Get a signed copy of our latest book, Emily Post's Etiquette - The Centennial Edition, for yourself or to give as a gift, and support Vermont's independent bookstore Bridgeside Books.

Join our Substack newsletter for more from Emily Post.

Reuters: Valentine's Day Survival Guide Hero Label

Reuters: Valentine's Day Survival Guide

As Valentine's Day approaches, many people's thoughts turn to flowers and candlelit dinners but not to awkward moments when a date takes a cell phone call at the table or long pauses when the check comes. Yet this can be the reality for so many would-be romantics. Good etiquette says that one's attention should be undivided when having dinner with another person. This goes double when on a date, and triple when the stakes are high, such as on Valentine's Day. Cell phones and smart phones aren't rude devices per se, but when put in the hands of people who forget to switch them off while on a date, they become the object of dark stares and raised eyebrows. The same goes for texting. Why reach out to or respond to another person on such an intimate, romantic evening?

It's often not about people being intentionally rude, but rather forgetting about those around them when the Pavlovian need to answer a beeping smart phone calls.

Splitting the check, fondly known as "going Dutch" in days gone by, is incredibly common today and nothing to be ashamed of. It is also still fair to say that when in doubt, whoever does the asking, does the paying.

That said, some women like having their meal paid for, others don't. There is no right answer anymore, but there is a right way of going about paying, whatever the arrangement.

The key is for couples to establish how the bill will be paid upfront, long before the waiter is waiting.

It's not wrong to offer to pay or chip in, but it's best to stop short of fighting over the check. This distracts from the evening and puts the focus on money—not the most romantic (or polite) of topics. In the past, Valentine's Day could be dicey for men. Handled well, they are the hero of the hour. Handled poorly, and welcome to the dog house.

These days, taking on the arrangements is often an equal-opportunity endeavor. No matter who takes charge, keep in mind a few things: This article was originally distributed by Reuters.