Dating Advice by Jen Zajac, IMF
So you have a date -- regardless of your gender and if you were asked or did the asking, it’s likely you have some pre-date butterflies. We all have a desire to be perceived in our best light ("charming", if you will), and the pressure of ‘getting everything right’ on our first impression (or first few impressions) can be stressful. It’s human to want to be liked, and many often fret about saying the wrong thing or coming across the wrong way (especially if we have already established that we do indeed have an interest in the other party). The most charming dates are those that show genuine interest in getting to know their dates.
Here are some pointers on how to be a charming date:
- Give genuine (and not just superficial) compliments: Sure, everyone likes to hear that they look nice, but a slightly deeper compliment carries more weight. Complimenting someone on their dedication, motivation, commitment to a cause, hard work, etc., is more validating on a deeper level.
- Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves: Ask questions. Ask lots of questions. It’s likely that they will reciprocate, and this shows a genuine interest in wanting to get to know the other person. Up your ‘charming’ factor by paying close attention to what they are saying and asking follow-up questions. This really shows you are invested in the moment.
- No distractions: Being attentive and respectful to your date means keeping outside distractions to a minimum. Turn off your cell, don’t look at the tv in the restaurant, and if you run into someone you know, introduce your date and keep it brief. Nothing says “you’re not important” like giving these your attention when you are supposed to have get-to-know-you time.
- Show that you’re listening: Show that you are retaining the information they share. Some of the biggest ‘charmers’ I met were ones that were able to pick out a restaurant, movie, gift (maybe a bit farther down the line), or ask about some friend or situation I had mentioned previously. I felt so flattered and valued that they had retained those details.
- Be genuine: Showing your date some pieces of vulnerability at times actually elicits compassion and connection. Were you bummed when you didn’t get the job you wanted? It’s ok to state your disappointment. Part of being charming is being real. It’s harder to relate to a “perfect” person that has it all together.
- Empathize: If your date just shared something that was important to them, or had an impact on their lives, be sure they feel acknowledged. You don’t need to overdo it, but brushing past something when they just disclosed an intimate piece can come across as uncomfortable. If you want them to continue to share, help them feel like their disclosures are valued.
- Reciprocate with even levels of disclosure: The natural way people build trust is sharing small pieces of personal information, the other responds or reciprocates, and the process continues in small circles, each sharing a level deeper. You don’t need to go down to the deepest level the first few times you meet someone-if there is interest and your relationship continues, you will naturally build trust and share more.
Always remember to be yourself, that is your best bet on how to be charming. If you would like to be witty or clever, but that’s not necessarily who you are, a first date may not be time to first try it out. Focus instead on building a solid foundation of mutual respect and trust. New relationships are exciting and thrilling, so don’t forget to have fun!
If you feel that you have a pattern of mistrust, past trauma, or blocks that prevent you from getting close or attached to others, you may want to seek counseling to help you work though some deeper issues and enable you to reconnect to others.
Article written by Jen Zajac, MFT.