What is the Etiquette to Follow When Dating in Russia?

Getting a life partner with someone outside your culture can be complex and difficult. Knowing the unique values and traditions of the place, however, can make wonders. This is especially true in Russia, where traditions play a central role practically in every aspect of life. When it comes to relationships, the Russians are very traditional. 

Men are expected to be leading, mysterious and always taking care of the women. They must demonstrate their capacity and strength to be the head of a family. Women, on the other hand, must be modest, reserved, and beautiful. They are supposed to show their ability to take care of their families and take domestic roles.

This is a striking contrast to western countries where gender equality is emphasized and the independence and individuality of a woman must be considered. This is a general principle that should guide you when dating in Russia. Once you get a grip on this idea, all other basic etiquettes for dating Russians will follow naturally.

Making a Date

Men must make the first move to initiate a date. You need to approach a woman. This is advantageous for two reasons. It shows confidence, which is a personality associated with the image of a real man. It also demonstrates a man’s seriousness and determination to pursue a woman. The latter is important because women don’t usually reveal or show their feelings to a man until they see a man’s interest.

Russian women don’t flirt aggressively or directly. Russian women are welcoming to men who have the guts to do this, which in turn is displayed by a smile. They are usually more obliging if you politely ask them to show their modesty. While they may accommodate an invitation, do not however be presumptuous that they like you.

Invite to drink coffee. A date can initially be in the form of a coffee drink. Like the traditional way of getting to know someone, dating in Russia is gradually done. You can initially invite someone for a coffee drink or snack to break the ice so to speak. Once you can spend a short talk together, you can invite a girl to a more formal dinner date. 

A date can initially be in the form of a coffee drink. Like the traditional way of getting to know someone, dating in Russia is gradually done. You can initially invite someone for a coffee drink or snack to break the ice so to speak. Once you can spend a short talk together, you can invite a girl to a more formal dinner date. 

Make a date plan. As men are expected to lead relationships, men are also expected to make plans for the date. This means the man decides which restaurant to eat, which dating places to go or visit, which place to see or what things to do. Of course, the man would always ask the woman where she prefers to go, eat or do. Russian women, however, expect the man to have everything covered. They simply follow your lead.

Chivalry Never Died in Russia

Chivalry refers to a range of values such as courage, honor, courtesy, and justice that a real man or gentleman possesses, which are demonstrated in his behavior especially in relating to a woman. Here are some acts of chivalry that you should do when dating in Russia.

Never be late. Men who made the invitation should never be late. You should arrive on time to pick her up at her house or to your meeting place. That being the case, you should leave early and consider the traffic or any other errands that may get in the way in arriving on schedule. Time is important in relationships. Arriving on time would mean that you are ready to devote sufficient time for a woman.

Kiss a woman’s hand. While this may seem old fashioned, this is an appropriate way to greet your date. You look at your date, gently hold her hands and kiss her hands. This is more acceptable than hugging, which some women may find improper. On your subsequent dates, kissing your date on the cheeks may be allowed.

Dress up properly. Stylish attire is important in Russian culture because it makes the right impression. Ideally, you need to dress up to look smart and confident. Don’t go on a date wearing sneakers. Russian women make an effort to dress up for a date. So you too must make the effort to look good to compliment her dazzling look. Not dressing up well can disappoint your date or make her look awkward.

Be well-groomed. Aside from dressing up properly, you need to be well-groomed. Make sure that your nails are cut, your hair and beard are neatly trimmed, and you smell good by putting cologne or perfume. Having dirty nails, lousy hair, and having foul doors are sure to let down.

Perform basic acts of chivalry. Men are expected to take care of women so you must do all the basic acts of chivalry such as opening and holding doors open; pulling out her chair; waiting for her to sit before you sit; assisting her to stand or sit; standing when she walks in room; removing your hat; walking on the street side; carrying heavy things; sharing your umbrella, or giving your jacket among many others. You need to make a good impression and Russian women expect this from you. All chivalrous acts will be appreciated no matter how clichéd it would be. Meanwhile, your date will bear in mind chivalrous acts that you may have overlooked.

Never go Dutch. Men are expected to pay for the date. The notion of gender equality and feminism does not apply when dating in Russia. Men must be ready to cover costs for practically the whole duration of the date including restaurant, museum or any other destination. Some Russian women will offer to share the costs but men are expected to refuse and pay for everything.

Take her back to her home. While picking your date from her house is better, it is nevertheless optional if your date simply wishes to meet you in an identified venue. You should, however, make sure to take her back home. Instead of just getting her taxi, you should make sure that your date gets back home safely.

Bringing Gifts

Bringing your date a gift is a must. This is especially true when visiting a woman at her house. You are expected to bring something no matter how small like wine or dessert (e.g. cake). What is important is that you bring something which the host-family expects. Bringing gifts is one measure that Russian women use to assess if a man is truly interested in her. Incidentally, you should take your shoes off before entering their house.

Giving Flowers. While giving flowers may sound well-worn in other countries, giving your date flowers is a matter of proper etiquette when dating in Russia. When giving flowers, it would be advisable to ask what flower your date prefers. However, flowers like roses, tulips, and lilies, can generally do well.

Keep in mind that you should not give yellow flowers on a date because that means breaking a relationship in Russia. You should also ensure that you are giving an odd number of flowers (1,3,5 or 7 pieces). Do not give an even number of flowers (2, 4, 6 & 8 pieces) because they are traditionally used for funerals and are believed to bring bad fortune when given on a date.

Don’t give money or expensive gifts on the first date. While lavish gifts can signify how a man values a woman, this may not be desirable on a first date. Very expensive gifts will pressure a woman to feel obliged, to reciprocate the expensive gift. Instead, you can opt for more modest gifts such as flowers, chocolates, stuffed toys, a key chain, or a scarf among others. If you know the hobby of your date, give her something related to it. For instance, you can give her a drawing book or pad if she likes to draw. 

What to Talk About?

Communication is a central component of any relationship. This is the primary goal of dating, which can make or break your chances of winning your date. Because you are on your initial stage of dating, you can focus on learning each other’s interest including hobbies, wants or preferences of food, places you want to go and the like. You can also learn more about the personality of a person by asking one’s opinion on general things like ghosts or current issues. The idea is to find a common interest that you can talk about.

Learn Russian. Learning the Russian language is necessary to facilitate communication. While some Russians can speak English especially in Moscow, not a lot of them do. Facial expressions and gestures can get you up to a certain extent but speaking their language is necessary to achieve more meaningful and substantial conversation. You can opt to use your online translators to facilitate dialogue momentarily. However, in the long run, not being able to understand each other can be frustrating and will not work out. You need to learn Russian as a matter of necessity. Besides, learning a new language is sexy and impressive.

Don’t get too personal. Unless there is mutual understanding to talk about personal matters, you should avoid it in the first date. This includes talking about your ex’s, family problems, personal issues, and other things. Keep the topics general and friendly. Your date may fight it awkward to share personal matters. While at this, never joke about your date’s family. While Russians love jokes, they are very emotional when it comes to their family and loved ones.

Avoid sensitive topics like religion and politics. Don’t talk about religion unless you are a Christian. Russians are mostly orthodox Christians. If you are Christian, there is a high chance that you share many of their beliefs which can be advantageous. However, if you are from another religion or an atheist for that matter, there’s a high chance that conflict and disagreements will ensue, which you want to avoid.

Another sensitive issue is politics. You know all too well the political tension that exists between Russia and western countries so you might as well skip this topic. Because of the difficulty of life in Russia and the perceived enmity among westerners as they are always pictured as enemies, Russians are patriotic and have developed a strong sense of pride in their nationality and cultural heritage. You should avoid political issues to avoid arguments that are not healthy in a date.

Don’t talk too much. While striking an interesting conversation is initiated by the man, you should nonetheless avoid dominating the conversation. Russian women do not like a man who talks too much. Ideal men in Russia are supposed to be reserved and mysterious. The idea is to create an interesting subject of conversation and facilitate communication by allowing the woman to talk more while you listen more. After all, less talk, less mistake.

Keep up a conversation. Not talking too much but keeping up a conversation seemed tricky. This is exactly the challenge that you need to face because a man is supposed to lead the date and keep the ball rolling. Thus, you must be prepared for initiating different topics that will hopefully interest your date to talk and share. This can be spontaneous or predetermined. The general idea is to maintain a positive and open atmosphere that allows your date to open up and share for you to learn more about her.

What to Do During The Date?

Listen very well. Communication involves a two-way process, talking and listening. Your role as a man is to listen to your date. This not only allows you to learn more about her but it shows the woman that you are truly interested in her. Listening is also important so you can properly follow up and initiate new topics more systematically and steadily.

Don’t drink too much. While drinking vodka may be acceptable during a date, make sure that you drink just enough to keep you on your right senses. You need to remain cool and composed all the time. You can potentially lose your grip when you get drunk. Incidentally, you need to pour the drinks for the woman and need to make a toast before you start drinking.

Mind your manners. Russians generally share the same table manners with Westerners. This includes using fork and knife when eating, keeping elbows off the table, keeping your feet on the ground (i.e. avoid crossing legs), and leaving some food on your plate, too show that you had enough food and you are full.

Your manners, however, should extend to other people and not only to your date. You should equally be courteous to other people in the restaurant including the server/ waiter and other diners. You should behave well and avoid anything that will embarrass your date to the public.

Refrain from touching. While people use touching to show friendliness, pleasantness, and openness, touching especially on a first date is not suitable. Men should particularly avoid touching women. For people who don’t know each other very well, touching can be misinterpreted to be malicious and can result in misunderstanding or an adverse reaction.

Don’t expect one-night stands. If you think of getting to third base on your first date, then don’t bother dating a Russian woman. Being smooth like James Bond only happens in movies. As noted earlier, Russians are very traditional when it comes to dating. You need to go through the gradual and painstaking process of knowing the woman slowly. Depending on how you do well and how much your date likes you, there is no period on how fast your relationship can move forward.

In The End

When it comes to relationships and dating in Russia, the traditional roles of men and women still hold. As discussed above, chivalry remains highly regarded and men take the lead in everything from dating, conversing. Women, on the other hand, are expected to remain reserved and compliant. Dating is essentially about giving the impression that a man can head and protect a family while a woman can be devoted to looking after her family in the future.

Matthew Ryan

I'm Matthew Ryan, one of the guys behind MannersAdvisor.com I am passionate about the world of good manners, etiquette and proper behavior to have on any special occasion. Here I decided to share my passion with you!

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