Issue #10 |May 2007

Live consciously. Create a life that you love. Attract the loving relationship that is "right" for you.

Today’s Topic: “Being yourself” on a first date.

Dear friends,

My newsletters often reflect the issues or concerns that I have heard from my single clients and friends. However I’m interested in knowing what other issues puzzle or concern my readers.

Is there a topic YOU would like to see addressed, or a question that is often on your mind? If so, please drop me an email and let me know what it is. If it’s on YOUR mind, then it’s probably on the mind of other readers too. I’ll do my best to tackle the topics that are raised in upcoming issues.

Shirley Vollett, BSW
Life & Relationship Coach

Something to think about…

“A human being is only interesting if he is in contact with himself.”

--Barbra Streisand

Do you find it challenging to “be yourself” on a first date?
Do you fall into the trap of insecurity about whether or not you’ll be liked or viewed as attractive? Does your friendly, relaxed self disappear, to be replaced by some stilted, self-conscious stranger?

If so, you are in good company. Single clients have shared with me the challenge they experience in “being themselves” when they are meeting someone new. This is particularly true when the “date” is a stranger, arranged through a dating service or an internet site.

While everyone wants to make a good impression, it can be counter-productive if you are excessively concerned about being liked. Everything flows better if you can “be yourself”.

Here are four tips to help off-set those first date “jitters”:

1) Simplify your expectations.

A first date is not about determining if this person is your “true love” or life partner. That usually requires a little longer than one meeting! So take the pressure off yourself and your date.

A single client of mine recently shared this realization with me, “The purpose of a first date is simply to discover if you are interested enough to have a second date.” That’s it!

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a relationship. Keep your expectations simple on a first date and there will be much more of “you” available to relate.

2) Plan some conversation-starters.

Perhaps you are “first date” shy and you worry about those yawning, awkward silences. If so, prepare some conversation-starters in advance. Think of some questions that you can ask a date that will help you get to know them.

You can always start with some general topics, that aren’t TOO personal, such as:

• Movies: “Are you a movie buff?” “Seen any good movies lately?” “What’s one of your all-time favorite movies?”
• Books: “Do you like to read?” “What kinds of reading do you enjoy?” “What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?”
• Travel: “Do you enjoy travel?” “Where have you gone?” “What place(s) did you find the most interesting and why?”

As the conversation progresses, you may want to ask more personal questions, to see what interests the two of you may share:

• Work: “What do you do work-wise?” “What do you love most about your work?” “What’s the most rewarding/challenging aspect of your work?”
• Activities/Interests: “What do you love to do outside of work?” “How do you like to spend your free time?” “What are some of your favorite activities?”
• Background: “Where are you from originally?” “What brought you here?” “Is your family here or elsewhere?” “Are you from a big or small family?”

You can brainstorm more questions in areas that particularly interest you. Having a few questions on the tip of your tongue can help quell those fears of shyness or awkward pauses.

3) Put your attention on putting your date at ease, and take it off your own nervousness.

Your date is likely experiencing a similar anxiety. For instance:

• Are you afraid of saying or doing the “wrong” thing?
• Are you worried about being judged as deficient in some way?
• Are you anxious that you might be rejected?

Your date is probably worried about all the same things. For many singles, a first date is anything but fun. It is akin to jumping off a diving board, without knowing what critters may lurk in the waters below. It takes courage – no matter how many times you’ve done it. (Or BECAUSE of how many times you’ve done it!)

Remember that your date is equally at risk – even if they cover it up with bravado or excessive chatter, as opposed to shyness and silence. Focus on making it easier for her/him, and you’ll reduce your own anxiety in the process. Compassion is an important dating ingredient – for you AND for the other person.

4) Rehearse some exit lines.

I often hear about two big worries on a first date. The first worry is “What do I say if I like him/her and I want to see him/her again?” The second worry is “What do I say if I DON’T want to see him/her again?”

Again, the key is to have some options in mind, so you know what you can say in either of these situations. (The following suggestions are examples only. Use wording and language that is authentic for you. )

The first scenario (when you WANT to see them again) is often the easiest. Some options are:

• “I’ve really enjoyed our time together and I’d enjoy getting together again. Here’s my card.”
• “I’d love to see you again and I wonder if you’d like to go to a movie/have lunch/go out for dinner, etc?”

The second scenario (when you DON’T WANT to see the person again) may require a little more preparation. You can simply refrain from showing any interest in another meeting. This may be sufficient, if your date doesn’t directly express an interest either.

However if he or she asks to get together again, you will need to respond clearly. Perhaps you can say something sincerely positive, while still making it clear that you don’t wish to meet again. Some options are:

• Thank-you for spending this time with me today, however I’d rather not get together again.
• I enjoyed your sense of humour/stories about your travels; however I don’t think we’re a good fit.

Be kind in your communication. And remember: You are not responsible for your date’s feelings.

If you know this person isn’t a match for you, it’s better (and easier) to say “no” in the early stages of dating, before expectations and bonds are formed.

There are many kinds of people in the world and you won’t to be attracted to them all, nor will they all be attracted to you. You don’t have to explain or justify your preferences – and neither do they. Your responsibility is to be clear.

Don’t let your first date “jitters” hold you hostage.

Keep your expectations simple. Plan some questions to initiate conversation. Focus on putting your date at ease. Rehearse how to exit gracefully. With practice, your anxiety will decrease as your confidence and attractiveness grows!

Shirley Vollett, BSW is a Life & Relationship Coach who loves to support and encourage singles in their quest to have a satisfying, successful life AND relationship.

Shirley offers Get Ready For Love! A Program for Singles. Clarify your vision for your life & relationship. Then strategize how to make it happen. Read more at

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Copyright © 2007 by Shirley Vollett.
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