Dating can be rough. Not only does it get exhausting, but sometimes it's down right confusing. However, there are a few basic things you should be doing on a date if you're not already doing them that can legitimately make a huge difference in how the night goes.
I personally have experienced a lot of anxiety over dating in the past — but not because it's actually all that bad. It's more that I feel like there's so much pressure and so many negative connotations associated with it that it can be super easy to forget that at the end of the day, it shouldn't be complicated or stressful; it's just about two people spending some time together and hopefully having some fun. Yet somehow, with all the tips, conflicting advice, and constant overanalyzing we forget that basic fact and end up putting a ton of pressure on ourselves for things to "go well" or to have the most amazing time of our lives.
So in the spirit of relaxing, but also making sure you feel like you're putting your best foot forward when going on dates, here are seven things you should always do on a date that you might be forgetting about in the flurry of nervousness and pre-date jitters. These will absolutely help ensure you made the most out of your time.
1. Keeping Things 100 Percent In The Present
Relationship expert Steve Friedman on Match.com cautioned people about spending too much time talking about past failed relationships or bad experiences. "This one is difficult to avoid, as it's a common question posed by your date," he wrote. "The preferred posture here is one of mild regret, hard-earned wisdom and cool disinterest. 'We were headed in different directions" works, as does "I think I'm a different person now, interested in different things." Are those vague and murky? A little, but I promise you that they beat some of the more common responses."
2. Asking Questions... But Not The Usual Ones
According to a study conducted by OKCupid about discerning compatibility on a first date, the typical questions like, "What do you do?" don't actually help all that much in determining a lot about each other. Instead, they recommended thinking a little outside the box and mixing it up with things like, "Have you ever traveled to another country alone?" or "Would you ever consider sailing around the world?"
3. Keeping Your Phone Far, Far Out Of Sight
Nope, not even just sitting on the table. According to psychologist and relationship expert Guy Winch in a piece for Psychology Today, it's best to keep you phone in your bag — and definitely not in front of you on the table. "Checking your phone makes you come across as bored or distracted, neither of which is appealing to the person you’re with," he wrote. "If you must check your phone, apologize, explain why, and do it quickly—or just excuse yourself to the restroom and do it there."
4. Actively Seeming Interested
In a piece for Psychology Today on making a good impression on a first date, psychologist Fredrick Nueman noted that sometimes people on first dates make the mistake of trying to appear a little reserved or aloof to mask their nervousness. However, he noted that trying your best to seem interested and engaged is actually a much better approach. "Being interested in someone makes you seem more interesting. Waiting for something to happen usually leads to nothing happening," he wrote.
5. Looking At The Other Person's Mouth
Everyone always talks about the importance of eye contact, but according to a recent study published in Psychological Science, too much eye contact can make you seem off putting. Instead, they noted that optimal social interactions came about when people divided their gaze between the other person's eyes and mouth. It appeared that it leads to a much more comfortable and natural interaction.
6. Mimicking The Other Person
A study featured in the Social Psychology Bulletin found that we tend to like people who mimic, and that subtle mimicry indicates attraction. So if you want to put out good vibes towards the person you're on a date with, try adopting a posture or seating position that mirrors theirs. For example, if they're facing you with their legs crossed on a bar stool, try doing the same — you'll likely notice instant increased comfort.
7. Faking It
I'm talking about confidence, people. Harvard psychologist Craig Malkin said that, "Men and women both prefer a confident date, for a number of reasons," noting it's often because things like eye-contact and openness foster a stronger sense of trust than mild and timid body language or quiet conversation — which is often what a shyer person is more naturally inclined to do. So wear an outfit that makes you feel awesome and put forth your most confident self!
Don't forget to think about the above tips the next time you're getting ready for a date. And also don't forget to relax and enjoy yourself! Because that's really what it's all about.