When we think about some of the most romantic gestures—someone standing in the rain to profess their love or writing a monster ballad for the love of their life—we roll our eyes and think “only in the movies,” right? Well, a lot of these small yet meaningful gestures are not just in fairy tales, but are more accurately authentic acts of love that have fallen by the wayside in the age of swiping and social media.
Here are nine old-school dating tips we bet your grandparents used, that we’re in favor of making cool and modern again.
Meeting Organically in Person
Have you ever wondered why it was so easy for your parents to meet? One reason may be that they didn’t have technology to act as a barrier between them. Suzanne Oshima, a dating and relationship coach with Single in Stilettos, says to put away the cell phone and start noticing men and women whenever you’re out. “By not allowing technology to dominate your interactions with potential partners, you’ll be able to focus more on your own desires and expectations, distancing yourself from the distractions that technology and social media can pose to your dating life.” Sure, Tinder has its perks, but relying on it too much can have the opposite of its intended effect.
Chatting on the Phone
It’s hard to believe that phone conversations are considered “old-fashioned,” but the reality is that many daters learn more about each other from texting and social media than they do from actually talking to each other. “Using your phone to make a personal connection shows a lot more effort than merely texting,” says celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert Bonnie Winston. “Studies have shown that hearing a loved one’s voice can increase serotonin levels. I tell my clients ‘ring instead of a ping’ when asking someone out. It may be old fashioned but it works better, because it shows you care a little more.”
Going out More
With all the great shows on Netflix (and with everything being a tad pricier than it was in the good ol’ days), it’s sooo easy to just Netflix and chill instead of going out—even for something as simple as dinner and a movie. But, Winston says, old-fashioned dating is about going out, not staying in. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. “Star gaze while listening to your favorite music in the car or go to the planetarium for a relaxing and romantic show,” she says. If you’re both outdoorsy, go hiking or ice skating… there are so many things to do that don’t include forking over a ton of cash.
Not Talking During the Workday
It’s easy to get wrapped up in a flurry of text messages all day (“whatcha eating for lunch?” or “how’d that meeting go?”) and sure, texting during those eight to 10 hours apart can be sweet. But don’t underestimate the power of a pause in communication. Before phones, people would have to wait all day, pining just to hear their lover’s voice and creating that passionate feeling of missing each other. To create that rush of reuniting, take a break from texting, turn your phone off, or even consider leaving it at home, and see how excited you’ll get when you do see their name on your phone (or in person!) after a long day.
Showing up with Flowers
Have you ever seen this IRL? You’re far from alone if not. Imagine meeting your date and having her or him waiting there with a bouquet of beautiful zinnias and dahlias. This is also something that says a lot but is rarely done. “They can be from a fancy florist or simply a small bouquet from the flower stand or supermarket, or even a cute small plant,” says Winston. You can also try sending them to their office or apartment the day after an amazing date.
Writing Handwritten Notes
You don’t have to be Emily Dickinson to write a sweet poem for your date. Things like love letters and notes are seldom sent anymore, but much appreciated when they are. “If you have personalized stationery, break it out,” says Winston. “Even more old-fashioned and romantic is spritzing your perfume or cologne on the letter.” It doesn’t so much matter what you write (though by all means, pour your heart out if you’re inclined); it’s the gesture that feels special and rare these days.
Sometimes it seems like the world moves so fast that if we don’t figure out our careers, relationships, and life by a certain age, we get left behind. It’s time to ditch this unhealthy mentality—at least when it comes to dating. Take your time and enjoy the (all too short) getting-to-know-you phase of a relationship. “If you want the relationship to become a serious commitment and potentially marriage, you need to build a strong foundation and get to know them on a deeper level,” says Oshima. “By rushing into things too quickly, you make yourself vulnerable to the disappointment of incompatibility issues that you may not have noticed early on.” Not to mention that it’s just more romantic to let things unfold naturally and at a relaxed pace.
Minding Your Manners
The thing about manners is that they’re actually not old-fashioned; they’re timeless—so use them! This goes for both guys and girls. “I had a client who wasn’t interested in taking a woman out again because not only was she rude to the server, but she didn’t thank him for the lovely dinner,” says Winston. “Often people won’t tell you they’re offended, they just won’t ask you out again.” So, say thank you, don’t be rude, and definitely don’t text or even put your phone on the table during dinner.
Waiting to Have Sex
This is a bit old-fashioned—and we’re not saying women should do this as a way to capture someone’s interest and pin them into a relationship. If what you’re looking for is a quick hookup, by all means, go for it! But if you’re dating around looking for a longer-term relationship, consider pacing yourself when it comes to your physical connection. “Take the time to get to know them before you have sex,” says Oshima. “By waiting, you’ll be able to make that emotional bond beforehand, strengthening the physical connection you’ll make afterwards.”