As someone who was single for most of my life, I’ve been on a handful of terrible first dates where everyone gives me the same age-old advice: “Just be yourself!” But why is that simple phrase so hard to achieve?
Anytime we meet someone new, we want them to like us; so, of course, we try to act like ourselves…but refined. This seems harmless and strategic, whether you’re going on a first date or meeting a new friend. The process of self-refinement can go too far, however, and this is where the issue lies – once you start, it’s hard to stop.
Many women, including myself, look up “10 best first date tips to get them hooked” or “what NOT to do on a first date” in the hopes of being the perfect date. However, when we prepare ourselves to be “dateable,” we forget the real intent behind dating: to find someone you like! When you over-prepare and study for your date like a test, you end up focusing on whether or not you were successful in being the perfect date and forget to ask yourself if you even enjoyed the date.
Many women are forced into this “date-mode” by societal standards perpetuated by the media, especially when they self-criticize about how well a date went: Did I wear the right thing? Did I make them laugh? Did I have something in my teeth all night?
Instead, we need to practice asking ourselves questions like: Did I enjoy myself? Did I learn something new from this person? Will they be a good addition to my already fulfilling life?
This is why it’s so hard to be yourself on a first date. We all try so hard to be perfect, and in the end, we can come out of the date fixated on our own actions. And by “perfect,” I don’t mean the outfit you decide to wear or the way you do your hair – I’m talking about how you act. I’m a people-pleaser, so I understand the impulse, but if you ever want to have a truly authentic date, you’re going to have to force yourself to be authentic as well, even if it means being vulnerable.
Ok, so now we understand why this seemingly simple concept is so hard, but what next?
It took me about 18 years to put this into action but, to use another overused cliché, confidence is key. Of course, you can’t Amazon Prime confidence – it takes years – but fake confidence can be at your doorstep the moment you order. It might sound silly, but just manifesting confidence when you’re talking with someone new is crucial. Not only is confidence sexy, but it also takes the pressure off, helping you feel secure about everything you’re putting forward on the date. Before you know it, you’ll have become the confident bad bitch you ordered!
So here are some tips to become the bad bitch you know you are:
Tip 1: Pretend you’re meeting a friend who already adores you! They know you and love you, so why wouldn’t you be your fabulous authentic self around this wonderful friend you’re meeting for drinks or dinner? Setting this tone, even just mentally, will make both you and your date feel more at ease.
Tip 2: Be critical! The best part about dating is figuring out what you like and don’t like, so don’t settle. This sounds obvious, but knowing what you want in a partner is actually really helpful when you start dating; it also helps you get to know yourself better. Seriously sit down and ask yourself what qualities your ideal partner would possess.
Ok, so back to being the bad bitch we talked about earlier (because that’s what helped me when I first went out with my current partner). When a mutual friend set us up, college was around the corner, and we were both happily single – we had low expectations for how we were going to get along.
Nonetheless, I went on the date, and for the first time, I was just myself. I wasn’t nervous or worried about every word that came out of my mouth; I was confident and excited to get to know him. Both of us being honest and transparent upfront set the tone for not only our date, but our relationship as a whole.
Yes, being yourself is very difficult. But it’s the only way you’ll find a genuine connection with someone. So, on your next date, make sure your confident, unapologetic inner-self is waiting for you at the table.