The Art of Dating

By Margo Graf

We live in a world full of likes, swipes, and retweets. Our fast-paced society has conditioned us to interpret information quickly, make snap judgments, and then share it on a platform. “Time is of the essence,” “time is money,” and “I ain’t got time for that” are all limitations we put ourselves under. This pressure to act fast makes first impressions important for a variety of reasons. From applying for a job, to finding a roommate, to selecting a babysitter or even a car…a first impression sets the tone of the relationship. It tells your gut your overall feelings–whether you can help it or not.

When it comes to romance, we have already made up our mind about someone within seconds of our cerebral cortex interpreting our feelings towards him or her. This introductory moment can make or break one’s chances. Since most do not have the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s sweet-talking abilities, a few pointers may come in handy. Since we have different “genres” of dating, such as Tinder, EHarmony, Farmers Only, you name it…it could help to remind ourselves to slow down and to think before acting. To encourage this, we have compiled some guidelines for those who are looking to enter the dating world or just want to seem more friendly and confident.

So, how does one naturally come off as friendly, confident, and an ideal partner? First, let’s start with the eyes. As most of our information comes through sight and appearance, visual interaction is key. Simply put: make the right amount of eye contact. If it is too long, then it becomes creepy. If it is not enough, then it becomes insulting… are you bored? Is someone looking for you? The same goes for smiling. Relax and smile a bit! Super nervous? It is better to be smiling about it than a deer in headlights. Again, smiling too much? Unless you are both having a terrific time and laughing up a storm, try not to seem overly excited.

Second, posture is very important. The firmer you stand or sit, the more commanding your presence. Not naval officer straight, but enough to show you have confidence exactly where you are. Body language is a huge factor in winning the heart of another. Make sure you are displaying positive energy. As quoted from 6 Reasons Why First Impressions Matter, “The quality of your voice, grammar, and overall confidence makes up 38% of the impression, and 55% is communicated by the way you dress, act, and walk through the door. (Remember to avoid negative body language such as crossing your arms, slouching, not smiling, or having poor eye contact.)”

You could be the most gorgeous person in the world, but if you have nothing relevant or interesting to say, it will be hard to captivate an audience. (Even if it is an audience of one, sitting directly across from you.) So, listen before speaking and keep the conversation going. Try not to talk too much about yourself. You may have just received an Oscar, but the conversation should never start with “I.”  Confidence over arrogance (humility, people). Next, ask open-ended questions and give better responses. “Nice” or “Cool” does not cut it; be interesting! Remember that the rendezvous is not an interview. Grilling your date on their past or present is not a great way to make each other feel comfortable. Leave hot button issues and politics for another time. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” can also wait for date number three (or four). The less pressure the better. The first date is about having fun and seeing whether a second date is in the cards.

When the date is wrapping up, it is important not to make your move too soon. This is usually on both people’s minds…are we going to kiss? The awkward goodbye is a classic moment in the dating world. Jumping the gun on a kiss or being too eager to see them again can make for an uneasy ending to the night. For example, in an 1837 assault case in England, a judge ruled: “When a man kisses a woman against her will, she is fully entitled to bite off his nose, if she so pleases.” Know your rights and read the signs before making your move. If you do go in for the kiss…keep it simple and sweet. It takes a lot of muscular coordination to kiss properly: 34 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles are involved. You do not have to show what you can do on the first kiss, you also do not want to be forgotten. Find a good middle ground smooch.

What if the date is going terribly? Do not panic, do not run. Instead, bring out the chocolate. “In 2007, the researchers at The Mind Lab showed that, for some people – especially women – eating a piece of dark chocolate made the heart beat faster, and for longer, than a passionate kiss.” So, if the person is over at your house–which you have just recently cleaned–have some dark chocolate on stash. It is also a good conversation changer: “Oh I forgot, would you like some chocolate?” It could get you out of a pickle and create a positive response. And if your date does not like chocolate? Get rid of them–you do not need that kind of negativity in your life.

Okay, you do not have to completely kick them out of your life. Remember to send a follow up text after the date, such as, “Thanks for tonight. Hope to see you soon.” This can go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of the relationship. Stay in touch with the person and be a good communicator.

General Do’s and Don’ts:

Do take a breath mint before meeting.
Do be wary of the balance between body odor and perfume.
Do dress nicely.
Don’t be late.
Don’t get drunk.
Don’t talk about your ex.
Don’t have your phone out.
Don’t have a messy apartment or car.

As another Will Smith character said, “When you’re wondering what to say or how you look, just remember, she’s already out with you. That means she said yes when she could have said no. That means she made a plan when she could have just blown you off. So that means it’s no longer your job to make her like you. It’s your job not to mess it up.” – Hitch

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