Your manners matter to women, maybe even more than your looks. A 2015 study found handsome men who violated social norms—basically, those who had poor manners—were as unattractive to women as ugly dudes. In fact, the study found poor manners knocked down a man’s attractiveness more than having an unsightly mug.
“Nothing is more attractive to women than gentlemanly behavior,” says Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder of The Etiquette School of New York. “And nothing is more flattering to a date than being with a man who behaves like a gentleman.”
You (hopefully) know to hold the door for her and compliment her appearance—especially when she’s dressed up. But those are low bars to hurdle. If you really want to show her you’re a gentleman, Napier-Fitzpatrick offers these ten essential etiquette rules.
HELP HER WITH HER COAT
“Hold her coat at waist height while she slips in one arm and then the other, after which you will pull it up and over her shoulders,” Napier-Fitzpatrick instructs.
OFFER HER YOUR ARM
If you’re attending something swanky—or pretty much any time she’s wearing heels—you should offer her your arm when you’re walking together, Napier-Fitzpatrick says.
SLIDE OVER IN TAXIS
If you two are entering a taxi, you have two options: You can hold the door for her, let her sit down, and then go around to climb in on the other side; or you can get in first and slide across to make room for her. “Your date should not have to slide over,” Napier-Fitzpatrick says.
LEAD THE WAY
If you’re making your way through a crowded room—like in a theater or bar—you should walk ahead of her. “A gentleman precedes a lady to make a path for her,” Napier-Fitzpatrick explains.
ASK IF SHE WOULD LIKE ANYTHING
Whether you’re at a cocktail party, a bar, or an outdoor barbecue, ask her if she’d like anything to drink as soon as you arrive. This shows that you care about her comfort and needs, Napier-Fitzpatrick says.
GIVE HER THE GOOD SEAT
If you’re out to dinner and seated at a table against a wall, your date gets the seat that faces out into the restaurant, Napier-Fitzpatrick says. A view of her pretty face is the only view you’re entitled to.
BUTTER YOUR BREAD THE RIGHT WAY
“There is no better or worse place to make an impression than at the table,” Napier-Fitzpatrick says. While whole books have been written about proper dining etiquette, here’s one rule a lot of guys don’t know.
If there’s butter to share, you should transfer a portion of it to your bread plate. Now pick up your bread and break off a bite-size piece. Butter that piece only and eat it. Never butter your whole slice or chunk of bread at once, and don’t butter anything you don’t plan to eat immediately.
OFFER HER YOUR FULL ATTENTION
Out on a date, make eye contact when she speaks, don’t interrupt and avoid talking about yourself too much, Napier-Fitzpatrick says. Also, and most importantly, your phone should not join you two at the table. Keep it in your pocket or otherwise out of sight. Even if you’re not using it, just having your phone on the table can stunt conversation and make you and your date feel disconnected, research shows.
STAND UP FOR HER
The old rule was that men should stand whenever a lady enters or leaves a room, Napier-Fitzpatrick says. While that’s overkill these days, you should still stand if the two of you are out to dinner and she (or any other woman) gets up from or sits down at your table.
PAY THE CHECK
Times have changed, but not that much. Napier-Fitzpatrick says if you’re on a date, you’re paying the bill. Period. “Even if she offers to help with the check, don’t accept,” she adds.