Dating is a gamble – you win some and you lose some. But it need not feel as daunting if you adopt a positive mindset and enjoy the process.
We have sent our clients on many dates and the feedback we get sometimes is things like “he didn’t pay for the bill”, “She was staring at her phone the whole time”, “she was talking about herself too much”, “he was perfect in everyway, the date went really well but there was no spark”. Some things are out of your control but a lot of them are in your control and avoidable if you know how to behave on a date and how to steer the conversation so that you are getting the best out of each other. Remember, ‘spark’ is not something that will always be instantaneous and despite what Hollywood/Bollywood movies portray, all dates do not lead to butterflies in your stomach straight-away. Spark needs to be honed and the responsibility rests on both parties – you get what you put in. Be mindful of your own behaviours and also remember people are not always fully themselves on the first date so give your date a fair chance.
Project 143’s Lifestyle coach, Chiedu Hing, has shared her wisdom below:
Flood your mind with positivity
What you focus on expands. Focusing on negative thinking is not advisable as it is more likely to lead to an unenjoyable date. Negative thoughts we often tell our clients to avoid are:
• Past relationships/dates (replaying events, feelings of regret, comparing your date with your ex, talking about how terrible or how amazing your last date was – why are you talking about this with a person you are currently on a date with and trying to get to know with a view to having more date with them?)
• Focusing on what you don’t Iike in a partner.
• Wondering who is going to pay the bill.
• Worrying whether they will like you.
• Focusing on not being physically attracted to your date.
• Feeling that you are not good enough for your date.
• Feeling that you are more attractive than your date.
• Thinking there maybe someone better than your date.
• Thinking you are running out of time.
• Thinking how to get one-up on your date.
Stop with the unrealistic expectations
Don’t have unrealistic expectations about your date, for example (wanting them to look as attractive as a model) or wanting them to make you laugh. All these negative thoughts and expectation will subtly be picked up by your date. They will sense your negative vibes a mile off – even though you might not think so. It’s these vibes which detract away from the potential to build a good, initial rapport with each other.
Instead, think about how you want to be seen, without being fake. What do you like about yourself, what are you grateful for? What makes you smile and laugh? What sort of banter do you enjoy? Bringing these joyful considerations to the front of your mind will help you focus more on your positive aspects and feel more in control of how you want the date to go.
Keep the conversation balanced, light and fun
Remember – it’s good to talk! A date is a 2-way opportunity to get to know each other. Under no circumstances should you bring your past into the conversation – if you want the conversation to be positive then do not go there! If you are asked about your past relationship then politely say its too early to go into detail this stage but you will be happy to discuss if things progress. Be open and keep the conversation balanced between how much you talk about yourself and asking questions. Use your quality time as an opportunity to talk about neutral things. Now, if striking conversation is not one of your strong points this is your time practice, so you can feel more comfortable with holding down a conversation. Always remember to try and expand on your answers, to show that you are engaging. Avoid one worded answers! See ‘James Preece’s Conversation Starters’ below.
Be interested – without quizzing your date too much on their personal life. Ask a range of open questions for your date to give open answers for example, what do you like doing on the weekends? Think about questions to ask which does not make the date feel as if they are being put on the spot.
Stay aware of your body language
Keep your body language open and relaxed – communication is said to be 80% non-verbal, that means that your body will have an important part to play during your date. Give eye contact – when you are talking keep engaged in your date.
Forget the expectations
Have no expectations. When you have no expectations, you cannot be disappointed. You may have read an impressive profile of your date, but the proof will be in the pudding. Instead of having a mental checklist for your date to live up to, go with an open mind, so what if they are shorter, taller, heavier, quieter, louder than what your mind had imagined them to be. Overcome your expectations by giving them a chance to be themselves and not the person you expected them be.
Leave your phone alone!
This should be an obvious one but, so many people complain that their date started to use their phone during their date. Would you start messaging a friend in the middle of an interview? No, so don’t do it on a date!
Get comfortable with awkward silences
It’s okay to not talk for a moment, even though it might feel like an eternity. It doesn’t mean that the date is going horribly wrong. Why do we have to continually fill spaces with conversation? Don’t panic that you have run out of things to say. Simply lean into the silence and smile. Use the time wisely to collect your thoughts, look at your date, what have you learnt about them so far? Are you enjoying it, if not why not? Notice what thoughts come up.
Stay in control
Manage your nerves by taking deep breaths to slow a racing heartbeat. If you are feeling overwhelmed with nerves during your date, take a moment to reground yourself. Excuse yourself for a moment to pop into the toilet. Give yourself a moment to take three deep breaths. Create a picture in your mind of having a great evening, notice how it good it feels when you are just focusing on having a nice time. Focus on having fun and make a decision to enjoy the rest of the date. You’ve got this!
If you are struggling to find anything to enjoy about your date – don’t worry. See it as a learning experience. What didn’t go well and why? What did you learn about your date? What could you have done differently to experience a different outcome? In any event the dating experience is one to be enjoyed – so have fun!
James Preece’s conversation starters
Dating and Relationship Expert James Preece has created a set of conversation starters. You will be surprised at how much these deepen conversation and provides you with a better insight into your date’s personality. These are things that will count not the personal assumptions you have made about the other person before you took the time to get to the really know them. It will also help to create some good banter and hopefully some laughs too. Remember this is just your first date – keep it light.
- If you were an animal, what would you be?
- What would your dream job be?
- If they made a film about your life, who would play you?
- What was your favourite toy when you were a kid?
- What is your guilty pleasure?
- Do you have any phobias?
- Would you cut off your finger for a million pounds?
- How would you spend your ideal day?
- If you could be a fly on the wall where would it be?
- What would you like to be remembered for?
- What is your favourite joke?
- If a magic pixie gave your 3 wishes what would they be?
- What’s the biggest risk you have ever taken?
- What is your most prized possession?
- If you had to wear a t-shirt for the rest of your life with one word on it….what would that word be?
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
After your date
Some of you may come away thinking you had the best time and would love to see your date again. Some of you may not have the butterflies just yet but have built up enough intrigue to go for a second date. Some of you may come away thinking that you had a pleasant enough time but you don’t think there is anything at all that sparked a further interest in you. Some of you may come away thinking you had an awful time. Sparks don’t always will fly immediately when you meet. To increase the chances of spark there will be work on your part.
Whatever the outcome of your date remember it is an opportunity for you to have fun and get to know your match. Keep it simple and enjoy the moment.