Be More Confident On Dates!

Want to be relaxed and self-assured when out for the evening? Try these tricks to nix nervousness.

By Natalie Krinsky

onfidence: It’s what we all want when we set out on a date so we can enjoy ourselves without worrying about blushing, stammering or sweating. So I set out to learn just how one can maximize this quality and make a great impression.

First, I asked some of the most eligible single people I know how they managed to boost theirs. I was met with several blank stares, one-word answers like “vodka,” and this comment from a friend: “I think of my most traumatizing childhood experience and
Introducing a date to a prized hangout makes dating less nerve-wracking, since you’re comfortable there.
realize that my upcoming date really can’t be that bad.” I gave her points for creativity, but was determined to find a better way to approach every date like a total pro (or at least with a positive attitude). What I discovered is that dating confidence is—gasp—actually possible, and not that hard to achieve. Here’s how.

Confidence booster #1: Pick a familiar place
Whether it's a tennis court, your favorite neighborhood restaurant, or that bar with a dozen great beers on tap, introducing a date to a prized hangout not only reveals something about you (say, that you have athletic ability or impeccable taste) but can also make the dating process a little less nerve-wracking. If you're comfortable somewhere, it will give you more of a chance to relax and focus on getting to know your date. A friend of mine, Liz, takes her dates to her tried-and-true neighborhood restaurant, because she knows the menu suits all tastes and the service is always friendly and reliable. Additionally, being able to guide your date — by sharing advice for a better backhand or by recommending a deliciously spicy Thai dish — can showcase a part of you that otherwise might have remained hidden.

Confidence booster #2: Date in multiples
Yes, I said it, and I’ll say it again: Date more than one person at a time. Not only does it give you practice, which translates automatically into dating confidence, it also helps you avoid premature attachment to one particular person. “If you’re only focused on one person, desperation can set in,” explains New York City-based online dating expert Ron Geraci. “You are invested in making that one relationship work.” He sees online dating as a great tool for this and suggests keeping several possible partners going at once (at least initially)—“someone that you’re actually dating, someone you’ve arranged a date with, and someone that you’re talking to.” What’s more, when you’re a little less available to the people you are dating due to having other options, you may find that your dates work harder to get your attention—and that can be an automatic confidence booster, too.

Confidence booster #3: Stand up straight already
At least 65 percent of human communication happens through body language; some experts argue that that figure is closer to 90 percent. Either way, how you carry yourself can not only make people perceive you as more confident, it can actually make you feel more calm and confident as well, since good posture promotes deeper breathing and puts
Dating more than one person at a time gives you practice, which translates into dating confidence.
less strain on your muscles. Check your posture in a mirror before your date—the goal is to walk, stand, and sit feeling as if there were an invisible string attached to the top of your head, extending toward the sky. You also want your head to be in line with your torso, not jutting forward. Now try to preserve that line throughout your date—you should feel (and look) terrific.

Confidence booster #4: Ward off awkward silences
Every savvy dater knows they should do a little homework before a date and compile a stash of conversation-starters—like the last book they loved, what they read in the paper yesterday, or a story from their latest crazy/funny/interesting/exotic vacation. Once you’ve pulled out these talking points, however, a conversation lull can still envelop your table, setting your nerves on edge. In truth, the best conversational confidence-booster to have up your sleeve has nothing to do with books, movies, vacations, or anything else about you. It’s a question that, tacked onto the end of anything you say, shifts the focus back to your date: “What do you think?” For example: “The last book I read was A Million Little Pieces. Even though the author embellished many of the details and lied to Oprah, it was so gripping that I literally couldn't put it down and I'm glad I read it. What do you think?” The formula is simple: Mention something you read, saw, or did, give an opinion about it, and ask for your date's opinion about it. It’ll keep the conversation rolling and your confidence at a steady high.

Confidence booster #5: Remember, it’s not you, it’s them
Let’s face it: We’ve all been on our fair share of bad dates. But it’s important to remember whether you’re on date #1 or #31: Whatever horrid thing happens, it’s not a reflection on you. As Geraci says, “It’s when people internalize a bad date and turn it back on themselves that their confidence suffers.” So instead of thinking, “Gosh, I really can’t judge who might be right for me,” say to yourself, “Man, there are a lot of weirdos out there.” Or, rather than thinking “My date must have cancelled because something better turned up,” tell yourself, “My God, people can be so rude!” Reinforce in your mind that all is right with you, and dating won’t seem like a test of your ego—just a wild, amusing ride that’ll serve as great cocktail conversation later.

Natalie Krinsky is the author of Chloe Does Yale.
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