women are taken advantage of in this way b/c clothing designers and hairstylists know women will pay. B/c men are visual.

    The man should pay. And if the man doesn’t pay or doesn’t realize he should pay – that’s okay too. B/c you know what? Unless you are attracted to the woman who wears sweats, her hair in an elastic, and no makeup you will pay. Maybe not on most dates…maybe not during your “courtship”….but believe me, once you get married – the bills will come in and you will finally realize how expensive it is being a woman.

    A very wise Rabbi once said “You never really know a woman until you marry her”. Trust me on this 🙂

  20. M.J.

    Your posts were enlightening, articulate and interesting – and I was happy to hear the male side of this topic. I am a single American woman living in Israel, and find that the mentality here is very different from the States, which is why, while I don’t agree with Rosina’s point of view, I understand it – her behavior is actually attractive to the majority of Israeli males (forgive me the generalization – I’m sure there are exeptions…). Assertive, successful and/or intelligent women tend to intimidate them here. Perhaps that’s why Sharon (who claims she is assertive) feels that men won’t take relationships with her to the next level. I think we can all agree that finding a mate is quite complicated, and there are no hard fast rules that apply to everyone.
    Thanks for sharing!
    — Elianna

  21. Sharon,

    Once again, I respect what you have to say and understand the perspective from which you are speaking, but I don’t think you’re looking at it through a man’s eyes.

    For the most part, we have no problem treating a lady on the first date, or any subsequent meeting, as long as we feel that we are equal participants. What this means is that, while we are more than happy to put forth such meaningful gestures, we draw the line at having to prove ourselves solely with those gestures.

    I can’t speak for all men, but I can say that when a woman offers to carry a bit of the weight (financially or otherwise) in a relationship (or on a date), it tells me that she is a modern woman who is interested in contributing, equally, in the same ways as any man. It tells me that she’s not going to get brainwashed into thinking that her role as a woman restricts her ability to take care of the man in her life. It tells me that there’s thought to her action; that she’s not marching to someone else’s beat, but setting her own and doing things her way, because she has the capacity to think and do whatever she wants. I want to know that if I meet a woman, she’s not doing something or following some convention because that’s what is expected of her… but rather, because it’s what she expects of herself.

    I’m sure I don’t need to point out the obvious, but you should be weary of the “good first impression”, because it’s too easy a thing to fake. I don’t want to meet a woman who needs me to impress her with little things like paying a bill, or picking her up. I see those acts as shallow, superficial, and too easy to fake. Any slimebag can buy you a drink… but the true test is how he treats you when you had just a bit too many of them.

    Really, we just don’t want to feel used. Like it’s our JOB to show the lady a good time. Dating in and of itself can be a very stressful experience for a guy.

    You’re right – men do look for true ladies. And I believe that a true lady wants to be with a man who respects himself… and any self-respecting guy isn’t going to try to win a girl over with the contents of his wallet.


  22. Peggy,

    I’m afraid my dear that it is you who still does not get it.

    Yes, men are visual. Guess what… women are visual too! Don’t pretend for a second that you don’t care how a guy looks… women are just as much into physical appearance as men. To imply otherwise is ludicrous.

    Yes, we understand that women put a lot of effort into their physical appearance. Really, we do. We men know it’s a lot of work for women, and we respect and appreciate every second it takes.

    Now, do you understand how much effort we men put into looking good? Do you understand that we have much FEWER options available to us to try to make ourselves appear more presentable to a lady? If we have bad skin, we can’t cover it up with any kind of makeup. There is no accentuating anything with mascara or lipstick. Our wardrobe options are minute compared to what women have available to them, and god help us if we’re overweight ’cause no suit is going to cover that up! To compensate for this, the best we can do is try to take care of ourselves physically, do what we can with our hair (or for some guys, what’s left of it), and if we’re lucky, we can purchase clothing that compliments us without the need to miss a mortgage payment…

    …and, we have to do all this without actually looking like we’re trying. There’s nothing more pathetic then a guy who spends sooo much time and money trying to look good, because god help us if we come off effiminate! That’s right, on top of it all, we have to try and hide it.

    You need to realize that it’s not a competition. All that we ask is the recognition that women are not the only ones who are haunted by their physical appearance, and are not the only ones who go to rediculous lenghts to make themselves look good. For many men, this has become an obsession.

    Frankly, I find it troubling when a woman takes this kind of attitude. You need to understand that most men out there (at least the genuine, kind, & serious & ones who are looking for something real) avoid a woman who subscribes to these theories.

    Please, for your own sake, trust me on this.


  23. Elianna,

    Thank you for your kind and insightful response! It’s refreshing to see that some women are understanding of the difficulties men have to endure when trying to meet a woman.

    You’re right, there are cultural divides. There are men out there who don’t want a woman to usurp their traditional masculine role. But really, do you want to be with a guy who doesn’t want you to surpass his success? Do you want to be with a man who limits your progress in such a way that it does not exceed his? If I’m with a woman, I’ll support her and contribute to every aspect of her success, even if it means that it surpasses my own.

    A man who is intimidated by the success of the woman in his life is not a man… he’s a boy, and needs to grow up.

    Good luck on your search! I hope you find a guy that appreciates you for who you are, and everything you bring to a relationship!


  24. Hey Elianna,

    Forgive me, but I have never described myself as assertive. You may have gotten that notion from my talkbacks, but I’m not. I speak my mind, am independent, but am not assertive or tough, though I feel that with Israeli men, maybe it’s time I should.

    I have no idea how old you are, but a lot of the Isaeli men in their 30’s I come across with, don’t think they ough a woman anything. They do however expect women to be very self sufficient, whilst this character exactley, is what gives them the excuse to back out, since at the same time, they would like the little wife type of woman.

    Conclusion: there is always an excuse, when you are scared to grow up. And trust me: I know a lot of assertive women or “klaftas” if you will, who are happily married.

  25. Hi again M.J.,

    No woman who’s truly in search of the real thing, bases her desicion on the wallet factor. I respect your opinion, since I strongly believe relationships are a two way street.

    But as I have suggested before: the stage of dating is a must, since you don’t jump right into the “going steady phase”, if you will. And during the first dates, u don’t discuss all of those notions you have so articulatly described in your respone. You try to get to know the person within the time & place limits, before you go & dig deeper & deeper, which is something to do in the more advances stages.
    You are not gonna want to dig deeper, if a woman shows up in her sweats. Her stating to you, that she’s usually very fashion oriented, won’t cut it. Why? ‘casue you don’t know her yet!

    Again, first impressions. If all of us could fall inlove at first site, you guys would NEVER have to open your wallets & as for us gals? well, we could date in our jammis, wearing green/blue facial masks with curlers in our hair.

  26. Speaking of Ol’ fashioned, the women back then were the Best compare to today.

  27. A real old fashioned woman is very difficult to meet for many of us men that are looking, and with so much more women being very nasty to us men certainly doesn’t help the situation either.

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