By Bernhard Rosenberg
Over 44% of all American adults are single. The dating world can be very intimidating as people explore whether they are compatible or not. One of the biggest deciding factors is the first date. As they say, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression," and this is critical in the dating world. There are many different first impressions including personality and looks. Looks being the number one answer when asked what thing people notice first about their dates. However, before attempting to enter the difficult world of dating it is important to fully prepare yourself.
If you want to succeed in the dating game you have to be ready to commit to dating. Think about what you want and prepare yourself for possible rejection. Get your act together and begin a routine of looking your best, whether that involves a new haircut, creating a new style or joining a gym to build confidence. Face it, we always feel more confident when we look our best.
Try to surround yourself with people who support your dating aims, it is always easier to accomplish things with a support system. If all of your friends are single and out partying it may be hard to maintain a relationship. You don't want to go out looking for your soul mate; it will usually come when you are least expecting it. It is important to enjoy dating for what it is by joining clubs or going to sporting events to meet people and socialize. You most likely won't meet anyone staying inside playing video games. Most importantly choose those you have a good chance of dating. In other words, be realistic. If you are Steve Urkel don't go after Beyonce, it most likely won't happen. If you choose someone trendy or gorgeous, they will most likely expect the same from you.
The first step to obtaining a first date would be to break the ice and ask the person of your liking out. You've met someone great but you are frozen, so what do you do? There are three easy icebreakers to ease into a good, fun conversation. This is not the time to be serious; you should try to keep the conversation playful, so add a little sarcasm to the conversation. If a conversation is too serious it may seem like an interview, which can be very uncomfortable. You may even want to start the conversation off with a humorous line like "Hey, do you know how much a polar bear weighs? Enough to break the ice. Hi, my name is John." You can also try to comment on your surroundings as a way to start a conversation; since if you are first meeting this person it will be one of the only things you will both have in common so far. Lastly, you can make a situation light by giving a compliment. Now, this doesn't mean blow up their ego, but complimenting on let's say their bracelet can create comfort and lead to the start of a conversation. After that you will just need to maintain a conversation with simple topics such as: music, funny stories, favorite hobbies or movies. The biggest factor, however, is to have confidence!
While confidence is key to approaching a potential companion, it takes even more courage to finally ask them out. Most people are attracted to people who take initiative. It is important to work out the best moments to ask someone out. For example, do not ask the person out when they are clearly busy, stressed or unhappy. It is also smart to not ask them out in the middle of a group, this can make them feel uncomfortable and create awkwardness. However, it is important to prepare yourself for rejection. You have to understand that sometimes they may have a good reason to say no, such as already being in a relationship. Do not fight excuses, it can look desperate and usually when they make excuses it means they have low interest in the first place.
If they say no, don't get annoyed just smile and move on. Never make yourself too available, people like mystery. You always want to sound busy yourself and seem like you have things going on in your life. Be flexible and offer alternatives when asking someone out, such as saying are you free Thursday or Friday? If someone accepts your proposal for a date it is very strategic to choose a weeknight for a first date. During weekends you can potentially be competing with an exciting event they might have been planning to go to, such as a party, while weeknights are usually uneventful, which reduces pressure.
If dating is a game, then just like any other game, there are rules you need to study, learn, and follow. There are many basic do's and don'ts in the dating world. As I mentioned in the beginning, first impressions are very important, so following these rules especially on the first date are essential. Do plan ahead. It's nice to make arrangements and let your date know you put some thought into the evening. You always want to look your best and be punctual. Showing up late or looking messy can give the impression that you don't care.
Looking your best also boosts your confidence as I stated before. Remember to enjoy yourself! While you may be trying to find your soul mate you have to keep in mind that it is supposed to be fun. Do compliment your date on how he or she looks. Just like you, your date probably put a lot of effort into getting ready and it's nice to hear that it is recognized. Try to be interested and interesting! Ask questions, share stories, and most importantly pay attention! Do stay positive, even when the date doesn't end well. While it is important to only date people you are attracted to, if you are not interested in seeing them again tell them directly. It is not good for either of you to lie because it can be more hurtful in the future, instead let them down gently in the beginning.
There are many dating don'ts as well. Try not to look desperate and constantly text or call someone you've just started seeing unless it is mutual. This can be a major turn off. Again, you do not want to look too available. You still want to take care of yourself, pursue your own interests and spend time with your friends. Do not revolve your life around this person. Remember people with exciting lives usually make the best dates. Don't date the kind of people who've hurt you in the past. Many of us are attracted to people who are bad for us, but this creates unhealthy patterns and relationships.
Don't be late for a date. If you need to reschedule your plans it is important to give them as much notice as possible. And always apologize, it is inconsiderate and rude not to. Don't lie to your date about any aspect of your life, even if the truth isn't as impressive or sexy. It would be silly to ruin a potential relationship on a lie you simply told them to impress them. Don't give away too much during the first date; let your relationship evolve. This means do not reveal your innermost secrets! Please do not check out other people when you're on a date. Give your date the common courtesy of focusing on them, or they may walk out on you. Remember that manners will get you everywhere. Most importantly, first dates should take place in public places. You want to be in a comfortable setting, as well as take into account your personal safety.
As I've said repeatedly it is imperative to have confidence and most significantly to have FUN! The dating process can be grueling and nerve racking at times. It is important to know that mostly everyone does not get it right the first, second, third and probably fourth time. It is certainly true that you will date a few frogs before you find your soul mate, but remember that you will probably meet some pretty nice people along the way.
from the June 2013 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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