Whether you’re revisiting the dating scene after a break, or simply looking for better ways to build connections as you explore the dating world, one thing is for sure—dating can feel tough!
There’s a lot of worry around those first dates.:
What should I order?
What do I say?
What on earth should I wear?
But when we step back and think about it, we might wonder—does any of that stuff really matter when it comes to having a “great date”? Heck no! It’s not about making the right moves; it’s about being authentically YOU.
Here’s how embracing your most authentic self, can lead you to enjoy better first dates!
We date because we want to get to know someone else a little better. We also want them to know us better. Maybe we even hope they fall in love with us and see us for who we truly are.
Why then, do we build our foundation on lies and half-truths?
You might be thinking, ‘I don’t do that! I’m always honest!’ but the statistics paint a different picture. In studies of dating couples, researchers determined that 100% of dating couples lie! 100%!
Now, it doesn’t mean you’re telling whoppers. It could simply mean you’re going in with a mindset to impress. Maybe you hold back from saying what you really feel. Perhaps you avoid certain topics in the conversation. You may dress in a certain way (get out those Spanx!) or pretend you’re interested in subjects you’re not. (“Oh, I love football!”)
It’s these little white lies and falsehoods that prevent us from making genuine connections. Engagement and intimacy are founded on honesty.
So, what are some tips to have better first dates? Here are four ideas that will help you enjoy a deeper connection on your first, thirty-first, and hundred-and-first date!
Before the date even begins, ask yourself, “what is the purpose of going on this date?”
It may sound silly, right? But how many of us really think about the purpose of a date before we go in? You may initially think it’s that you’re trying to get someone to like you or to believe you are perfect, but this mindset might not be so great.
A date isn’t a test of attraction. It’s an exploration that the two of you go on together. When you start to think of a date like an adventure, it becomes more exciting and interesting. The pressure is off to appear “perfect” (because none of us are perfect!), and instead, we simply enjoy the experience.
Like almost all experiences, finding our purpose and intention enhances the entire interaction.
When you go on a date, you don’t want to say anything controversial. You may be pretending you share commonalities, even if you don’t. You go, “Oh, I love jazz!” But maybe you don’t like jazz at all. Or you agree to a restaurant when it’s not your preferred choice. You do what you think you “should” do because you’re on a date.
Instead of worrying about the “shoulds,” start thinking of how to be authentically you!
This may start as you’re getting ready for your date. Instead of thinking of your sexiest outfit, ask yourself, “What can I wear that really reflects ME, my values, and who I am?” Make a statement about yourself.
Now it’s fine to pick the outfit that makes you look hot, of course, but it’s more about being aware of you being yourself. How will you really show your date who you are? How will you learn about your date as well?
This idea of authenticity can shift our focus and change our approach to dating. We’re no longer trying to capture some ideal—we’re highlighting our real, authentic self. The bonus is that there’s often a boost of confidence that comes from really feeling ourselves. Choose to do what makes you comfortable and in touch with who YOU are.
Many years ago, I got out of a horrible relationship and had just started dating again. I decided I was going to do dating differently this time around. Frankly, I was sick of all the acting that went into the typical dates.
I’d be sitting there with some guy droning on, “Blah, blah, blah,” and I’d be nodding along going, “Oh, that’s so interesting.” Let me tell you, most of the time it wasn’t interesting AT ALL. In fact, it was painfully boring!
But here I was playing along, and I thought, “I’m not going to do it anymore. I’m going to tell the truth. I get to decide what level of interest I show, and if it’s boring, I’m going to say it.”
The next date I had was a blind date that happened to be with Bob. I didn’t pander to him. I said what I liked and didn’t like. I challenged him in conversation. He was doing the same right back at me! It was really fascinating and exciting!
We ended up talking forever, and now we’ve been on a 30-something year date because that first date was focused on being real and in the moment.
I’ve had students tell me they like to think of dating as a playground, or as an anthropological study. They observe their interactions with other people and use it to learn more about themselves. They go out with no pressure and see where it leads. After all, what do kids do on a playground? What do scientists do in a study? They experiment. They see what works. They try different actions and test different theories.
If your date does something that bothers you, let them know! See what happens to the conversation. What if you say, “I actually don’t like football/jazz/Thai food…instead, I prefer THIS.” The worst that could happen is that your date isn’t receptive to your ideas. But then what? You’ve learned about yourself, and you’ve learned about your date, now brush yourself off and play some more.
Similarly, explore your emotions before, during, and after the date. You may feel fear as anticipation before the date. During the date, you may find yourself feeling joy, hurt, maybe even irritation or anger. Instead of avoiding those emotions, acknowledge them. This is again, where we can take a cue from the playground. When kids feel an emotion, they express it. They might get angry or sad or silly. They yell, cry, laugh, and move to the next experience.
Recently, I spent a week in Paris with Bob (still on that 30+ year date), and I was amazed at how refreshing and restorative it was. When I’m around him, I’m able to be 100% myself, and I know he loves me for exactly who I am.
Give yourself the gift of authenticity on every date. Approach the experience with a commitment to honesty, purpose, and fun. You might find yourself having the best first date of your life!
For more on building connections, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for our upcoming More Life Training. You’ll connect with others on their transformational journey and learn more about yourself. This is a great way to bring peace, meaning, and happiness to your life and relationships!
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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.