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 following can give you some positive pointers on making a good impression and making your date feel ‘charmed’, but I want to stress the importance of being YOU. It’s natural to want to be your best self, but also being genuine scores the most points.
Think back to some of your previous dates and who you perceived to be ‘charming’. What characteristics did they have, or what did they say, to make you feel special or cause you to be interested in them? I tend to find that the most charming dates were those that showed sincere, genuine interest in getting to know their date, and gave them their full attention. People often feel the most valued when someone makes an effort to give their undivided time and focus.
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. Most are flattered when their date shows a desire to learn about things the other cares about. 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 or put it on vibrate, and if you run into someone you know, introduce your date and keep it brief. Nothing says “you’re not important” like taking a phone call or catching up with someone you run into when you are supposed to have get-to-know-you time. If you are expecting an important call, give your date a heads-up ahead of time. A major turnoff for a date is when the television in the restaurant get’s the focus. Make every effort to face away from the television or other visual distractions. There is something about intentional, captivated focus that is so very charming in a date.
- Show that you’re listening: Besides being attentive, making eye contact, and asking your date to elaborate on particular points, show that you are retaining the information they share. This is an eloquent way to non-verbally state that you care. 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, situation, cause, or family member 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. Were you heart-broken when you lost your dog? You don’t need to act tough the whole time. 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: Is the conversation light? No need to dive in deep about personal issues. 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. 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. For more information or to schedule an appointment, click the button below.
Again, always remember to be yourself; that is your best bet on how to be charming. If you would like to be witty or clever, for example, 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!
Jen has over 1,800 hours of experience counseling couples, individuals, pre-teens, teens, and their families. She has worked one-on-one with clients regarding tough issues such as relationship satisfaction, communication, infidelity, self-esteem, depression, phobias, life transitions, anxiety, family relationship issues, being bullied, self-injury, assertiveness, and drug and alcohol abuse/dependence.
She is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern IMF#73826 working under direct supervision of Jennine Estes MFT#47653.