Dating can be scary. We generally all want to put our best foot forward, which is tough when you're nervous. It's why it's always nice to have a few go-to ways to make a good first impression when on a date. That way you make sure you're putting out the vibe you want, even when you've secretly been anxious all day.
I have always (and I mean always) experienced anxiety in the days and hours leading up to a date. I've just never been one of those, "It's no big deal, dating's fun!" kind of people. But the thing is, I've always found that the dates themselves are totally fine — and, yes, often pretty enjoyable. It's purely the build up and self-induced pressure around the date that puts a negative connotation with dating in my mind.
It can make us forget what dating's actually about: two people just hanging out and getting to know each other a little. When you think of it in those terms, it suddenly seems a lot less intimidating.
If you feel like your nerves get the best of you on dates, or that you just want to up your dating game in general, here are 11 tips for being more likable on dates:
1. Banish Your Phone
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," Winch 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."
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, try subtly mimicking the posture or seating position that mirrors theirs.
3. Plan A Few Conversation Topics Beforehand
According to relationship expert Janet Blair Page, in a piece for The Huffington Post, you should always go into a date with a few go-to conversation topics in your back pocket. I always like to keep a movie I've recently seen in mind or TV show recs.
4. Ask Questions
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?"
5. Don't Overshare
Page also stressed the importance of not oversharing. "Remember that your date is your date — not your spiritual adviser or therapist," Page said, also noting, "Save your real or perceived problems and flaws until you know she or he is deeply interested in you or at least interested. The goal of a first date is to have a good time and to contribute at least 50 percent of the effort toward achieving that goal."
6. Stay Positive
According to dating expert Kate Taylor in a piece for Cosmopolitan, coming across as positive is super important. "Even if you've had the worst day in living history, remember to stay positive on the date. Most people are looking for an optimistic partner who takes life on the chin, so be conscious of appearing as somebody who lurches from one drama to the next. Nobody wants to date that person!" Taylor said.
7. Don't Talk About The Ex
Taylor also warned against talked about your ex. "It might sound obvious, but avoid mentioning your ex on a first date. If you rave about them and sing their praises, your date will wonder why you're not together. But if you slate them, he'll wonder if you'll be similarly scathing about him one day," Taylor said. Instead think about saying, "It didn't work out, but I learned a lot," and leave it at that.
8. Make Eye Contact, But Not Too Much
According to a study published in the Journal of Psychological Science, while a certain amount of eye contact is good, too much can have the opposite effect. I personally have found that looking at people's noses is actually a super helpful tip for dates — it makes you seem engaged, but not intense.
9. Watch Your Body Language
This is just a personal tip. Usually, when someone seems comfortable, it makes me comfortable. This means that when someone sits super tensely, or with their arms folded, I instantly don't get as good a vibe. Make sure your body language is projecting the energy you want the other person to be receiving.
In a piece for Match.com, Patti Feinstein, founder of America’s Dating Coach, recommended planning an activity that requires you to touch, like ice skating, or snuggling on a ferris wheel. "This human contact creates instant, effortless connection that never feels forced," Feinstein said.
11. Be Direct About What You Want
This last one is a personal tip as well. Nothing is more frustrating than when someone is coy at the end of a date. It can feel like someone is playing a game, or makes you leave the encounter feeling super unsure. If you had a good time and would like to see the other person again, just say so! At least then you won't be left wondering if you sent a mixed signal.
Dating can be rough, but don't make it rougher than it has to be! Keep a few of these tips for making a good impression in your back pocket to help you give off the best energy possible. And remember, enjoy yourself! Because isn't that really the point?