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While the “rules” of dating may have changed over the years, one basic principle remains the same: it’s important to enter into any type of relationship honestly and authentically, no matter your age.

But some Next Avenue readers are curious about today’s rules and posed questions specifically about the particulars of dating in 2019: Is there a new dating protocol? Who pays? And…who texts?

For answers, we went to Daniel Post Senning of The Emily Post Institute, based in Burlington, Vt. Senning is the great-great grandson of Emily Post, author of the groundbreaking “Etiquette: In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home,” which was released in 1922. Emily Post went on to become a syndicated columnist; her expert advice on social mores and etiquette was heralded by generations and her legacy continues today.

Senning is the author of Manners in a Digital World: Living Well Online and co-author of the 19th edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette. He and his cousin Lizzie Post are co-hosts of “Awesome Etiquette,” a podcast from American Public Media. According to Senning, the podcast has become the Institute’s “favorite vehicle for having contemporary discussions about etiquette today.”

In a recent interview with Next Avenue, Senning answered these questions posed by our readers:

What is the proper etiquette for dating if one is an over-60-year-old widow?

The basics are the same no matter who you are or what your age. Whether you’re twenty-five, forty-five or sixty-five, dating can always feel awkward. But committing to our core principles of etiquette at The Emily Post Institute — consideration, respect and honesty — is what matters in how you take care of yourself and others.

You want to be sincere with people. Be genuinely authentic and don’t try to be someone that you are not. It’s important to be honest. Have respect for yourself, and for other people, and don’t forget that you are worthy of the same respect you are showing to others.

I was married for almost 40 years; my husband died last fall. I would like to start dating again, but I’m not sure if there is a time frame that you are supposed to wait.

Traditionally, the period of mourning used to last for about a year; it would determine everything from the kinds of social events you’d attend to the type of clothing you wore during that time. Today, these ideas aren’t practiced universally. It’s more about being honest with yourself and deciding when you feel ready to date.

In some situations, a death has been long expected, and the surviving spouse might be more ready. In other cases, if a loss comes quickly, there may be a different level of readiness. Some who are widowed might be ready to start meeting people again, but not necessarily ready for dating. Know what you’re interested in and be honest with yourself and others.

When I was dating in my 20s, it was generally assumed the man would pick up the tab if we went out. The woman would make the meals if the man came over to her place. Given that I will be dating men in my generation, is this still the accepted practice?

Etiquette is a combination of manners and principles; manners, especially in social situations, can be comforting and grounding when you know what to expect.

There is a tradition and history of gender courtesy and manners, and these types of courtesies tend to matter most to people who grew up with them. In this case, for instance, men would pick up the check. Men can still do that, but what’s important now is for them to ask permission first to perform a courtesy: ‘May I get the door for you?’ or ‘May I pay for our coffee?’

See: This is how much credit-card debt makes you undatable

What we believe is that whomever is doing the inviting is officially the host, so that person is the one who should be prepared to cover the expenses. It’s certainly acceptable to split the tab, but ask first. And don’t insist on paying if the other person prefers to split it.

If you want to invite someone over to your home for a meal, be specific (rather than just asking if they want to ‘hang out’) and establish the date and time. Then the expectations are set that you will be paying for and making the meal.

I am over 50 and do not use dating websites. I have only accepted dates from people I have met at social events or through being ‘set up.’ I’ve been surprised at the number of times I’ve been asked out on a date via text messaging versus a phone call. Is this the new norm?

Yes, it’s definitely happening. However, ‘asks’ are definitely more personal by phone — when you can tell the pacing and inflection of someone’s voice — or in person when you can read body language.

Also see: Dr. Ruth says smartphones have ruined dating

If you aren’t comfortable with a text exchange, tell the other person, ‘I’d love to hop on a phone call to talk about this — I’m not a big texter.’ Don’t make it an ultimatum for whether or not you’ll go on the date, but set expectations. And if the relationship progresses, you can talk about how you want to stay in touch.

Additional thoughts on dating

Senning also offered thoughts on what he says are two important considerations for those re-entering the dating scene: safety and an exit strategy if the relationship isn’t a good fit.

According to Senning, while etiquette is an important part of a dating life, above all else, personal safety is the most essential. “You need to take care of yourself physically and emotionally at all times,” he says.

For that reason, he adds, it’s vital that all first meetings occur in public places during daylight hours.

“Always be very careful about giving out any personal information about yourself, such as a phone number or address, when you are first meeting,” Senning says.

As for ending a relationship, there is always a risk in trying something new and while sometimes relationships work, other times they don’t. Senning says having an “exit strategy” to end the relationship is also essential.

“The parting is as important as the greeting. It’s OK to end things after one date, or 10, or more. There is nothing that is owed,” he says.

Read: Women online daters peak at age 18. Men peak at 50.

The best way to break up? If you’ve been communicating primarily by text, it’s perfectly acceptable to end it the same way. If there have only been a couple of dates, ending things on the phone is completely fine, Senning says.

But “when a long-term relationship ends, an in-person meeting can allow both people to express their feelings and close the relationship,” he says, again, providing that safety is always a top-of-mind consideration.

Julie Pfitzinger is the editor for Next Avenue’s lifestyle coverage across the Living and Technology channels. Her journalism career has included feature writing for the Star-Tribune, as well as several local parenting and lifestyle publications, all in the Twin Cities area. Julie also served as managing editor for nine local community lifestyle magazines. She joined Next Avenue in October 2017. Reach her by email her at

This article is reprinted by permission from, © 2019 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Chill in your igloo this summer.

A number of retailers like Amazon

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 and Walmart

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  are selling a variety of clear domes that resemble igloos that you put in your yard — “garden igloos” if you will. There’s this 12-foot, $1,200 “Garden Dome Igloo” (pictured above) that the manufacturer claims is perfect as a “conservatory, play area, greenhouse or gazebo.” Or this $1,300 “Inflatable Bubble Tent” from HUKOER that it claims is an “unforgettable experience for your family.”

The internet has erupted in delight. People called the 12-foot garden igloo “the hottest backyard accessory on Amazon.” Country Living raved: “Forget about the tiny guest house. There’s a new backyard must-have in town.” And real estate site Curbed said it was “perfect for glamping or growing.”

Smart shopping expert Trae Bodge of says all this praise for the garden igloo doesn’t surprise her: “We’ve already seen a rise in the popularity of other pre-fab structures, like sheds, “granny pods” and even houses, so it’s logical that other, similar structures would enter the marketplace,” she says. “The igloos function as a gazebo, children’s play area or enclosed garden, and I think they will be popular with home renters and owners who want an impermanent addition to their yard that offers some protection from the elements while offering an unobstructed view.”

And to her point, they do have some pluses: You can see through them at nearly every angle, and they aren’t permanent so you can move them if needed. And as Country Living points out: “It’s incredibly versatile and with a little maintenance (like clearing off accumulated snow), you can utilize it year round.”

But there are big downsides: For one, they’re pricey. And on the “Garden Dome Igloo” one owner noted: “I can not recommend this product because it does not look like the picture. It is wrinkled and not smooth like the picture shown.” Another said that “the set-up is a little time-consuming the first time.” And the Inflatable Tent igloo has to be attached to a blower to keep its shape, which one user complained was loud.

Still, some consumers seem to enjoy them, with one writing: “Great place to have a glass of wine with my partner under the stars.”

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Chinese employees working on an energy-saving bulb production line in Suining, Sichuan province, China.

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China’s manufacturing activity shrank unexpectedly in June, coming in at its worst reading since January, according to a private survey.

The Caixin/Markit factory Purchasing Managers’ Index for June was 49.4 — the lowest since January when the indicator came in at 48.3.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the indicator to come in at 50. The PMI reading for May was 50.2.

PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below that signal contraction.

The lackluster reading was due to new orders falling into contractionary territory, pointing to shrinking domestic demand, said Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, a subsidiary of Caixin. The index measuring new export orders was also in negative territory,.

“Overall, China’s economy came under further pressure in June,” Zhong wrote in a report.

“It’s crucial for policymakers to step up countercyclical policies. New types of infrastructure, high-tech manufacturing and consumption are likely to be the main policy focuses,” Zhong added.

The Caixin survey finding was in line with readings from China’s official PMI which stood at 49.4 in June, contracting more than expected, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics on Sunday. That was unchanged from the previous month. Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted a reading of 49.5.

The official PMI survey typically polls a large proportion of big businesses and state-owned enterprises. The Caixin indicator, features a bigger mix of small- and medium-sized firms.

The PMI is a survey of businesses about the operating environment. Such data offer a first glimpse into what’s happening in an economy, as they are usually among the first major economic indicators released each month.

For China, the PMI is among economic indicators that investors globally watch closely for signs of trouble amid domestic headwinds and the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute.

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