You’re on a first date with someone you met online.
You’re sitting across from him, talking and laughing, but part of you is on edge. You can’t relax. You haven’t been able to relax since you got into the car to drive here.
You normally don’t worry what anyone thinks of you, but dates are different. When you go out on a date, that’s ALL you think about.
What does he think of you?
What’s he seeing when he looks at you?
What judgments is he making about you?
Because you don’t have a spyglass that can peer inside his head and read his thoughts, all you can do is guess how he’s judging you. Thoughts run through your head:
I look tired. I shouldn’t have worn this dress. I can’t believe I broke out yesterday; I look like a teenager. That was a stupid thing to say. I’m hogging the conversation. I hope he doesn’t ask me how long I’ve been dating.
During the entire date, two conversations are going on:
The ACTUAL conversation between the two of you…
And the conversation in your head about what you THINK he’s thinking.
Maybe you’re unusually perceptive, but I can tell you one thing:
None of us have any clue what’s going on inside another person’s mind. Especially if we don’t know them very well!
Guessing his thoughts is an exercise in futility.
The energy you spend trying to guess what he’s thinking is energy that would be better spent enjoying the present moment.
But that urge to keep a running monologue of everything he might find fault with is powerful. You’re never as self-conscious as when you’re meeting a potential romantic partner for the first time.
So how do you drop the negative self-talk and enjoy the date? Here are 3 tips.
Tip #1. Recognize where those thoughts are coming from.
You think you know what he sees when he looks at you.
He sees the same thing you see when you look in the mirror, right?
The way you see yourself bears little resemblance to how you’re seen by others.
It all comes down to a psychological concept known as projection.
Because none of us know what other people are thinking, all we can do is imagine what we’d be thinking in their circumstances.
We project our own thoughts onto other people.
You think he is judging you for looking older or being curvy or having a few spots, but in reality YOU are judging yourself for those things.
You’re projecting the voice of your inner critic onto him.
Women who love and accept themselves, who’ve gone through the tough inner work of confronting their inner critic, don’t feel as judged.
They’re better able to enjoy a date, because they’re not worrying about their faults.
Tip #2. Take him at face value.
You can be so busy trying to read between the lines that you miss what he’s saying.
You don’t have to respond to his subtle hidden perceptions of you. You just have to respond to what he actually said.
Once you give up trying to decode his thoughts, you can sit back, relax, and deal with whatever happens. You’re not half in your head and half in the experience. You’re fully present in the moment.
And he can feel the difference.
When you’re busy worrying about what he’s thinking, it’s as if you’re on the phone while talking to him. Your attention is elsewhere. He can tell you’re distracted.
So try this on your next date as an experiment:
Whatever he says, assume that he means it—exactly the way he said it.
If he asks you out again, assume he wants to see you again.
If he says you look nice, assume it’s because you look nice.
See how it changes the energy!
Tip #3. Don’t use dating as an excuse to beat up on yourself.
Most of us get through our days feeling fairly competent and good about ourselves.
But dating brings out our demons.
Every bad thought we’ve ever had about ourselves comes out.
We feel unworthy of love. We feel ashamed of how we look. We wonder why anyone would want to be with us.
And then, when we go out on dates, we take rejection as proof that all those negative thoughts we had about ourselves were true.
When you understand that you are the one rejecting yourself—you’re just using his behavior to fuel those negative thoughts—you can start working on the root of the problem.
The root of the problem isn’t that men don’t find you attractive.
The root of the problem is a lack of self-acceptance (celebrating who you actually are rather than wishing you were different).
Dating shouldn’t be an excuse to beat up on yourself. It should be an opportunity to connect with people.
As long as you connect with a man—by being present, by listening to his words, by not getting lost in your own head—you’ve succeeded.