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Hey, I'm Jiveny Blair-West an Australian Dating, Attraction & Relationship Coach. Want to navigate the modern dating scene with more clarity and insight? Then stick around, explore or click here to learn about working with me.
It was midday and I was on my way to a first date with a guy I’d been crushing on for a while… Finally, I was about to go on a date with someone I was genuinely interested in! I had already spent over an hour preparing, blow drying my hair, doing my makeup and carefully choosing the ‘right’ clothes to make an impression. It was a lunch date and we were meeting up at an organic café in a hip part of town. I was both excited and nervous, although you probably couldn’t tell when I walked in the door – I was well practiced in the art of the poker face.
This was me at 20 years old. At that stage of my life I thought that the key to nailing a first date was to present myself as cool, calm, capable and independent. When it came to dating, my strategy had always been to keep my cards close to my chest lest someone discover the goofy, sensitive little girl within.
So, I told him stories of my solo travels around the world and my plans to start my own business. He seemed down to Earth, and talked to me about his family and his music. When we parted ways at the end of the date, I thought he liked me. Moreover, I thought that I had sold myself impressively.
Was this the start of something?
I hoped at least for the opportunity to hang out again and perhaps reveal some other parts of myself. Unfortunately, he never called me again.
It hurt. But it did teach me a very valuable lesson (which unfortunately I didn’t come to fully understand until some years later).
Knowing what I know now, the one thing I would have done differently is forget about trying to impress him. After all, this is not how real connections are made. Ironically, it’s easy to get caught up in the quest to impress. In fact we are often encouraged to do so with the mainstream pursuit of perfection emphasised by advertisers and exacerbated by social media. This reinforces the myth that if we could just be more impressive or more ‘perfect’, we could have more of the relationships we want. Yet so often the opposite is true…
As a recovering perfectionist myself, I find it comforting to remember that it is actually our imperfections that make us relatable, and it’s primarily from a basis of relatability that an intimate relationship can really begin. I know this from my own experience, and I see this often in the stories my clients share with me about their own dating adventures.
So again, if I were to do one thing differently back then…?
It would be to stop trying to impress my date and instead focus on developing a real connection. Of course, this would require me to be a little more relaxed, curious and most importantly, a bit vulnerable.
With online profiles now often being the first point of contact for those out there dating, we can easily get stuck hiding behind masks of invulnerability as we set about proving to the world that we are ‘the perfect catch’. Sadly, in the process of striving towards perfection, we tend to alienate ourselves from our potential mates by withholding the very parts of ourselves that make us human and relatable. More often than not, the perfectionist approach to dating leads us to miss out on a true connection because we just can’t get beyond each other’s masks.
One of the great tricks to intimacy is showing ourselves for who we are without leaving too much to guesswork while, on the other hand, not oversharing too early. If we are to form a life-long relationship with someone, we will need to show them who we really are and what we really feel. This is important to make sure that our future partner is aware of our likes, dislikes, hopes and fears, and can relate to us with that in mind. After all, without creating true intimacy, how can we ever expect to create true love?
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Co-author of 'How to Make the Biggest Decision of Your Life' and online dating, attraction & relationship coach committed to helping you attract a healthy, sustainable and passionate relationship.