What do you think dating is? Short answer: going to the movies or grabbing coffee, right? Essentially getting to know a person.
Snezana Pejic, director and founder of The Etiquette Academy of New England, agrees. Despite modern-day technology adding confusion to the rules of dating, at its core, the process has always been the same—the problems occur when we define dating incorrectly and fail to define what our expectations are.
“Dating is just to see if somebody fits your personality, if you have the same views, etc.” Pejic says. “Dating is different than a relationship.”
Some teenagers whom Pejic asked defined dating as “friendship, but so much more!” Relationships are far more like friendships than dating. If your parents remain married, it’s most likely because they are best friends. They are support systems.
Dating doesn’t quite work like that. Here, Pejic—whose academy will host a dating etiquette workshop this weekend—shares tips on how to wade through the dating pool to a real relationship.
Before you jump into the scary world of meeting people, you need to figure out who you are as a person. Pejic calls the first segment of her dating etiquette class “Troubleshooting.” Students fill out a personality assessment test to learn more about their wants.
“Be true to yourself.” Pejic says. First find out who you are and what your expectations are in dating. The best place to start? Figure out what you don’t want. Trace and understand the faults in your previous dating experiences. Define your boundaries, deal-breakers, what you’re looking for in a partner, kids, marriage, the whole shebang. Once you know what you are interested in and what you want, it will become much easier to enter the dating field.
The Beef of Modern Dating
After you know what you want, find someone who shares your views. If you like playing tennis, go play tennis! Join a team or a gym. But once you find a person, don’t limit yourself to dating just him or her. The whole point of dating is that you get to meet a lot of people who interest you and figure out who you connect with best. Date a lot! Pejic says it’s OK. The worst thing you can do is date one person and fall into a relationship because you’re already comfortable and scared to be alone.
Pejic’s workshop will also address the nitty-gritty questions many people have: What do I wear? How do I approach someone I want to talk to? Who pays on the first date? etc.
The Art of Communication
For those who spend hours drafting a text only to never send it (or send too many), pay attention. In her class, Pejic teaches different communication styles that will help you show your affection for your partner, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, how to properly break up. Perhaps the most important lesson about communication: not everything has to be said.
“If they are present, calling, seeing you…they care for you—even in this new generation. Actions speak louder than words.” Pejic says. “You either care or you don’t care.”
So don’t freak out if your partner doesn’t text you as much as you want them to. What matters is if they make an effort to see you or ask you how your day is. In small gestures, the person will make sure you know you matter to them.
“Texting is fine,” Pejic says, but what is not fine is having the nerve-wracking “What are we?” conversation over text. If the person is not making the effort to pick up the phone or see you to have that conversation, what’s to say they are not entering into a texting relationship with other people as well? Save the conversation for in-person, and use texting as a means to meet up with one another—not as the entire date.
1. Gabbing with your gals too soon often leads to them telling you, “You can do so much better!” instead of being support systems that you need.
2. Placing too much weight on your friends’ opinions can be disastrous.
3. Try not to move too quickly and keep to a natural flow.
4. Stop thinking about the next step!
5. Games aren’t necessarily bad, but what does that mean when you enter into a relationship with someone you have only been playing with?
6. Communication, communication, communication.
Pejic will never tell you not to do something, but she will give you the necessary tools and information to learn what you want in the dating world and how to get there. After one session with her, you’ll be properly equipped to combat the daunting dating scene in Boston head-on.
Upcoming dating etiquette workshops at the Etiquette Academy of New England are Saturday, March 22, 2-5 p.m., and Saturday, June 14, 3-6 p.m. Visit thecommunicationacademy.org for more information.
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