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Notable Philippine Dating Customs That Changed over Time

A man adhering to Philippine dating customs as he’s courting a Filipina. Discover how Philippine dating customs have changed over the years.

Most dating customs in the Philippines were able to stand the test of time, while others have evolved to accommodate current trends.

To understand Filipino dating culture better, let’s try to look at that of the United States.

The dating customs in the United States lean toward independence. It’s safe to say that it’s more casual compared to other cultures. The decisions are made according to an individual’s choice or preference rather than being influenced by family members, especially the parents.

Most couples see each other in bars or clubs. And nowadays, a significant number of singles meet through dating apps. It’s also normal for a woman to ask a man out on a date. It’s also acceptable to move in with someone without thinking about marriage.

In the Philippines, however, dating customs tend to be more conservative. Family members, especially the parents, have significant influence over a couple’s future.

Traditionally, a man cannot meet the woman just anywhere; he may go to the woman’s house to see her. Also, it is unacceptable for a woman to initiate dates or to live with a man without getting married first.

Seeing how some of these traditional customs are no longer being practiced today, let’s take a look at how they have evolved over the years.



Traditional dating culture in the Philippines involves several facets, customs, or practices.

The most common type of communication back in the day was writing letters. Men and women wrote to each other to share their experiences and to express their feelings toward each other.

Another way to express their emotions was through serenade. This was usually done in the evening when it was quieter and the temperature was cooler, thus creating a romantic ambience. The man prepared a song, brought a guitar (or someone to play the guitar for him), then went to the woman’s house to sing for her.

The woman expressed her reaction toward him by either opening the window or keeping it closed. If she opened the window, that meant she was interested. Otherwise, she might play hard to get, or she simply is not interested in the man at all.


The internet has brought everyone closer. Smartphones have paved the way for us to communicate virtually anytime, anywhere.

Communication is mostly done daily with the use of a mobile phone, and it is much easier and faster to connect with someone, even if you’re in the process of courting or dating them.



Mostly practiced in the southern regions of the Philippines, a dowry was required for a man to get the blessing of the woman’s parents. He was expected to give extravagant gifts not only to the woman, but to her parents as well.

This usually happened in arranged marriages, which was prevalent in the southern areas of the country.


A dowry is still expected in some rural areas, but it is not as prevalent as before. Perhaps the closest thing to giving a dowry that is practiced nowadays is giving an engagement ring.



Couples were only allowed to meet in the woman’s house. This was done so that the woman’s parents could easily monitor their every move. Premarital sex was also considered taboo at the time.

The parents had to be extra careful so that their daughter wouldn’t get pregnant, as they did not want to be ostracized by the community.


Men and women can freely meet wherever they want. With the advancements in communication and technology, couples can communicate with one another without the restrictions of family members.

Physical Contact


The Philippines is predominantly Catholic. As a result of the religious teachings and customs, a man and a woman were restricted to engage in physical contact such as holding hands, hugging, and kissing, especially in public. They can only do these things after they get married.


Although the country is not as liberal as the United States, public display of affection has become more common and accepted, especially among younger couples. Hugging and kissing have become normal activities during dates.

Society has somehow come to terms with itself being lenient with such practices.

Modern Yet Traditional

As you may notice, progress in communication and technology has significantly influenced changes in Philippine dating customs.

While we can say that modern dating in the Philippines has become heavily westernized in many ways, we can still observe others adhering to some old customs or modified versions of them.

Let’s see the following examples to illustrate this point.

  • The old custom strictly dictates that women don’t make the first move because it’s the role of men to initiate relationships.

    Nowadays, however, a woman may try catching a man’s attention through subtle ways to lead him to make the first move. She may do this by stealing glances at him, looking away when he catches her gaze, then looking back to smile at him. Then again, some still consider it “inappropriate” for a woman to introduce herself first to a man.

  • Although modern couples can go on dates outside their homes, parents still prefer that their daughters be formally courted at home. So, out of respect, some men still visit the women in their houses.

  • Premarital sex is still widely avoided even in a modern society that has become liberal and casual in dating customs.

These evolutions showcase the adaptability and resilience of Filipino people toward social changes, specifically in dating customs. With this information, you’ll know what to expect before getting into a romantic relationship with a Filipino woman.

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