When it comes to dating, you most likely want to impress the guy or gal who's whisking you out for a night on the town. But there's a fine line between making a positive impact, and unrolling a metaphorical scroll to read off your positive qualities one by one. Many of us get it twisted and think making a good impression on a date is all about proving how great we are. In reality, however, it can be anything but charming.
When you try to impress someone, it almost always comes off as unnatural. After all, your date isn't there to hear your achievement stats, or listen wide-eyed as you give yourself a glowing review. They just want to get to know you, and have a natural back and forth conversation.
But this can be tricky, especially if you know the importance of first impressions. "I would compare a first date to going on a job interview, as really you are interviewing each other in a way, to see if you might be compatible," says Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, in an email to Bustle. "Research suggests that an employer has already decided in the first minute of meeting you if they would consider hiring you. This is how quickly people make impressions, and how it shows the little things mean a lot to many people."
If that notion freaks you out, remember it's all the more reason to show up on a date knowing exactly how to give off a good impression. (Hint: it's all about confidence, positivity, and actually talking to your date.) Read on for ways to do just that.
1. Try To Win At Listening
Nothing's better than having someone listen (and actually hear) what you have to say. It's such a good feeling, in fact, that doing so for your date is basically guaranteed to leave a lasting good impression. "People love to know that people want to truly get to know them," Martinez says. "[Listening] is how we make real and deep connections, if one has the potential to be there."
2. Make Sure The Convo Is Balanced
Remember what I said about listing your positive qualities? While you want to pepper those in, you'll also want to remember to ask your date about themselves. "Conversation on a first date needs balance between impressing someone and learning about them," noted lifestyle writer Thorin Klosowski on Lifehacker.com. So start asking thought-provoking questions, and get that convo going.
3. Skip The Doom And Gloom
I know, it's mighty tempting to get all vent-y on a date — especially if the conversation is dragging. But be careful about complaining too much and coming off negative. "You don't have to whitewash your life, but you can be honest and self-deprecating without plunging into the darkest depths of your soul," said relationship expert Sara Eckle in More. If the date works out, and you guys get a bit more comfy and cozy, then you can start spilling the proverbial beans.
4. Avoid Argument-Inducing Convo Topics
You don't have to pretend like politics and religion don't exist, or act like you haven't dated anyone before. But these touchy subjects are usually best left avoided in the early days of dating. "These are things that can end in disagreement and immediate distancing, or make someone feel like you are not ready to move forward," Martinez tells Bustle. Bring them up, but bring them up once you know each other better.
5. Keep Dropping Their Name
It's true that a person's name is the sweetest sound — to them, anyway. "People love hearing their own name, and if you use it, they will feel more engaged," noted culture writer Anna Wickham on the lifestyle website EliteDaily.com. "Plus, studies show that using someone’s name shows them that they are important to you (that what you’re saying to him wouldn’t apply to just anybody), and so they are more likely to reciprocate by making an effort to get to know you better." It really is a win-win.
6. Remember To Breathe
If you get nervous on your date and forget to breathe, you'll likely give off an unattractive deer-in-headights vibe. Not only is this stressful for you, but it'll probs be the most memorable thing your date takes away from the evening. So do yourself a favor, and remember to breathe. "You’ll instantly appear more calm, and thus, more confident," said Wickham.
7. Make Them Feel Special
Ever notice how you don't remember exactly what your date said, but you do remember how they made you feel? (They made you feel interesting, they made you feel funny, etc.) Well, go ahead and reciprocate by making your date feel special. One surefire way to do this? Being fully present in the moment, and truly listening to them. "Concentrating intently on another person makes that person feel special," said Director of the Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center, Frederic Neuman, M.D., on Psychology Today. "And that is what it means to be charmed.
8. Don't Play The Typical Games
In a sea of potential dates, you'll stand out from the mass — and make quite the impression — if you don't play any games. By this I mean being direct, saying (or asking) for what you want, and resisting the urge to be too coy. "That first date is already filled with a ton of ambiguity, so don't pile more by trying to drop a bunch of subtle hints when a simple question will suffice," Klosowski said."If you want a second date, ask for one."
9. Wear Something Eye-Catching
Of course you should show up in whatever makes you feel comfortable, but consider some science when deciding what to wear on your date. "It's tempting to wear something dark and 'safe', but research shows men's impressions are easily affected by the colors we wear," Kate Taylor, Match.com's dating expert, told Sophie Goddard in Cosmopolitan UK. This is the whole "wear red to appear confident" mentality. Give it a try, and see if it makes a memorable impression.
10. Don't Let Things Bother You
If your date is going terribly wrong, rolling with the punches is the best course of action, according to Eckel. Think along the lines of the movie being sold out, or rain flooding out your picnic plans. Not stressing will earn you so many bonus points.
11. Have Yourselves Some Fun
Remember, you guys don't have to hole up in a cafe or bar and chat quietly. While this can be fun, and is a perfectly acceptable date idea, it's not the only option out there. If you truly want to make a good impression, then planning a more unique date night might be just the ticket.
If you follow these tips, you'll leave your date with one heck of a positive impression. I promise.
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