There’s a common misconception that dating is like interviewing. While both dating and interviewing tend to make people nervous, most people don’t enjoy being interrogated or talking exclusively about work on a first date. How do successful daters transition from formal work mode into a more relaxed dating mode? Here are some tips on how to be yourself on a first date.
Before the date
Research your date spot – If you have time, check out the date location a day or two before to get a feel for the setup, ambiance and menu. Identify the best tables in the bar or restaurant, determine which of your outfits would make you feel most comfortable in this location, and scan the menu ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about what you’ll want to order. If you are planning the date, pick a place you’ve been to many times before where you feel comfortable and confident. Your date will likely be impressed if you are on a first-name basis with the waiters.
Brush up on your date’s interests – If you have met your date through a matchmaker, friend or online dating service, you probably know a few of their interests. Do a quick Google search on their favorite sports team, the place where they volunteer or the location where they just went on a long trip. Having a few talking points on your date’s interests in your back pocket will ease your first date jitters and show them that you’re interested in getting to know them better.
Exercise – It’s hard not to be in a great mood after completing a solid workout while listening to your favorite energizing playlist. Make time to go for a run, pump iron or do a spin class before a first date to help you feel confident and refreshed. With endorphins flowing and a post-workout glow on your face, you will feel more relaxed after having burned off your nervous energy before the date. Let your date know that you just came from a workout, and they will probably appreciate your commitment to health and physical fitness. In addition to working out, or instead of it if working out isn’t your thing…
Do something you love – Do something that is SO YOU, whether that is getting fresh air at a farmer’s market, cooking something to feel accomplished, talking to a friend or relative, meditating and relaxing with a bath or book or watching your favorite movie. The possibilities are endless, but do something that makes you smile so you’re grounded in who you are before heading out. This will help the real you come out when you are face-to-face with your date.
During the date
Be an engaged listener – Ask open-ended questions about travel, passions, family and what they did last weekend. “Tell me about yourself” is a great opener because it gives your date the opportunity to let you know what is most important to them. “Teach me something I don’t already know” is also a great way to learn about your date’s hidden talents. Ask questions about things you are genuinely interested in learning. And make sure that the conversation is not one-sided – if you have been asking your date a bunch of questions about their woodworking hobby, sit back and wait for him or her to ask you about yourself.
Give physical clues if you are interested – If you’re having a great time, make eye contact and consider innocently touching your date to let them know that you are attracted to them. Grazing your hand along your date’s lower back as you walk to your table or briefly touching their or arm after they make a funny joke will make your date feel comfortable and admired. Making great eye and physical contact during a first date lets your date know that you are interested in them and will help secure Date #2.
Be Vulnerable – Just because you don’t know a person well doesn’t mean that you should just nod and smile all night regardless of what’s going on in your head. Feeling anxious? Had a terrible day at work? Feeling butterflies? Worried about jumping into a new relationship so quickly after your last? Talk to your date about it. It’s more fulfilling to go on a first date with a real person than someone who doesn’t speak their mind. Vulnerability is sexy.
Be Flexible – Make a plan before your date, but be ready to throw it out the window depending on how things are going. If the date is going well, consider grabbing dinner even though you planned on drinks, or propose going on a long walk even if you planned on seeing a movie. Whether or not you planned the date, the proposed itinerary is merely a suggestion, and you should do what feels right in the moment. Dating is not a math problem to be solved – you need to feel your way through it stay true to yourself.
Most importantly, remember to to enjoy yourself and keep in mind how lucky your date is to be spending time with you. If you have a great time on the date, let your date know in person or in a text or call after you get home. Before, during and after a first date, be honest, be real, be yourself.