Dating Etiquette

A man and a woman sitting opposite each other.

Australia is a country where the overwhelming majority of people go on dates and are sexually active before marriage. Therefore, as a natural consequence, Australian society is full of people going on first dates, around which certain etiquette rules have been formed. The rules, of course, are not binding, since courting is not regulated, but they constitute conventions both men and women typically follow to avoid awkward moments and potentially negative reactions.

A kiss on the cheek

To begin with, proposing a first date, according to the etiquette rules, is usually considered a man’s job. Women, typically, wait to be asked out, although a society pushing for gender equality has led them to now also sometimes take romantic initiatives. Still though, no matter who asks whom, dates always begin with a greeting, which customarily involves both parties leaning in to give each other a simultaneous kiss on the left cheek. The kiss, which most experienced daters tend to go for, sets a romantic tone, and indeed contrasts the stiff handshake and the cozy hug, which otherwise would be the greeting habits of choice.

Paying for dates

Once the parties have greeted each other in whichever way, the first date proceeds and eventually often reaches a stage when something has to be paid for. Here, etiquette suggests that men should pay, an expectation that is so engrained in dating culture that women may get disappointed if men don’t pay. Nevertheless, women often offer to split the bill to demonstrate that they can hold their own, a behavior leaving men with a dilemma where two options present themselves. The first option, which is what many ladies secretly hope men will do, is to “man up” and insist on picking up the whole tab, while the second option is to recognize the fact that certain women want to remain economically independent, and accept to go halves.

After the quagmire of organizing payments, if romantic chemistry is there, first daters may want to go home together or set up a second date. This, though, largely has to be done without the help of etiquette rules, since attitudes on what is appropriate at this stage varies greatly. However, even without etiquette rules, some dating Australians still choose to lean on a certain tradition when taking first dates to the next step — the national tradition of drinking alcohol.