When you think about the singles dating scene, how do you feel? Excited? Intimidated? Worried? Believe me, I understand. You’re not alone. I am a professor, therapist, researcher, and author—who for almost three decades has directed a landmark study on relationships, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I’ve heard the same concerns and fears from literally hundreds and thousands of people.
I can assure you that dating and finding that someone special, as daunting as it may seem, is absolutely worth the effort! And, one thing I have discovered is that when you’re dating and you make a really good first impression, you increase your odds of a second date and a potential long-term relationship.
Making a good impression on a first date is a lot like doing well on a job interview. With the tough job market, it’s more important than ever to know that an interviewer—like a love interest—generally forms an impression of you in the first three minutes of the conversation. Most of us use small talk on a job talk as an ice breaker. But, small talk in an interview can make the difference between being seriously considered for a position, or not. During those opening moments, he or she is observing your posture, your level of confidence, your quick responses, and how you handle yourself in general. And, the same holds true for a first date. Just like a job setting, the first several minutes of a first date and the small talk conversation have a huge impact on your date’s first impression of you.
Below are 5 helpful tips to help you navigate through a first date. And, all of the below strategies are important for a job interview too!
1. Positive approach. Don’t talk negatively about the weather, sports teams, politics, or anything else. Smiling will also put your date in a good mood and generates a positive impression. On a first date, when the person asks you to describe yourself, don’t start with the negative or that you’re unemployed. Instead, shift your focus and say that you’re excited to live in the area, or that you’re exploring new opportunities in your field of employment.
2. Self talk. Don’t make the mistake of spending the entire first date talking about you. Instead, keep it light and interesting, and ask questions. Find out about your date’s favorite activities and hobbies. And, you don’t need to tell everything about you on the first date. If asked for your weaknesses, figure out how to re-interpret anything negative into a positive statement. Rather than saying, “I’m a workaholic,” you could say: “I believe in giving 100% to my job.”
3. No strong opinions. Refrain from giving strong opinions or making judgments. If your date brings up politics or another hot-button issue, respond with a noncommittal comment such as, “That is such a controversial topic. It’s pretty all-consuming, isn’t it?”
4. Relax. Before the date, take a brisk walk outside, breathe deeply, or remind yourself that your friends think you’re amazing. Feel comfortable with yourself. Your date is going to like you for you.
5. Use body language. You can enhance the impression you make by using body language cues that convey confidence. Walk into the room and offer your hand in a firm handshake. Sit tall. Look your date straight in the eyes. Smile. Also, if you like or are interested in the other person, be sure to use your eyes or body movements to show you are approachable.
Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka The Love Doctor®) is a relationship expert for OurTime.com, as well as a professor, therapist, research scientist, and author of 5 best-selling books, including “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship.” Learn more about her at: DrTerriTheLoveDoctor.com.