Four Things To Never Talk About On A First Date, And Other Date Etiquette From Emily Post’s Great-Granddaughter

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Modern courtship can sometimes seem like an etiquette minefield: you know you need to be on your best behavior, but besides “please” and “thank you”, how many of your grandmother’s etiquette rules still apply? Are religion and politics on a first date still a no-go? Who takes care of the bill? After a certain number of dates, should you assume you’re monogamous?

To answer these etiquette questions, we went straight to the source — or rather, the source’s granddaughter. Lizzie Post is the great-great granddaughter of American etiquette pioneer Emily Post, and co-author of Emily Post’s ETIQUETTE, 18th Edition.

Lizzie spoke with HowAboutWe and provided us with some up-to-date guidelines that are fail-proof without being stuffy, proving that while some of Emily Post’s original rules were naturally in need of modernization, etiquette and courtesy are never old-fashioned.

HaW:Ok, once and for all: who should pay for dates?
What it really comes down to is who has asked whom. Who did the asking, who did the inviting: technically that’s the person who should do the paying.

That being said, we live in a world where people aren’t always clear with their intentions. It’s really best to make sure you have enough money to cover the date on you.

You can always say things like “So, should we split the bill” especially if you’re uncomfortable with the thought of someone paying for you. We don’t want anyone to feel like they have to be taken out by someone. There are other options, but traditionally, whoever does the asking does the paying.

Related: The New 50/50: How To Split The Check In 2011

HaW:What should you do if you’re running really late to a date?
If this is someone who you have texted before, I’d shoot a text.

Don’t say you’re running 5 minutes late if you’re running half an hour late. Give them an actual time frame. You never know how it would affect their prepping for the evening so it’s definitely a good idea to let them know an exact time.

Say you’re stuck in really heavy traffic. You call and say it’s gonna be 15 minutes, then 10 minutes go by and you’ve only moved a couple car spaces ahead. Call again and say ‘So this traffic is a lot worse than I thought, I’ll send you an update as soon as I can’.

You can also offer to send them updates via text.

Related: Date Running Late? Here’s Where To Wait

HaW: What is OK and not OK to talk about on a date?
You definitely do want to stay away from the big four: stay away from money, stay away from politics, stay away from religion, and stay away from sex. Those four topics can become very personal, very heated, and very uncomfortable. It’s best to feel out who this person is and what they’re like before you start broaching these topics.

If you do talk about any of the big four, try to be very open minded. If someone seems to really have ideas that go against your own, rather than telling them they’re wrong, just ask them more about it. You can also do things like say “Well, that’s one we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on!” and then change the subject to something else. The best thing to do is to just veer away from it as gently and positively as you can.

Related: 20 Questions We Wish We Could Ask On A First Date (But Never Actually Would)

HaW: After how many dates should you take down your online dating profile?
I think you really have to have established monogamy with this person. Sometimes one person thinks it’s monogamous and the other person doesn’t. It’s important to talk, as the dates progress, about whether you’re seeing someone else or whether you just want to see each other. It’s perfectly appropriate to ask. I would be open and say “I’m really enjoying this and not planning to see anyone else and I just want to know where your thoughts are.”

It’s important to recognize that you might not be the only one and that’s okay: you don’t have a ring on your finger. Be understanding about that. Be clear about your own intentions and the other person will hopefully be honest with you. Once you’ve established monogamy, then is the time to take down your dating profile.

Related: Facebook Etiquette: When Is It Okay To Friend Someone You’re Casually Dating?

HaW:What do you think would most surprise Emily Post about in the 21st Century?
I think what she’d be excited about rather than surprised is the equality in dating. What she would find fascinating and so exciting about it would be that in our dating realm even in comparison to the 1950s, it’s much more open, it’s much more free, but there’s still a lot of emphasis put on courtesy and being kind and considerate to the person you’re with.

Want More Etiquette Advice From The Post Family?
Emily Post’s 18th Edition of Etiquette, updated by her living family members, is now officially on sale! Peggy Post heads the team as the etiquette successor, with words from Anna and Lizzie Post, as well as Daniel Post Senning. New trends, topics, and societal hot zones explored in the book include:

· When is it okay to “unfriend” someone on Facebook?
· If I’m in a middle seat on an airplane, do I automatically get both armrests?
· A business client is sick with a cold — am I obligated to shake his hand?
· Is it rude for guests to tweet from a wedding?
Click here for the offer. The offer expires on Nov 12.