The most classic, useless dating advice of all time—which you've undoubtedly heard countless times from your mom, magazines, and self-help books—is to just "be yourself." The idea here is that if you're just super authentically you, everything will go right! You'll find a boyfriend, girlfriend, make-out buddy, lifetime partner… whatever it is you're looking for.
But this advice doesn't efficiently work. When you go on a first date, it's easy to come across as nervous or brash. If you do nothing more than "be yourself," odds are good that you'll end up seeming aloof, awkward, or a bit of a dick. Instead, why not choose to be the best version of you? We all fudge things a little bit on the first date or out at the bar. Sometimes we try to present a more polished, outgoing version of ourselves, or act less serious and more low-maintenance than usual. Is that manipulative? Kinda. But you know what? That's OK.
Rather than considering what you want from the other person, go into the date thinking about what you want for yourself, expert says. "Do you want to get to know someone new? Do you want to have an enjoyable evening out? Is this really just an excuse to try that new sushi place?" she asks. "Setting an intention grounds you, and it gives you something to fall back on if you start feeling anxiousthe moment. Just remember to breathe. What really matters here isn't even the intention or the breathing, it's that you remembered to do it. You decided to stay present with yourself."
Maybe you're already a confident person—like your close friends might lovingly refer to you as "a little extra." How can you tone it down to an attractive and harmonious balance of being confident without appearing overly arrogant? I've found that offering a bit of self-deprecating humor helps. As my roommate says, "Make fun of yourself before someone else can." A little joke can help break the ice and make you not look like a total douche. But be careful not to try out your amateur stand-up act on a date, expert advises.
"Self-deprecating humor is OK in small—and I mean small—doses. As in one or two jokes," she says. "It's easy to go from seeming easy to connect with to being easy to pity, and pity is not the vibe you want to infuse in a date."
It can be helpful to identify the source of your nervousness and look at it from a more distanced perspective. "If your nervousness is intense and connected to a detrimental cognitive distortion—as in, you're plagued with thoughts like, My date is going to hate me. Every date I go on is a disaster—then it's time to use rational thought to assess this 'hot thought,'" says expert. "Think about dates that weren't disasters.a mental inventory of the positive experiences and interactions you've had on previous dates so that you can formulate a more realistic thought. This can lead to thoughts like, It could go well, so I'm going to keep an open mind and just enjoy the experience."
Yes, you should pick out a goddamn clean shirt instead of something you found crumpled on the floor—even if the crumpled version is more "you." In person, there's no Face tune toyou look 100x hotter than you actually are, so yeah, it's worthwhile to tidy it up and pick out something nice to wear.
"You don't want to mislead a date, but you certainly do want to showcase the best version of yourself," expert says. While you shouldn't go and buy a whole new outfit based on what you think your date might like (that's getting creepy), it's OK to consider their style. If you know their Instagram, it's not a bad idea to check it out ahead of time—this is just a form of knowing your audience. You can see what your date is into, what they like, and what style they might go for. You shouldn't completely change yourself to be attractivethe other person, but if you notice that they tend to always wear black jeans and you happen to own a pair, there's nothing wrong with opting for a pair of your black jeans instead of blue.
Dating is meant to be a fun way to get to know another person. You may have some skeletons in the closet or a personality disorder, but your first encounter isn't the appropriate time to talk about your dope-addicted brother or yourfull of daddy issues. Too much information can be perceived as high maintenance and off-putting—if you're going to work out, there will be time to create trust and open up on a deeper level without fear of being judged or brushed off, but your first happy hour convo haven't the time or the place to get deep. People can be very snooty about small talk—"Oh, it's so fake, I prefer genuine interaction." Sure. But if you master small talk, you can subtly assess if you're interested in someone—without spilling your guts everywhere.
If you meet someone you really like who's outdoorsy, sure, you could pretend that you're really into spending time in the wilderness—even if the closest you've ever gottennature is drinking cocktails on the beach. And the truth is, this isn't always the worst tactic: If you're open to trying what they're, you may open yourself up to experiences you'll enjoy. This could be the start of youthat hey, you actually like kayaking, or whatever.
But there's an easier path: Just ask your date tons of questions about their interests. People love to talk about themselves, and this way, you don't have to pretend you know about something you don't, which can be stressful, frankly.
"If someone you're super intointo something you don't give a f*ck about, you can still ask them about it," expert says. "Why do they like it? What do they get from it? How does it make them feel? Instead of trying to bullsh*t your way through talking about something you know nothing about, you've just created an opportunity to really get to know this person better and connect with them. Which is never wrong. And who knows, maybe you never knew just how fascinating 18th century Welshreally is."
Look, maybe she chews with her mouth open or he's an incessant foot-tapper who openly admits to listening to Nickel back on repeat. If you're getting instant there's-no-chemistry-here vibes, then don't go on a second date—or cut your first one. But if the person just has an annoying habit or three, try to keep an open mind: There could be a really awesome person in there, one whose good qualities might overshadow any annoying behaviors. So ignore the urge to be bitchy—even if you've had three mimosas already at brunch.
If you simply had an incredible time with somebody and do not wish it to finish, tell the person what quantity you enjoyed the date and worship a nightcap or second date. If the opposite person courteously declines, leave it there for the night—if you are attempting too sharply to urge somebody home with you or to travel out with you once more, it is a large turn-off, and you may blow any future potential. Instead, simply import them for the evening. Seeing your sleek reaction would possibly even flip things around when the opposite person features a few days to suppose.