Getting Real:
It’s OK to Be Yourself
on a First Date

Read this post if this sounds like you:

  • First dates are hard!
  • I want to explore the world and meet new people.
  • Sometimes it’s not that easy to “just be yourself.”
  • I want to get more out of my dating life.
  • I want to more real human connections in my life.
  • I want to be ready to really get myself out there.

Remember MTV’s Real World? The tagline always went something like this: “find out what happens…when people stop being polite…and start getting real.” Time to get real. Let’s talk about the “real world” of dating.


 

How often have you psyched yourself up for a first date by getting into the mindset that you’re going to put your best self forward? BUT, are you really putting your true self out there? OR are you actually psyching yourself up to trick or dupe the other person into believing you’re that someone they want you to be?

Ok, so everyone puts on a bit of a show on any first date. Most of us wouldn’t show up un-showered and in sweatpants, ready to spend the night showing off cellphone pics of our cat. However, six months or a year down the road, there’s definitely going to be a Sunday afternoon where you find yourself on your couch in those pants, looking at pictures of Mr. Fluffers. Reality happens…eventually.

So WHY do we work so damn hard to hide it at first?

I’m not just talking about the silly sweatpants scenario, either. On a first date, we may think, “I’ll order something healthy, so he’ll know I’m a healthy eater,” or “I’ll talk about my promotion at work, so she’ll know I’m a hard worker.”

We’re striving to be a version of ourselves we think the other person wants, but really, shouldn’t we just let our freak flag fly?

When do we stop being polite and start getting real? And how?!

How To Break Your Barriers & Really Be Yourself!

If you’ve ever been told you’re high-maintenance, too assertive, too nice, or another extreme, you probably have some negative self-talk going on in your head. On a first or second date, this same voice may tell you not to speak up when something rubs you the wrong way because your date might think you’re being a bitch. This voice also might suggest you ask for dressing on the side, so your date doesn’t think you’re high maintenance.

Tell that voice to hush! It’s perfectly okay to ask for what you want and to speak up for the things you desire and prefer. More than just being okay, it’s really important!

There’s a certain level of decorum in “polite society” that says you shouldn’t do anything totally out there, particularly when meeting a new person or on a first date. Try thinking about it this way: Yes, first impressions count—but not for everything and rarely are they accurate.

So be yourself. Really! Expressing your likes and dislikes can accelerate relationship challenges, but they can also get us past that surface interaction and into the real stuff. They can help us engage in conflict in a socially intelligent way, helping us grow and reach a greater potential.

And hey, it’s ok to engage in conflict! However, conflict is most productive when we follow the rules of engagement. (We talk about all of these rules in our book, The Heart of the Fight.) Two of the most important rules are to accentuate the positive and to eliminate the negative. On a date, this doesn’t mean we should tell ourselves “everything is great!” when it’s not. Rather, we should instead approach every situation (even the less-than-stellar dates) as growth and learning opportunities. After a bad date, ask yourself, what did I learn about myself from this interaction?

Date & Explore to Learn About YOU

Don’t limit yourself! Go ahead and try out a lot of first dates. Explore your interactions with many different types of people. Throw strangers into a situation (or an MTV reality show) and the interactions they have are compelling—they definitely bring some different personality traits to light.

Dating and “playing the field” is no different. By giving yourself permission to explore your rapport with all different types of people, you can discover so much more about yourself.

What do you truly enjoy about your friends? Are there certain traits they have that really resonate with you? Maybe their sense of humor, their warmth, their way of reframing things? Whatever you like about your friends, chances are there are some common themes, and those traits can and should be explored with the different people you date.

Not every date is a love (or even a like) connection, but every date has a human connection. To unearth the connection, you have to be authentic and genuine.

Challenge yourself to really let down your guard and explore what you want. What do you like about people—and what doesn’t work for you? How do you express those feelings?

Explore each new way each different personality works with yours and study your reactions. I’ve said it before: dating is a wonderful playground and a chance to really interact, have fun, and do some of this deep personal growth work. Dating gives us the opportunity to be real and genuine, and to express our truest yearnings and desires and see how they are met or unmet.

Exploring yourself while you have the freedom of being single allows you to really roll up your sleeves and discover and play. You can identify the things you really want and like—and discover the things you’d rather avoid. It’s all at your feet. You just have to get real and get what you want!

To learn more about how to be yourself, find love, and get what you want out of your dating life (and life in general), click here to learn more about our next More Life Training.

Let us know how your dating is going! Tune in to our podcast every Wednesday to talk about dating, relationships, and how to bring out your best self. Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio or here on iTunes.

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About the Author

rachel-zwell

Rachel Zwell is one of the core coaches in the Year of Transformation program. She is an emergence coach specializing in empowering individuals to increase their fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives, to achieve their professional and personal goals, and to develop their leadership skills. She coaches and mentors people to develop self-awareness, vision, strategies, and to build skills in social and emotional intelligence. She believes in full engagement and aliveness, and trains people to see and overcome the barriers that prevent them from living fully.


Featured blog post image “Flirting…?” courtesy of Flickr user Chen Shiang Khoo licensed under CC by 2.0. The original image was altered for this use.

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.

What Questions Should
I Ask on a First Date?

Don’t you wish there was a script for first dates? A standard set of screening questions? Have you ever seen the article circulating online detailing 36 questions YOU should ask to “find love”?


We’ve all read magazine articles like this before—promising the perfect interaction and happily ever after if we just screen with the right set of questions.

In reality, there’s no tried-and-true questionnaire for screening your dates. In online dating profiles, we do get the answers to some questions. But not all of us meet our dates online. What about the girl you approach at the gym or the guy you meet at a networking event? You can’t exactly ask them to fill out a match.com profile on the spot, just to see if you’re compatible.

It’s easy to make snap judgments when we walk in on a date. We look at how our date is dressed, we evaluate their jewelry and their habits, and we immediately have a reaction. Maybe his glasses remind you of your dad or her perfume reminds you FAR too much of the coworker who drives you nuts.

The truth about first dates: To have a successful first date (and a successful fifty-first date)—it’s all about what you put into it! What does a successful first date look like, anyway? I consider it a good date if I’m enjoying my own company, learning something new from my date, and learning about myself. When you’re fully engaged, expressing your yearnings, and being up front and honest about who you are, you can discover more about yourself and others—even if you don’t feel a romantic connection.

This ISN’T a Great Date

Sometimes “bad dates” can teach us more about ourselves than the great ones. The next time you’re on a date that seems to be going awry, ask yourself what’s really bothering you about your date.

Maybe he’s rude. Maybe she talks incessantly about herself. Maybe she’s condescending. Whatever it is, allow yourself to be fully IN the situation. Let your date know what’s bothering you, and see what you can learn from the interaction. It will tell you a great deal about how you handle being uncomfortable and the ways you shy away from or engage in conflict.

Not every date is a perfect match, but every date is an opportunity. Part of the joy and fun of dating is getting to know different people and getting to know yourself. If something bothers you, explore what’s going on with you!

This IS a Great Date

Many times, first dates might actually be going well, yet we find ourselves holding back. Maybe you don’t ask the hard questions because you’re having fun: you’re attracted to your date and enjoying your time together. Maybe you don’t want to scare them away by bringing up big topics like babies, houses, and marriage. Maybe you don’t want to find out they’re a homebody when you’re an adventurer.

Here’s the truth: a first date is a great time to ask anything! You haven’t fully invested your time, effort, and energy into the relationship yet. It’s a great time to find out if you’re on the same page and working toward the same outcomes so you can continue. Why wait until you’re six or seven dates in, only to be disappointed that you’re not really jiving on some of your biggest yearnings?

Some of us go into our first dates with our tough question ready—guns a-blazin’. We’ll ask anything, engage in conflict, and figure out what page they’re on. THEN, as time goes on and we become more emotionally invested in the relationship, we start holding ourselves back. By then, we’ve put our emotions and heart into the relationship, so we don’t want to be crushed when we get an answer we don’t want.

Relationships Are About Continued Engagement

In The Heart of the Fight, we talk about how you can continue to discuss and bring up your yearnings, engage in conflict, and keep the communication flowing throughout your entire relationship. For the first TEN YEARS or more, you’re trying to find your footing and you’re vying for control and understanding. Face it: if you’re in it for the long haul, you’re going to address these issues. Putting them off is just staving off the inevitable.

Dating is such an amazing opportunity to get to know yourself and someone else. It’s exciting to engage with someone and to learn more about your reactions—what you like, what you don’t like, and how you feel. Allow yourself to go off-script and get down to discussing what really matters to you. You’ll feel better about the relationship if you like who you are being. I want to be someone who takes risks, who tells the truth, and who gets to know myself better with each date.

Let us know how your dating is going! Tune in to our podcast every Wednesday to talk about dating, relationships, and how to bring out your best self. To continue the conversation on engaging with others and to discover ways to bring out your best self, click here to learn more about our next More Life Training.

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio or here on iTunes.

Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!


About the Author

Rachel Zwell

Rachel is a Coach and Executive Assistant to the CEO at Wright. She specializes in coaching adolescents, helping them navigate young adulthood and grow into their gifts and leadership. Rachel is responsible for leading and facilitating groups during weekend trainings. Currently, Rachel is pursuing her master’s in Transformational Leadership and Coaching from the Wright Graduate University.


Blog image courtesy Flickr user dickuhne.

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.

Understanding
Red Flags in the
Dating World

In the dating world, there are many ups and downs: plenty of fun dates…and plenty of awful ones.

But no matter how your dating life is going, as you get to know other people, you get to know yourself.

We’d like to tell you there’s a standard set of so-called “red flags” to look out for, but (other than the obvious), each person’s red flags are different. As you get to know people when dating, you may start to notice particular red flags that relate to you—and that list may change over time. That’s completely ok.

Dating is About Getting to Know Your Date…and Yourself

Ask yourself what you’re looking for in a partner before each date. Approach every date as a learning opportunity and over time you’ll discover more about what you’re looking for. This will allow you to more efficiently determine if someone is right for you or not…before you’re 12 bad dates down the road with someone you don’t like. The more you date, the more your personal set of red flags will become obvious—and the easier it will be to make decisions about which direction to go.

First dates don’t need to be filled with awkward small talk. Invite your date into your life and let them get to know you! Listening skills and open communication are important in all relationships, so be sure you’re listening up yourself. Be willing to be open with your answers to questions—and see if your date reciprocates.


Look inside yourself to discover what you like and what you don’t like in another person. Ask yourself: Am I overly critical of the other person because I’m uncomfortable on first dates? Am I being myself and allowing myself to genuinely express my feelings?


In new relationships, we may question each other’s motives and contexts. Plus, differences often come up—and sometimes these differences feel scary. All of these things add up and can prevent you from really getting to know someone.

A deep, fulfilling relationship is one where we understand our emotions and each other’s emotions, and we connect on the same level.

It’s OK to Be Selfish. Just Be Honest!

It’s ok to seek out exactly what you want. You don’t have to give everyone another chance. If you’re not feeling in tune with the other person, don’t be afraid to move on. Choose to be your authentic self and trust that interested people will find you and follow you.

We cannot change each other, no matter how badly we want to or believe we can. You can certainly promote leadership in the dating world by holding your own standards and boundaries—and this may rub off on others who are stuck in the grind of keeping those walls up.

Know who and what you’re looking for and go after it! It’s okay to be selfish when dating—this is your life and you are free to fill it with the people you feel build you up and meet your expectations.

Your Red Flags Are Your Own

Dating allows you to put yourself out there and potentially find a new friend or romantic partner that suits your needs, interests, and goals. Remember to define what you seek in a partner first—and note what your potential red flags could be. This way, instead of slugging it out and waiting until the fifth or sixth date to unleash a slew of annoyances and criticisms, you may be able to more efficiently realize this person simply isn’t right for you.

Remember that by being your authentic self, from your first date to your 100th, is key. You have the right to have what you want and to set boundaries that are meaningful for you in your relationships.

Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates– free!

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio or here on iTunes.


About the Author

table-img-6

Monica is the Admissions Coordinator and Marketing Specialist at the Wright Graduate University. As the admissions coordinator and head of marketing for WGU, Monica oversees recruiting, student admissions, customer services and marketing efforts.


The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Featured image via Flickr.

 

How to Know Which
Questions to Ask
on a First Date

Going on first dates (whether paired up by mutual friends or an Internet dating site) is bound to be a bit awkward.

Hey, meeting anyone for the time can sometimes be a little difficult! Many people wonder what questions they should ask their date to determine if it’s a potential match (…aside from the typical: “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” stuff).

Ask Yourself Some Questions First

The truth is, there’s no one right or wrong question to ask. Instead, you need to ask yourself some important questions first. Think about what core values you’re searching for in a potential mate and relationship. First, think about what you’re looking for. Are you looking for casual dating, or a lifelong relationship? Understanding yourself and what you’re yearning for increases your chances of getting it! For example, one of my core values is honesty. Sometimes I ask my dates what their impression of me is. From their answers, I can tell whether they are willing to take risks and tell the truth, or whether they tend toward superficial, easy, “nice” conversation. It helps me to get a sense as to whether they share my values system.

Don’t Be Scared to be Direct

Super-direct questions such as, “Why are you dating?” or “What are you looking for in a relationship?” can seem intense. Some people may be uncomfortable with this approach. (What if the other person is weirded out or thinks I’m coming on too strong?) Don’t sweat it. Your ability to ask the tough questions is actually about empowering yourself and allowing yourself to get what you want. Instead of playing all of those guessing games that tend to go along with the dating world, be direct right out of the gate to save yourself some time and more pain later.

Truly Listen to your Date’s Answers and Stay Authentic

Asking a lot of questions on first dates can also help lead you to understand your own deeper wanting and yearning. Certain questions may heed different results and will help you understand what’s actually important to you. Don’t be afraid to be a warrior: have high expectations. There’s something you want out of connections with people and you deserve to be satisfied. Be your authentic self on dates. When I’m afraid to be truthful and authentic on a date, it’s often because I’m afraid of being rejected. The thing is, I don’t truly want to end up in a relationship where I’m not being myself! I would rather be known for my true opinions, thoughts, and feelings, and eventually be in a relationship with someone who values who I really am—even if it takes a little longer.

What If I Don’t Want to be Direct Right Away?

Some people may be shy at first—I know I can be! Perhaps you‘re afraid to ask direct questions until you’re a little more comfortable with the person. The point is to be direct even when you’re afraid. We’re all dating with the goal of a connection with another human being. Playing a game while not being authentic will only end with a greater loss. Sure, putting yourself out there and being authentic is a risk—you’re definitely getting out of your comfort zone. But ask yourself, “What’s blocking me from engaging in the here and now? How can I get the support I need to take risks and ask the direct questions?” Discover these answers and you may be willing to up the ante. For example, do you have any deal breakers? Ask about it upfront and then decide how you feel about their answer.

What If I Feel I Don’t Like the Person at the Beginning of the Date?

Create value for yourself anyway! Even if you’re totally sure you’re not interested, you can still learn something about yourself and have a connection with another human being. Ask more questions. Maybe you will learn about what you like…or dislike. At the end of the date, whether you decide to meet again or not, at least you’ve given yourself the opportunity to put yourself out there and learn more about what you’re looking for in another person. Put away those snap judgments and allow yourself to be curious and present in the date.


All in all, being your authentic self and initiating open and honest communication from the start sets up positive expectations for relationships.


Hey, it’s ok to go on a lot of first dates! The idea is to meet new people and get to know yourself in the process. Meeting someone great should just be a bonus! Have fun!

For more ways to understand what you truly desire in life, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses geared to help you learn more about yourself, your career, and your relationships. So don’t miss out on the life you want. Start today!

Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio.

Image courtesy:Flickr user PhotoSteve101


About the Author

Rachel Zwell

Rachel is a Coach and Executive Assistant to the CEO at Wright. She specializes in coaching adolescents, helping them navigate young adulthood and grow into their gifts and leadership. Rachel is responsible for leading and facilitating groups during weekend trainings. Currently, Rachel is pursuing her master’s in Transformational Leadership and Coaching from the Wright Graduate University.


The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Dating Etiquette:
Just What Are Today’s
New Rules?

Dating in the modern age isn’t like the courting days of generations past. We’re no longer set up by parents or mutual friends (though that may still occasionally happen).

Instead, more and more people are turning to Internet dating sites or apps to meet potential mates. Sure, there are still chance meetings at the grocery store or karaoke bar, but the technology and attitudes of today have turned the dating world upside down.

With so many different ways to meet people, do dating etiquette rules still even exist? And if not, how do we even begin to navigate the 21st century dating world in a way that is truly authentic?

Current Dating “Rules” – Good or Bad?

There are plenty of advice columnists out there, but today there’s no real and reliable rule book or “Emily Post’s Official Guide to Dating.” Nevertheless, there still seem to be several unwritten “rules” in the dating scene today.

For example…

  • Wait three days to contact someone after a first date
  • Don’t text twice if the other person hasn’t responded
  • Don’t show up unannounced
  • Above all, don’t act too needy!

But are these really even “rules”? If you’re playing by these so-called rules, are you really letting your date get to know you? Or do these rules dictate a somewhat inauthentic way of expressing our emotions to one another?

Truth is, we each live by our own set of individual rules. What’s most important is expressing yourself authentically…but how?

Communicate About Your Date

When it comes to paying for a date—especially a first date—the general rule throughout history was the gentleman pays for the lady. As time wore on, it became more popular for dates to “go Dutch” or split the cost of the meal or bowling shoes or what-have-you.

But nowadays, as people go on lots and lots of first dates, it puts men in an awkward mental (and financial) spot, wondering things like…

  • Do I always need to take a first date to an expensive place, then pay to show I’m a good guy?
  • Should I assume I’m paying unless she suggests splitting?
  • What about just going on “cheaper” first dates…is that weird?

Truth be told, honesty and clear communication are the best way to solve this age-old issue. Yes, talking about money is awkward, especially when you’re first getting to know each other.

If you want or expect to split the tab—go ahead and talk about it! Getting it out of the way will make things much easier for both of you. And if expensive dates are genuinely your style—go for it. Just be sure you express your enjoyment with your date and don’t focus on the cost of the date if you choose to treat.

Don’t forget that some “cheap dates” can also be super fun! Try a trip to the local zoo or a picnic by the lake. A “cheap” date could be the best night of your life—dating is really about meeting and getting to know the other person, so it’s a great way to be sure the check is the last thing in your mind. Plus, casual dates ensure those nice expensive dinners and concerts later on are more special, instead of just the norm.

Whichever type of date you prefer, just be honest about it. Set up a reasonable date that most represents your authentic self. And hey, the financial cost of your date doesn’t equate to the value of the experience. Above all, simply enjoy the person you’re with and see where it goes.

Communicate a Clear Ending

Comedian Aziz Ansari recently polled his fans to determine how most people let their date know they’re not interested in going out again. The majority of people answered that they simply stop texting or emailing and hope the other person gets the point. Ouch.

“Breaking it off” is a completely common scenario when dating. In fact, all of your first dates except one—the one who ends up being your lifelong partner—will lead to a breakup, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself to stay together if it’s not working out! Either party may want to break it off, but if they never communicate their feelings, the end of the relationship is left hanging, or worse, they end up dragging it out for months, only half-engaged the entire time.

Chances are if you’ve ever had someone call you or speak to you face to face and simply explain why your relationship wasn’t working out, you most likely felt relief. Sure, confronting someone to break it off may feel uncomfortable and awkward, but it’s the right thing to do.


Why? Because the truth is, if the relationship is obviously going nowhere someone has to end it. When you authentically communicate that to another person, you may be surprised to find how much better you feel.


So empower yourself to be direct and honest with your feelings. It’s far worse to be dishonest and stay with someone just because you want to avoid confrontation or to go the old “flake out, avoid texts” route. Respect the other person and tell them it isn’t working for you—and let them know your feelings while you’re having the conversation. Remember, the other person may not be feeling chemistry either. Clarity and honesty instead of avoidance should definitely be the rule and not the exception.

The main point? When it comes to modern romance, the current so-called “rules” could be debated for hours. Looking inward at yourself and analyzing how you tend to act and feel when dating can be the best way to start defining your own set of rules. Above all, express yourself authentically through clear communication at all times while in any stage of the dating process—from your first date to your last!

To learn more ways to improve communication skills and get what you need, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses geared to help you learn more about yourself, your career, and your relationships. So don’t miss out on the life you want. Go for it now!


About the Author

Monica is the Admissions Coordinator and Marketing Specialist at the Wright Graduate University. As the admissions coordinator and head of marketing for WGU, Monica oversees recruiting, student admissions, customer services and marketing efforts.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.


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Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio.