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Women: Your Brain on a Date

For ages, mystics and sages have told us that if we want to change the world, or our experience of life, we need to look no further than our own thoughts. Even American self-help guru Dale Carnegie once wrote, “Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think.”

That’s because we tend to see only what conforms to what we already think. If we think we are clumsy and unattractive, then that is the persona we project. Thoughts are filters that color experience and bend perception to fit a predetermined pattern, positive or negative. Taking charge of them is a powerful way to create the life—even the love life—you want. Furthermore, indulging in a flood of unnecessary thoughts is a terrible distraction from what does matter on a date: enjoying the present moment.

Here are four examples of mental static that gets in the way of successful dating:

1. Thinking about what he thinks. Trying to be a mind reader is best left to late-night cable television, not dates. If you attempt to read into his thoughts based on facial expression, gestures, or intonation, you could set yourself up for misinterpretation. Don’t try to get into his head—just stay in yours. As your first date evolves (and then a second and third), the man’s intentions will become clearer. In the beginning stages of getting acquainted, staying present in the moment is plenty to absorb and enjoy.

2. Interviewing him as a candidate for Mr. Right. It is natural for your mind to flit ahead for a moment and project an image of your date onto your idea of the perfect mate. But brace yourself, women: He’s not it. Nobody is. Nobody real, that is. He is himself, an unpredictable human being through and through. That means he may surprise you with attractive traits you never thought of, or be living proof that some of your standards were misplaced to begin with. If you allow your brain to spend the evening with a clipboard and pencil checking off yes and no boxes, you will miss the point: To see him for who he actually is, not just a distant second to the superman you’ve created in your mind.

3. Wondering if all he wants is to get you into bed. Sure, at least a part of him wants to get you into bed. He’s a man, after all. So the question becomes, is that ALL he wants? Some men make it blindingly obvious with hands that won’t quit and eyes that keep landing on places that aren’t your own eyes. Other men want to understand you, form a relationship, and respect your boundaries (even as they are no doubt thinking about romantic possibilities). It can be difficult to tell the difference between the guy who just wants some action and the guy who genuinely wants a real relationship. Here’s the bottom line: You generally can’t know at a glance. And you can’t control the outcome one way or another. So no amount of lip-biting and tea leaf gazing while on a date will make any difference. Put the entire question out of your mind and let it unfold as it will—and you’ll be more fully engaged in the present moment.

4. Fearing that you don’t “measure up.” Lots of women are really hard on themselves, thinking “Am I successful enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I slim enough? Am I funny enough?” Enough, already! On a date—especially with someone you’re eager to impress—your thoughts can become overwhelmed with thoughts about meeting some nebulous standard…which can quickly turn into feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. Before each date, give yourself a healthy pep talk that says: “I am who I am—and I am amazing.”

When it comes to dating, your thoughts can either be an angry swarm of bees making it impossible for you to relax, or a fragrant breeze creating the mood for romantic enjoyment and discovery. The choice is yours.

Ladies, are you distracted easily with thoughts like these while on a date? Have you been able to get over that?