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Dating Etiquette: How To Make Introductions

Ann C. from Boston wrote in last week with a concern about the lost art of social graces. In her words:

“Hi Heartalytics experts! I’m writing in to request that someone lay out the basics of the meet-and-greet. I realize this may seem silly, but I honestly feel (and have personally experienced) disgraceful attempts at the most basic introductions.

Most recently, I went on a date and the man I met with (literally) did not introduce himself. He remained sitting at the dinner table when I joined the reservation, did not shake my hand, and did not say a word until I began the conversation to get things moving.

He later told me that first impressions were not his strong suit, but even if nervous, I believe that the art of introduction should be mastered by adulthood. Based on my recent experience (and past experiences in the dating realm), perhaps we could all benefit from a couple reminders on the subject. Thanks!”

Since the blog’s founding, I’ve noticed a trend of questions indicating a general lack of mannerly behavior on dates (from both man and woman alike). But what is the root cause here? Discussion with fellow Tawkify teammates has led to several possible explanations:

  1. Not all people learn social skills at home, and not many schools (today) incorporate manners and etiquette formally into classrooms.  
  2. In a Heartalytics article from last Fall, we discovered cell phone use was the #1 dating pet peeve among all 100,000 people polled. So…is new technology the problem? Are we too distracted by our gadgets to employ basic etiquette upon meeting one another? 
  3. The dating scene is NOT what it once was. Concepts such as “courting” are alien to the modern dater. In some ways, that’s empowering–in others, it leaves a lot to be desired. Read 5 Ways to Avoid the Cliff of Contemporary Dating for more on this subject.

Whatever the cause, I’m here to remedy it! First, let’s tackle the art of introductions. For reference, I will be using excerpts from a 1950’s Etiquette book entitled, “Etiquette for Young Moderns.” This particular book was originally written for a younger audience. Regardless of the references to “boys” and “girls,” the guidelines provided are golden. Enjoy!

How To Acknowledge An Introduction

You’re always safe with “How do you do,” and you’re more likely to make a hit if you add the other person’s name to your greeting. 

Frills, such as “Charmed, I’m sure” sound insincere. If you’ve looked forward to meeting Polly Franklin, say so with a straightforward, “I’m very glad to know you, Polly.” But don’t embarrass her by adding a vague “Oh, I’ve heard so much about you!” If you really have heard complimentary remarks about her, tell the source. “My cousin, Tom Bobbitt, says you’re his favorite dance partner!”

When Do you Shake Hands? 

Handshaking is always in order when men and boys are introduced to each other. The matter is optional when a boy is introduced to a girl — and it’s the girl’s option! But if the boy unwittingly makes the first move, the girl should meet him halfway, instead of leaving him with his hand dangling in mid-air.

And do make yours a firm, brief handclasp, not one of the prolonged-pumping or flabby-fisted varieties.

Tawkify note: This tip is a smidgen out of date. It’s 100% appropriate for either the male or female to initiate an introductory handshake upon a first date. 

Must you Always Stand up for Introductions?

The ups and downs of introductions are easy when you follow these two general rules: 1) A boy always rises to the occasion, no matter whom he’s meeting or greeting. 2) It’s a “must” for a girl to stand only on being introduced to older people, although it would be courteous of her to rise to greet another girl who’s already standing. 

Tawkify Note: The Art of Manliness also reports that the man should stand upon any and all introductions. However, gender lines need not always apply here–as a woman, I tend to stand as well in most introductory situations. 

What About Double Introductions? 

Tawkify note: The day will come (if it hasn’t already) where you and/or your date runs into an unexpected friend, work colleague or acquaintance during your evening out.

How you handle this unforeseen social interaction is crucial–especially in budding relationships. Take note! 

The double interaction. That’s an easy one — there’s no confusion! Here’s what happens when two couples meet and only the boys know each other:

Dave (to his date): “Sue Michaels, this is Hank Gibson.”
Sue: “How do you do, Hank.”
Hank: “How do you do. (turning to his date) Rosemary Clark, I’d like you to meet Sue Michaels and Dave Burke.”
Rosemary: “How do you do.”
Sue and Dave: “How do you do, Rosemary.”

Filling The Gap (More on Double Interactions)

Your responsibility doesn’t end with introductions. It’s up to you to fill the awkward pause that may follow the how-do-you-do’s. Don’t direct your remarks to one person. Swing the conversation into some channel where all of you can navigate equally well.

Bring the third person up to date on the conversation: “Stuart and I were arguing about ‘hot rods’ as a highway menace. What’s your opinion, Ralph?” or “We’ve been trying to decide which movie to see. Have you any suggestions, Mrs. Entwistle?”

Extend an invitation to the person who has just joined you: “Doris and I are on our way to the library, Helen. Would you like to come along?” or “Won’t you join us for a soda, Harold?”

Tawkify note: In this type of situation, be aware of your date’s signals. He/she may not want to turn your date-for-2 into a date-for-4. If you cannot read him/her well enough to determine the best course of action, make your introductions, engage in some light conversation and excuse yourselves to continue the rest of your evening as a pair. 

Some additional tips from How to Make Introductions Like a Gentleman:

  • There’s no need to adhere to ironclad laws or be all flowery about it. Keeping it simple and respectful goes a long way.
  • When being introduced or making an introduction outside, remove your hat and keep it off until you part ways again.
  • If outside and wearing gloves when meeting someone, remove your glove before shaking his or her hand.
  • What do you do when you’re introducing your guest to another person and realize you don’t remember their name? Say to the person, “Have you met my friend John?” The person will then hopefully reply with, “No, I haven’t. I’m Sophia.”

The Goodbye

Goodbyes are as important as hellos. What if you didn’t have much to say during the brief chat between David and his cousin Jonathan? You were introduced to Jonathan, and it’s rude to turn your back on him abruptly when you leave. It’s unnecessary, too. There’s no tongue-twisting about “I’m glad I met you” or “I’ve enjoyed meeting you.” If you feel more enthusiastic about him, you might say, “I hope to see you again soon.”

And if Jonathan beats you to it with some such comment, you’re being paid a compliment. A careless “Sure thing” or “Likewise” or “Same here” isn’t good enough. Your sincere “Thank you” is what’s needed to put a fine finishing touch to an introduction.

Tawkify note: The above advice can be applied to every date you go on. Always end your dates with a courteous farewell. This applies whether you plan to see that individual again or not. 

This is the first in our Dating Etiquette series, be on the lookout for future installments this Fall. 

Love Wisely,

Valerie Presley Ackler
Editor, Heartalytics

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