New York Etiquette Guide

The Comfortable Groove: Etiquette Rules for Long-Term Dating

Posted on Wed, May 26, 2010
Dating Etiquette
by Jeremy Willinger

You stay in more than you go out. Maybe you are thinking about getting a dog and moving in together. At this stage in a relationship, couples have moved beyond the “I” and are beginning to think about the “we.” While how you refer to each other is a personal matter, how you treat your partner should follow certain rules of etiquette specific to this evolutionary time. 

If you are not living together but spending much of your time together, then most things should be split about 60/40, favoring the woman. In other words, if you are in it for the long haul, then the concept of the man paying for everything should be reconsidered. Proper long-term dating etiquette says that men should still pay for most things, but long term dating rewrites this rule. When going on vacation, for example, how the expenses are to be split should be discussed prior to the departure date—preferably several weeks before so there are no surprises. If a man is financially sound and able to take care of trip, then the woman need not contribute.

While the financial rules of dating etiquette become more relaxed, the generally established rules of etiquette still hold fast. For instance, the man is expected to pull out the lady’s chair at restaurants, as well as be the first to enter revolving doors so he can push. (If the doors are already in motion, however, the woman enters first.)  And though you are spending a lot of time together, long-term dating etiquette suggests that you also spend time apart, with friends and family—and respect the time away that each individual needs.

If the relationship ends, and the couple is engaged, the woman should return the engagement ring if she initiated the breakup, or if the man did not do anything egregiously offensive. If the man cheats, or initiates the breakup, the woman is entitled to the ring

The key element is to communicate and address serious issues like money far in advance so there is an understanding who is responsible for what and when. Because long-term dating is a process in flux, complementary etiquette must be defined by each couple. Etiquette thus becomes an aspect of the relationship personalized by each situation.

While the general guidelines for long-term dating etiquette mirror those that we follow in the initial stages of courtship, once enmeshed in a partnership, the couple should feel free to make rules that, when followed, facilitate the healthy development of a future together.


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