I am very stressed out today due to work issues, so I thought I would tackle a light hearted subject -- dating etiquette. The following tips are framed in heterosexual terms because they are meant to help clear up the confusion arising from the evolution away from traditional heterosexual dating practices, but they can certainly apply to same-sex couples as well.
1. Either party can initiate the date. I encourage women to take the initiative. Sure, you risk the embarrassment of being rejected but you may be surprised at how flattered and pleased the man turns out to be. Ane even if he doesn't go out with you, you have at least taken matters into your own hands rather than waiting around hoping to be noticed.
2. When you ask someone out, be specific as to when the proposed date is to occur. It is correct to ask "Do you want to go to a movie on Thursday night?" NOT: "Do you want to go to a movie sometime?" The problem with the invitation to go out "sometime" is that you put the other person in the position of possibly having to say, "No, I NEVER want to go out with you." If you choose a specific time, the person can say, "No, I have other plans Thursday night." That answer is far less embarrassing both for you and the other person.
3. If you ask a person out twice, and that person says no both times, stop asking. (Maybe you can push it to three times but after that, basta.) If the other person wants to go out with you, he or she can always say, "Well, I can't make it Thursday but how about Saturday?" If someone keeps telling you no, respect that person's autonomy and back off.
4. Whoever initiates the date pays. If the woman asks, she pays. The invitee, male or female, may make a gesture towards paying but the invitor should insist on footing the bill. The invitee should gracefully allow the invitor to pay even if the invitee is a man and the invitor is a woman. A man who insists on paying when the woman did the inviting is (in the words of Leon Kass) essentially insisting that the date occur on his terms.
5. What about gestures of chivalry by the man, such as opening the door for the woman? Either way, whatever makes the man more comfortable, is fine. The key question the woman should be asking herself, however, is not: "Is he willing to engage in symbolic gestures of chivalry?" but "Does he appear to respect my opinions, my interests, and my autonomy?"