Let's face it - we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be "perfect" in this culture. We tend to place value on things like lots of money, societal status, a great home, and of course - a great relationship. But when we think and worry so much about our future, constantly trying to shape it so we can "one day" be happy, it can affect our ability to not only enjoy and appreciate what's happening in the present, but even cause us to sabotage it. This mentality can permeate every aspect of our lives, from our work to our interpersonal relationships, and this includes dating. Because finding a mate tends to be such a high priority to us, we put a great deal of pressure on ourselves to find that "perfect" person, which often translates into us feeling we have to be "perfect" as well. Our standards when we're dating tend to be grossly inflated, regarding ourselves and others, creating an often false atmosphere when what we're trying to do in the first place is get to know each other on a very intimate level. So what can we do to try to keep the situation as natural and calm as possible, and not let our nerves and expectations get the best of us and ruin a good thing?
First Date Success: Keeping it Real
1. Commonalities. There must be some reason you agreed to go on a date in the first place, so by focussing on your common ground this will help build the interest and trust needed for you both to open up and get to know each other. If you both enjoy movies, or wine tasting or art museums, it's a good idea to explore these things together. This way you're in an environment you both enjoy, which causes you to relax and be yourself. If one of you is uncomfortable in your surroundings, it will be next to impossible for things to progress positively. Doing your research on what the other likes will help you plan a fun date and give you something to talk about.
2. Be interactive. We've all been on dates where the conversation has been one-sided: one person's doing all the talking while the other sits there listening and saying nothing - this is poor communication. The idea is to engage each other in conversation, and we do this by asking questions, and sharing ourselves through our answers. A 10-minute diatribe about our life's history is rarely interesting; we gather information about each other not just by the content of what we say, but how we say it, and certainly how we treat our companion when we're saying it.
3. Share your passions. When someone talks about what they truly love in life, we see them in their most positive state. If you want someone to see you in your most natural and happy light, talk about your passions, and find out what theirs are.
4. Do an activity together. It's a good idea when you're first getting to know someone to do something fun - remembering of course it needs to be something you both consider to be fun. When the focus is also on something other than just conversation (which can often feel a little stilted on a first date), it will redirect some of the nervous energy and give you something to talk about.
5. It's just a date! It's important to treat the situation as it really is - it's a few hours out of your entire life where you're going to try to get to know someone. If you treat it as an audition for a husband or wife, your expectations will most likely not be met. It takes time for people to open up, and remember that if you're nervous, they probably are too - you're in this together, and sharing a common experience.
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