Have you ever struggled to connect on a date? Or felt absolutely nothing sitting across the table from a potential partner? Or have you ever felt a strong connection to someone and believed you were going to get another date, but the feeling was not mutual? Do you have a sense of what was missing or blocking a connection?
Or what about the opposite? Have you ever experienced an instant “click” or connection on a date or a feeling as if you had always known this person? Did you just know the date was going to lead to you in a positive direction together?
Connection is key to creating motivation to continue getting to know someone, determining compatibility, and developing affection and love toward someone. After all, the main purpose of a first date is to see if you connect, right?
Difficulty connecting commonly leads to self-doubt and a natural questioning of your own worthiness. Repetitive failed connections or an inability to connect during dating experiences can wear on your self-esteem and confidence. Discrepancies in perception of how a date went can also make your dating life feel disappointing and draining.
It is important to remember you are worthy and deserving of love regardless of your ability to connect in dating. What you can do, though, is take control of your dating approach and engage in behaviors that promote meaningful connection.
In fact, many of my clients say that “clicking” on a first date feels like magic, but there are actually certain mindsets and behaviors that are known to lead to connection.
Here are seven strategies to promote greater connection in dating:
Connect with yourself and hold yourself in a positive light.
Connecting with others can be challenging if you don’t feel connected to yourself, have a deep understanding of who you are and what you want, or have insecure and self-critical thoughts. Reflect on your personality, values, lifestyle preferences, hobbies, goals, and aspirations and take action on what is important or enjoyable to you. Developing yourself, honing in on your strengths and values, letting go of your flaws and imperfections, and engaging in behaviors that leave you feeling confident, content, and rejuvenated will aid you in feeling secure in what you have to offer a potential partner. Approaching dates with a positive mindset and self-image is a major component to connecting on a date.
Ensure you are emotionally available and ready to date.
If you arrive on dates with an ex or unhealed breakup on your mind or other potential partners floating around your thoughts, it is highly unlikely you are going to be present and open enough to actually connect to the person right in front of you, so it is crucial to honestly assess if you are ready to date. If you are ready, remember to approach dating with curiosity, openness, and positive energy and leave the past behind.
Reading what is going on in the moment is essential. If you go into a date with a specific plan of what you are going to say and what you are not going to say or whether you are going to kiss your date or not, and you are so focused on your plan, you are not going to be present enough to read what is really going on. Approach a date with an intention and then be open to whatever experience the date brings, making decisions that are right for you and your date in the moment
Calm your nerves.
Being nervous or preoccupied with what your date thinks of you also hinders your ability to be fully present. Focus on deep breathing, self-care practices, and anxiety-reduction strategies to calm dating jitters and ground yourself. Remember to use your breath as an anchor to get back into the present moment if you are feeling anxious during a date.
Utilize skills proven to build positive rapport.
Along with being present and emotionally ready, engaging in open body language, active listening (listening attentively to cultivate mutual understanding), eye contact, smiling and nodding during a date is fundamental to connecting. Focus on mirroring your date’s body language and showing interest through warm replies and validation. Avoid doing all of the talking or using an interview style approach. Make sure your questions are appropriate given the short amount of time you have known each other and model acceptance even if you disagree. When you ask a question, respond with something that connects you to your date’s words and emotions. As always, employ a non-judgmental attitude as connection does not easily emerge in the presence of judgment.
Be authentic, real and genuine.
Long story short: Being fake or dishonest does not lead to lasting love. Instead, it directly impedes the potential for connection and leads to distrust. When you are unable to establish trust, you miss out on a key dimension of relationship health and success. Also, try not to fall into a trap of wanting to impress your date no matter what as you may unintentionally come off as arrogant, self-absorbed or disingenuous. If being liked is your sole focus, you are missing a huge opportunity to connect on a real level. So, be honest about who you are and your relationship goals and if you are having fun, say so! Showing genuine interest is imperative.
Have fun and take risks.
Many aspects of a date are out of your control, so try to move through any awkwardness or difficulty with flexibility. Don’t let a change of plans, bad restaurant experience or a clumsy, anxiety-provoking moment ruin a great date. Share about yourself, be vulnerable and open, and disclose some personal details so your date feels comfortable reciprocating. The key is to balance healthy boundaries (being respectful, not over-sharing) with taking emotional risks. It’s okay if you are more comfortable listening than talking about yourself, or vice versa, but commit to truly putting yourself out there. That is how connection grows.
My hope is that the above strategies offer a multi-dimensional approach to achieving true connection with yourself and others. Aligning with your goals and values, being present, utilizing skills for positive rapport, being genuine and vulnerable, and taking risks in love set you up for a powerful opportunity to connect!
About the Author:
Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!