How To Be Your Best Self

by Kendall Wood

Failed first dates, unreciprocated love, lonely nights: We've all experienced a fair mix of these occasions in the dreaded quest for love. Setbacks on the dating trail are discouraging and hit you right in the self-esteem if you give them the power, but while bad spells and the wrong matches could happen often, the dating pool is boundless. Though it might seem like the search for a potential partner is sending you on a wild goose chase, there are methods to being more proactive in the dating game that make you more approachable, appealing, and generally open to a potential partner. The right person (or people) is/are out there waiting, and you will find that special someone when the timing is right – don't give up hope.

To offer guidance on the best ways to be more approachable and attractive to potential partners, I consulted with Tina B. Tessina, PhD, aka "Dr. Romance," psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences , as well as licensed marriage therapist and author of Jill Whitney.

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Below, Tessina and Whitney offer 11 ways to attract a romantic interest just by being yourself and honing in on your best qualities.

1. Be Friendly

Tessina says positive qualities include "friendliness, ability to converse easily, [being] interested in who he or she is, relaxed, and happy." Exude positivity in your interactions to attract others to approach and engage with the group, or you alone.

Whitney also says it simply: "What counts as 'attractive' can vary. Sure, some people are just beautiful. But other, ordinary-looking people can be very appealing if they give off a positive energy. Smile; be involved with what's going on around you." Immerse yourself in several different conversations; bounce around the room. Try to be the light of the party.

2. Maintain Your Curiosity

According to Whitney, "Everyone at any event has something in common with you, knows some random fact that you might learn, or has a story to tell. Sometimes you may have to work to find the interesting nugget, but if you stay curious, you'll find something. Each person you talk to will appreciate your attention. Potential partners may notice that you're pleasant, engaged, and treating everyone well." It's attractive when someone has the ability to connect with multiple people of different backgrounds and personalities, indicating he or she has strong interpersonal skills and a lot of depth.

"Curiosity is attractive. Be interested in the world, the people you meet, and of course anyone who really catches your eye," Whitney further explains.

3. Don't Be Too Egotistical

"Talk a little about yourself, especially when asked, but focus your attention on the other person and/or on topics of mutual interest," Whitney says. Do your best to keep an even balance in any conversation, sharing just as much about yourself as you are learning about the other person.

"Be polite, but not formal or uptight. Show that you have a mind of your own without being opinionated. State your own views on a topic, and then ask the other person's. Be friendly, but not pushy. Have a sense of humor without coming across as a giggly airhead," explains Whitney. Take interest in the other person, showcase your personality, and always bring it back to your true self.

4. Be More Personable

"Join in group conversations. Don’t huddle in a corner with a friend or two – you won’t meet anyone else," Tessina suggests. Like stated above, it's important to work the room at any social event. If you're in a more intimate setting, however, try to be the one to keep the conversation going rather than the one who waits for questions to be asked.

5. Practice Open Body Language

"Don’t wrap your arms around yourself, or cross your arms. ... Stand instead of sitting, if there are several other people standing. ... Don’t hunch over the bar or table with your back to everyone," Tessina states. Body language is extremely telling of a person. If you're closed off in a social setting, it indicates a low self-esteem or lack of confidence. Even if you are feeling these things, fake it till you make it and do your best to remain open.

6. Don't Make It Your Mission To Find A Partner

"You're likely to come off as pushy or 'on the make,' which isn't appealing. You're much better off making it your mission to meet interesting peopleany gender or relationship status – not just potential dates. To be interesting, be interested in others," Whitney tells me via email. There is a glaring difference between trying too hard and being interested in getting to know others. Discover how to express romantic interest without crossing the line of being overwhelming.

7. Avoid Being A Debbie Downer

"Gloominess and grumpiness are major turn-offs. If you in a miserable mood, you're better off skipping the party altogether," Whitney suggests. If you're not feeling like being social, don't force it because you feel guilt for canceling or have a fear of missing out. It's better to wait to present yourself when you're feeling up to it and can leave everyone with a positive impression of who you are.

It's important to note that when in conversation, you should seek to avoid negative topics with new people. "Don't put other people down, even in a joking way. That may make people laugh, but it may also make them wonder what you say about them when they're not around," Whitney says.

8. Avoid Being Overly Abrasive

According to Tessina, being loud and opinionated is scary to new people. If someone doesn't know you well, being over-the-top, as you might be when hyper or in a certain mood with your friends, could be a huge turn-off. Do your best not to deflect potential partners before you even have a chance to show them who you are.

9. Relax & Let Situations Play Out As They May

The cardinal rule is to play it cool, as Whitney advises, "To be more approachable, relax. If you're wound up or feel like you have to find a date, the anxiety will get in the way of being your authentic self. Breathe. Keep your eyes open for people you might be interested in, but don't make that your sole focus."

It's best not to sit back and wait for a potential romantic interest or even a new friend to come to you. Work the room, making conversation with anyone who piques your interest. "Don't wait to be approached. You can approach interesting people in a low-key way. Comment on the food or the setting; ask how he knows the host or what she thinks about a piece of artwork on the wall. Most people are glad when someone else takes the initiative," Whitney adds.

10. Always Be Yourself

"Good grooming and looking pulled-together count. But how important they are depends on who you talk to. Some guys like women who are polished and gleaming; others see a woman like that and think, 'No, thanks, she's too high-maintenance.' It's best to be yourself, not what you think somebody might be looking for," Whitney says.

Everyone's definition of attractive is different. Present yourself as comes natural to you and don't try to change anyone's opinion of you, attracted or not. Be your unique self – that's as attractive as you can be.

11. Don't Force It

"You can’t force someone’s interest. The best thing to do is pleasantly move on and talk with other people. Maybe Mr./Ms. Right will get more relaxed or re-think it and come find you. If not, move on. Pushing yourself on someone is just obnoxious," Tessina says. Overall, if your interest in someone isn't reciprocated, drop it. It will be best for your mindset and self-esteem, and it's always possible that someone will come back around.

According to Whitney, "Don't assume someone isn't interested in you unless you get strong signals that they're not. Some people are just shy; they may be very interested but too nervous to act on it right away. If the signals aren't clear, don't be pushy. Stay curious and engaged as you would with a potential friend, but not more than that." Treat any potential romantic interest as a friend from the get-go; don't be overly flirty or forward.

On the same hand, Whitney adds, "Don't act uninterested or unfazed. In fact, don't act at all — that's phony, and people pick up on it. Be your real, friendly self. If someone you're interested in doesn't reciprocate, don't take it personally. Dating isn't about making someone like you; it's about finding someone you like who likes you organically, for who you actually are."

When it comes to finding a potential partner, the search can seem utterly fruitless and even torturous at times. Everyone will have their highs and lows before finding someone who is right for them, as a number of outside factors contribute to settling into a relationship, like timing. Ease into the search with a clear mind and a light heart, and let come what may.

Images: Angela Litvin, Zachary Staines, Thong Vo, Atikh Bana, Fineas Anton, Henri Meilhac/Unsplash