Just be yourself?

The most common piece of dating advice has to be, “Just be yourself.” It’s something we’ve all heard our friends say as we grab our coats and race out the door to meet a new man or woman. But, does it work?

What does being yourself really mean?

Is there a true self that we can choose to perform or conceal? Or do our personalities shift and transform depending on our environments?

We have multiple selves.

The side of ourselves that we reveal at grandma’s dinner table, is drastically different from the self that we present at a concert with friends. Yet, both versions of ourselves are authentic.

The question becomes, which version of yourself should you present on a first date to attract a match?

If the version of yourself who appears on first dates is nervous, sweaty, and stammering, then you need to rethink your presentation. Try channeling the way you feel around your closest friends, to help you make a great first impression on a date. Think about how you feel in the company of your best friends: self-assured, secure, and relaxed. You don’t need to brag about your accomplishments, or prove your worth, because they already know and love you. You can crack a joke, handle a silence, and interpret non-verbal cues seamlessly. Sharing this comfortable side of yourself is attractive to matches.

Well Elana,” you might be thinking, “this is all fine and good to tell me to act confident and relaxed when I am on a date, but my date is out of my league, and I’m intimidated and afraid of rejection.”

OK – got it. You really like this person, and you want the date to go off without a hitch.

Here’s a game plan for presenting your best self on dates:

1) Get in the mood. Pull on that one outfit that shows all your best features, listen to a song that energizes you, and call a friend who thinks the world of you.

2) Do your research. Learn about the venue where you are meeting in advance, so you know what to expect, where to park, what to order, and how to get the best seats.

3) Come prepared. Think of at least five interesting conversation topics to avoid any awkward silences.

4) Enjoy yourself. If you’re having fun, there’s a high likelihood that your date will have fun too.

5) Keep a healthy perspective. Remember that this is only a first date, and it will not determine the rest of your life. If you’re a match, you will have the luxury of time to fall in love and build a life together. If not, then you get to meet someone new.