As a human behavior expert with a Ph.D. in psychology and masters and doctorate in education, I am often asked for advice about the art of dating. Whether you are single, divorced, or widowed, finding Mr. Right can be a challenge. My years of experience have taught me that even though each relationship is unique, and all couples are different, there are still some tried and true dating rules that can be applied to most situations.
1. Be independent. Neediness communicates passive-aggressive behavior, and nobody gravitates to a needy person. Therefore, it is important when meeting someone and dating him for the first time, to step back and find your own center — your own resource. That means, don’t wait by the phone, and find hobbies and interests that you enjoy. This will give you not only things to talk about on a date, but things to do together. If you get a life, you can share that life through both conversation and experience. Remember, men in particular hate to feel controlled or pressured. If you find yourself controlling, you may remind him of his mother… and no man consciously wants to sleep with mom.
2. Never manipulate. Nobody likes to be manipulated. And because nothing happens in a vacuum, each partner brings his or her history into the relationship. As a result, manipulation can highly charge your emotional atmosphere… as the manipulated partner can be made to feel undervalued and discounted. Take my advice - don’t do it.
3. Be yourself. “When at first you fall in love, you try to act your best. You do the things you’re sure are right, but then soon comes the test. As weeks and months skim quickly by, and winter turns to summer You soon begin to lose your mask, and all too soon your lover.” - Dr. Gail M. Gross If you put on an act when you are dating, you will never feel that you are loved for who you really are. Couples date for months – and even marry – without ever knowing each other. In the beginning each partner projects his or her ideal onto the other. However, there will come a day when that projection is integrated back into your own psyche. And you may wake up one morning sleeping next to an emotional stranger… repeating the mantra, “I didn’t know you did that or I didn’t know you felt that way.” Relationships that find themselves in this conundrum usually do not last.
4. Mutuality. Mutuality is the most important characteristic of a good relationship. Along with getting to know someone, you are also building trust, and trust is based on experience. Intimacy requires mutuality – and mutuality requires openness and emotional availability. I can hear you say that “people who are vulnerable often get hurt,” and while that is true, you will never find intimacy without it… no risk, no reward. When the object of your affection realizes that he can count on you to be you, he can risk opening his heart. Don’t play games, and don’t play hard to get; if you play games, your date might play with someone else.
5. Turn off your phone. When dating, it is important to be present – that means to make eye contact and listen actively. Men and women both hate it when a date is distracted and neither focuses on him or her, or the moment, as it is both discounting and insulting. When on a date, don’t scan the room looking for, or flirting with, others - it is just plain rude. An important part of seduction during dating is to value and validate your date, and if you are not paying attention, you will miss your opportunity, by giving the wrong impression.
6. Be spontaneous. Be adventuresome, think of fun and creative things you can do together. For example, you can take painting classes, go to movies, go to the beach, or just have fun in the sun. Find you inner child and play by being in the moment. This opens you to your authentic and essential self, which is the most attractive you will ever be. The natural you, the un-layered you, gives out all those good undefended vibes… of attraction. Further, playfulness signals a flirty and teasing attitude that is non-aggressive and says “come hither.”
7. Find the humor. Humor relaxes and opens you to your stress-free self, and the warmth of your laughter can engage your partner into the welcoming space of your charms. Also, a good sense of humor indicates a good personality, and there is nothing sexier. Humor can inoculate you from being reactive, or from taking things too seriously and personally. This allows you to be a good sport, and show you can take teasing as well as criticism.
8. Get personal. Discover things that have personal and special meaning for the two of you. For example: write letters, notes, and send funny cards. It adds to anticipation, fun and mystery. Don’t second guess your partner. Be confident, and have a positive attitude, by confronting your own negative self-talk. Good self-esteem validates the best of who you are, and by acknowledging and recognizing that, you will attract the right person.
9. Relax. Stress reduction is so important to seduction. Not only should you be relaxed, but you want to have a welcoming disposition that helps your partner relax. If you have problems in this area, learn to meditate, do progressive relaxation exercises, take walks, listen to music and most importantly, get enough sleep. Children are cranky when they don’t get enough sleep, and so are adults. A well-rested, stress-free person can cope with all kinds of difficult situations. And by creating a stress-free environment, you can become your partner’s safe place in which he can reside.
10. Be a good listener and show interest in your date. Ask about his life story before you spill all the beans about yours. People love talking about themselves and love telling you who they are. If you are a good listener, you will hear everything. Remember: trust is based on experience. So when it’s your turn to talk, it is better to measure what you share, then you won’t feel hurt or betrayed if your date is not worthy of your trust.
11. Best Face Forward. Pay attention to your appearance, your breath, and your body hygiene. No matter how cute you are, if your hygiene is offensive, you will never get a second date. And regardless of what you have heard, if you don’t take pride in your appearance, you may be dealing with insecurity or low self-esteem.
Finally, there is a fine line between patience and perseverance. Give your date a chance to be responsive — never pressure or rush the guy. Seduction is all in your head, so how you present yourself is how others will perceive you.