When the idea of dating pops up, I know what you are probably thinking:

“I wish I could fast forward the dating part and get right to being in a relationship.”

“Dating is just painful! I would rather have a root canal.”

“I just want a boyfriend/girlfriend already DAMMIT!”

Dating doesn’t HAVE to suck, you know?

I can just hear some of the sarcastic inner voice responses now:

“Sure. And Hanukkah Harry actually exists. For that matter, so does the tooth fairy.”

“Yeah, right! Having to sit through awkward first dates with complete strangers is super fun. Can’t think of a better way to spend my Friday nights.”

I get it. Trust me. I have most of those thoughts myself. I have also taken more “breaks” from dating than I have had actual relationships!

If there is one thing I have learned about dating, it is that your perspective, the way you see things, makes a huge impact in not only your experience, but the outcome as well.

In my opinion, we often go on a first date and are so preoccupied with looking a certain way, and expecting the date to feel a certain way, that we lose the whole point of dating in the first place!

On the flip side, we have so many expectations about the person and what ‘should’ happen next. We are blind to what is actually happening and unable to see the person sitting right across from us for who they really are.

To me, dating is about meeting people, getting to really know them, and seeing if there is compatibility in all areas – not just chemistry.

You want to see the person for who they are: their likes, dislikes, mannerisms, hobbies, sense of fun and overall outlook on life. They are looking to do the same thing. But the only way you can truly do that is by being present and being curious. Not preoccupied with assumptions, expectations and projections.

Focus on having fun and being yourself. The rest will fall into place. Promise.

Here are some tips to help you have fun on your next first date (and when it comes to dating in general):

  • Think of your first date as time spent with a friend and let it build from there, which will consequently give you a much more solid foundation. How do you do that? Well…
  • Act like kids! Play games like 20 questions. Tell each other stories. Focus more on the “getting to know you” part and less on asking questions like, “Will I like them?” or “Will they like me?”
  • Do new, fun, interesting things on your dates. Everyone does coffee, dinner or drinks. Try out of the box date ideas like going mini golfing or bowling, checking out some live music, grab gelato and go for a walk in a park. Try an activity you wanted to do/try anyway and invite your potential date along.
  • Really embrace the following mantra and repeat it to yourself before each date:  “Instead of trying to make a relationship work, I will let it evolve. I am going to show up as myself and have fun!”
  • Lastly… remember: It is about the journey and not the destination. If dating is necessary, at least have a good time while you are doing it!
Natalie Vartanian, CPCC, ACC, is a certified life coach, writer, speaker, workshop facilitator and an expert when it comes to sex and relationships. She works with individuals and couples to build better relationships and help them amplify the communication and intimacy, which always results in better sex. Her work has been featured in Forbes.com, Good Men Project, Your Life Your Way and CTI’s Transforum Blog. You can find her at http://nataliethecoach.com.
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