Ahh, first dates! The anticipation, the nerves, the excitement! For many, there is usually a mixed bag of emotions that proceed meeting a new potential match for the first time. Whether you are filled with unbridled confidence, riddled with nervous butterflies, or itching to get it over with, most of us (at the very least) are hoping it will go reasonably well. So what separates the good dates from the bad dates? There is only so much we can control in these experiences, but the way that we mentally show up is one of them. Staying present, being mindful, and showing compassion are key components of strong and successful daters. When executed intentionally, these three tips can lead to an extremely positive first experience.
Be an Active Listener: One key component of being a great date is making sure you are staying attentive and present throughout the entirety of the encounter. Making eye contact, asking open-ended questions and giving nonverbal indications that you are interested, are all ways that you can make your date feel that you are engaged and listening. There is a tendency, when another person is talking, to start formulating a response in our head before they even finish their sentence or story! Try pausing, reflecting on what was said, and responding in a way that gives more purpose to what they are sharing. Before jumping in with your opinion or YOUR personal anecdote, make sure you are spending 2-5 min or so immersed in what the other person is sharing with you. Similarly, keeping your own talking points concise and to the point can allow for a more collaborative dialogue. Pause between points and ask them what they think about what you said. No one person should be dominating the conversation. Think of it like dance, where each person is creating and carving out space for the other.
Give your Date the Benefit of the Doubt: For many, the first few dates can be awkward and anxiety provoking. When we are in a space of worry or nervousness, we might not show up as the best version of ourselves initially. Empathy and understanding are crucial when assessing how you feel about your date. If you notice that the person in front of you is a little shy, fidgety, or spacy, try to show them a bit of compassion and patience. It is hard to know where their state of mind may be! Perhaps they are tired from a long day at work, or worried about the impression they are giving off during the date. They may take longer to warm up and ease into comfort in a romantic setting. Refrain from judging or making too many assumptions about a person within a few hours of meeting them. The hope is that they would do the same for you!
Be Curious and Remember Your Strengths: Going into a date with confidence about what you bring to the table is imperative! Reminding ourselves of our strengths and worth prior to a date can allow us to stay focused on what really matters. “What are they thinking about me? Are they enjoying themselves? Will they want a second date?”. Oftentimes, these are some of the questions that run through our mind when we are meeting a date for the first time. When we attach ourselves to these thoughts, we allot most of our energy around concern for what the other person is thinking and feeling about us. This can cause a tremendous amount of self-doubt and self-consciousness. We are not mind readers, and there is no way for us to know for sure, so why even speculate? Those moments are meant for you to ascertain if THEY are a good match for YOU. Try shifting your attention to what you notice and like about them. Are they making you laugh? Do you have similar values and interests? Do you feel energized being around them? Keeping your focus on these specific things will help you to stay present, curious, and confident.