When we’re getting ready to go on a date, most of us don’t take the time to think about our mindset. We think about what we’re going to wear, what we’re going to do, and whether or not it will be like the last miserable date—a complete waste of time. We cross our fingers, hoping that we’ll impress someone.
But it’s actually more important to have the right mindset than the right shoes. Even if the person you’re going out with isn’t “The One,” you can still have a great time and learn something about others and yourself.
Here are three steps to take in order to have the right mindset when going on a date.
1. Approach it whole, with the complete, authentic, most honest version of you.
“Honest” is a great word to use as a measuring tool when it comes to dating, and how you feel about the other person and yourself. Ask yourself if you are being honest in the way you’re talking, thinking, and behaving. People often have bad experiences or don’t get who they want because they are too busy trying to be who they think they should be, instead of just being who they really are. This is “false advertising” and it will cause you to imprison yourself in inauthenticity. Eventually you will have to show your true self, and the other person may wonder who that is.
2. Turn your dial.
“Dial” is a term I use a lot because it provides me with a good, concrete visual for thinking about mindset. It enables me to catch myself when I’m falling down the rabbit hole of old patterns, and then I can see myself turning a dial in my head like a gear, knowing it’s going to change a pattern and raise my growth and potential.
When it comes to going out on a date, turn your dial from “Find the One” to “Know Somebody.” If you go into a date thinking the other person may be “The One,” you put too much pressure on yourself, the experience, and that person. And if/when you realize that he or she is not “The One,” your expectations will be aggressively disappointed.
So go in without expectations, or at least not ones that are set so high. That way, you create a win-win scenario: If the date is subpar, you protect yourself from disappointment, and if you find that there are sparks and another date, it’s a pleasant surprise.
One way to get rid of your expectations on dates is to turn your dial to “Know Somebody.” That’s it. And leave it there through the entire date. This is not inauthentic, either: You’re telling yourself that all you want from the date is to know another person, which is an honest and realistic desire. You want to hear someone’s story and experience the world through their eyes; and they’ll get to hear your story and experience the world through yours.
And through this experience, both of you, whether you’re attracted to each other or not, will learn something—if you’re open to it. Maybe you have a good time and realize what you don’t want in someone. Maybe you find a friend who will play a huge role in your life. Or maybe you will never see this person again. But with this mindset, it doesn’t matter. It’s more about the opportunity to experience a new person, and hopefully learn something about yourself.
3. Focus less on your own mental checklist and more on how the other person makes you feel.
Many people get excited about finding a partner who seems to check the boxes of qualities they seek in an ideal partner. But in thinking this way, most people also don’t realize that relationships are about creating new spaces for emotions and experiences, not meeting criteria. And how someone makes you feel, even on a given evening, is a great indicator of their ability to create a space for you to grow. If they are being authentic, you are getting a small taste of what a relationship with this person could feel like. Note that many people present themselves in a way that gives you a picture of what something could look like, not feel like. But that picture can end up being very distorted. Remember, actually feeling what something can be is a lot more convincing.