There’s something about sitting across from a good-looking stranger that makes us lose our sh*t. We think things are going great, but somehow, suddenly, we’re spouting word vomit or choking on words we can’t spit out. It happens to everyone.
Dating makes you vulnerable no matter how confident you are. No matter what might’ve negatively affected your past dating experiences, learning to stay present will facilitate a comfortable, enjoyable date every time.
Here are five tips for staying grounded and actually having fun on your next date:
1. Embrace the silence.
People get freaked out about finding the right words on a date, but conversation anxiety can be cured with a simple fix: Embrace the silence.
Talk to yourself before your next date. Tell yourself to look forward to the pauses in conversation, considering them as opportunities to breathe calmly and think about interesting topics you might share with your date. It’ll keep you centered and relaxed.
The calmer you are, the more comfortable your date will be. Then you’ll notice how relaxed they look, which boosts your confidence, which boosts their confidence and leads to an effortlessly amazing date. It’s a beautiful cycle of shared energy.
2. Check your body language.
People don’t naturally face off with each other unless the situation is intense; think confrontations, negotiations, and sex. Every movement and expression needs to be noted in those circumstances. But for casual settings, like dates, the face-off can bring unexpected pressure and tension to what should be a lighthearted interaction.
If you don’t intend to jump across the table to ravage your date (tempting as it may be), try sitting beside them or at an angle. This will help you both relax into easier conversation and feel physically at ease.
3. Remember that you have nothing to prove.
Your good-enoughness is an indisputable fact of life. Remind yourself of this in conversational lulls to help yourself stay calm and present. Once you internalize this truth, you can redirect all of your energy to being and enjoying yourself.
Convincing someone to like you is both pointless and impossible.
You’re one in 7 billion people, and the person you’ll spend your life with wants the qualities of that person. All of your idiosyncrasies, eccentricities, and contradictions will be the thing that intoxicates the person intended to love you unconditionally. So if your date can’t appreciate that, f*ck them. I mean, don’t f*ck them—you get what I’m saying.
When you’re comfortable with your worth, you’ll naturally arouse the curiosity of your date and compel them to reach out and unravel your mystery. So, pep yourself up before your date. Remind yourself how worthy and good you really are. This will build the self-esteem that fuels an extraordinary date.
4. Remember that you don’t know your date.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people give way too much information.
It doesn’t matter if you feel like you’ve known them for years. It doesn’t matter if you think you can trust them. If you don’t know a person intimately through time and shared experience, they can only be trusted with a limited amount of personal information.
Your romantic history, for instance: off limits. If someone hasn’t earned your trust, that type of info becomes a burden to the giver and the receiver. You’ll feel overexposed, and they’ll feel imposed upon.
So, keep it light. Make the first few dates about revealing your personality, your humor, your preferences, and your badassery. Let your date reach out to learn the basics, and only share what they have a right to know. This will keep you from attempting to cram words back into your mouth.
5. Remember your objectives.
Your objectives on a date are to have fun, to connect with another person, and to discover whether that person has what it takes to be a reliable and decent friend.
Good food, dancing, and music cover the first objective. Revealing little glimpses of your personality and character assure the second. But the third objective is the least accomplished and least known.
To clarify: There’s no point in dating someone you don’t admire. It’s not OK to see someone you couldn’t see yourself growing with. And it’s impossible to know those things if you haven’t been friends long enough to tell.
So, keep the friendship perspective in mind on your first five (and 50) dates, asking yourself questions like these:
Is this person reliable? Are they honest? Are the driven to succeed? Are they disciplined? Are they lifelong learners? Do they actively listen and take time to formulate their response, or do they only wait to talk? Do they talk over you? Are they sensible? Are they children at heart? Are they curious? Are they humble? Are they vulnerable?
Those questions reveal the making of a true friend: The only kind of person worth dating. So keep that third objective front of mind on your first five dates. If they lack the qualities that make a trustworthy friend, let them go before you find yourself stuck in a toxic romance.
Every date you go on, starting now, can be the best of your life if you focus on your self-worth, embrace silence, breathe, aim to make a friend, and stay present. You’ll have more fun. You’ll become bolder. And you’ll dramatically increase the chance of finding a great person to spend your life with.