Wednesday, December 8, 2010

First Dates Can Be Fun!

If you haven't dated in 10, 20, or maybe even 30 years, the prospect of doing so can be a little daunting. The rules have changed and you may need a refresher course. One way to learn is to jump right in and get on-the-job training!

If you change your perspective, this "training" can be fun, rather than anxiety inducing.

I could never understand why people don't like first dates. I thought they were great. Each one is a chance for a do-over. Now, a do-over is my most favorite concept, which I learned when I was 15 years old. I was sort of nerdy and unpopular in high school, although I knew others just weren't seeing the inner me. I was put in a box at a young age, categorized by my peers because that is how people usually relate to each other. No matter how I changed, no one would look at me with fresh eyes. When I went to a summer camp where no one knew me, I decided that I would be a smilier version of myself  -- "Ellen Lite!" 

My do-over worked. I was popular, dated the boy every other girl wanted and learned that we each can be so powerful in our own lives, if we take the initiative. I've used this concept of the do-over my whole life, recreating or reinventing myself many times over. To read the entire story of "The Do-Over", which is the first chapter of Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story, click here.

Consider looking at a first date as the ultimate do-over. Each time you get rejected, examine what you think went wrong and then change it the next time around. I'm not suggesting that you become someone you are not, but refine your technique, maybe clean yourself up a bit in regard to language, clothing and hair so that you put your best foot forward. Learn how others see you and if you don't like the way you are coming across, make the appropriate changes. 

Additionally, keep the following first date tips in mind.
1. SMILE!!!! Be positive.
2. Neither monopolize the conversation nor be as quiet as a mouse.
3. Use active listening skills, verbal and non-verbal. That means no wandering eyes.
4. Be present. In the TV show, Parenthood, the main characters who are having marital problems see a therapist. To remind the husband to be present, he recites his mantra, "I hear you and I see you."
5. Be careful with your words. If something can be taken the wrong way, it will be. Thus, first dates are not a time for sarcastic remarks.
6. Use your best manners, which includes avoiding blue language.

Most of all, just have fun and accept the date for what it is and nothing more, which is a chance to connect to another person and learn about him/her and yourself.

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