Who you are isn’t set in stone. We all have innate traits, personality quirks which will characterize us for the rest of our lives. But we also lives on a spectrum. We all know what it’s like to “wake up on the right side of the bed”. For reasons that are unclear, we feel great: centered, happy, able to live life just as we like. Those days are nice when they happen, but most of us don’t have a lot of control over when they show up. When you’re not feeling like your best self, dating can be really challenging. We say and do things we regret, and feel like we aren’t getting anywhere with this whole dating thing. Fortunately, there are skills which can be learned to do better, being our best selves with the people we date and have relationships with. Here are a few things to think about.
1) Get Out of Your Head. Whether you’re just in a casual online chat or in bed with someone for the very first time, it’s important not to overthink things. When we get caught up in analyzing the situation as it’s happening, we can’t act like healthy normal people. Imagine something you did in the past that you’re really proud of, be it a touchdown in high school, a really amazing pie you baked, or the time you saved that kid’s life through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. In that moment, you probably weren’t being self-conscious – you were just acting on instinct. Finding a way to get into your groove is a great way to approach dating. It can be hard to find your flow and keep it, but this is the kind of mindset which makes relationships work, whether they’re brand new or have been around for awhile.
2) Be Interested. Interesting people make good dates. And interesting people become interesting by first being interested – in other people, in knowledge in general, in anything novel and exciting. Everybody has interests and passions. If you are on a date with someone you don’t know very well, one of the best ways to make this a success is to get the other person talking. Hopefully you’ll find some common ground, where both of you can contribute information that interests the other person. Once this gets going, you might be home free.
3) Do Your Homework. It takes work to be an emotionally healthy person. When you’re on your own, do some of this work so you’re ready when the relationship is at center stage. If you know that certain aspects of your personality are problematic – like anger or self-centeredness – have strategies in place to compensate for these in a healthy way. If you have some emotional baggage, as we all do, deal with it on your own. You don’t have to keep your feelings bottled up from someone you’re in a relationship, but neither should that person have to act like your therapist.
It takes work to be a supremely datable person. Not all of us get it right all the time. But simply by putting in the work, you’ll be doing a better job than a lot of people, and you’ll likely stand out from the crowd. Good luck!