As I pointed out in a seemingly unrelated post, taking risks is something we all need to do in order to succeed. We tend to avoid risks because they lead to failure, but risk-taking is also a prerequisite for success. We have to embrace the chance of failure if we want to succeed. This applies to dating as much as every other aspect of our lives. While there are many things we can control to attract the opposite sex, experience shows us that not everything can be manipulated, and there is a point at which we need to let go and accept the limits of our influence.
A lot of women find first dates nerve-racking. Whether or not they realize or admit it, they are nervous because they see a first date as a time to perform, a single opportunity to show their best side to a man, a critical chance to impress him. They are self-conscious because they want to avoid doing something stupid or unattractive. If you are one of these women, you know exactly what I am talking about. It can be paralyzing.
When you are having a conversation on a first date, all kinds of thoughts and reminders are constantly passing through your mind. Some of them seem appropriate and you verbalize them, but many you veto because you aren't sure if he'll agree, or whether he'll be interested. These are things that you would say without a moments' hesitation in front of a work acquaintance or a friend; but you don't want to say something that will turn off your date, or make him think that your tastes or opinions differ too much from his. So you leave these things unsaid.
Example 1 - He mentions a boring, generic Hollywood movie he saw the other day and really liked, and asks what the most recent movie you've seen was. You tell him that it was A Separation. When he asks how you liked it, you balk. You thought it was incredible, the best movie you've seen in years; but you are hesitant to tell him so because you doubt he appreciates foreign (let alone Persian) films, and he might even think you are a little weird because of it. You tell him "It was good... different, but good" and change the subject.
Example 2 - You met online and it's your first date. He invites you to dinner but doesn't tell you the name of the restaurant ahead of time. You've had a long day so you are hoping for someplace casual where you can just kick back and have a beer with him. When he picks you up he is a lot hotter in-person than you expected. He takes you to a fairly fancy place, and when the waitress comes, he orders a cocktail. You do too, even though you never drink anything other than Bud Light and think cocktails are kind of pretentious.In both instances you lack authenticity. This kind of guarded, deferential mentality is preventing you from being your true self. More to the point here, it is preventing you from finding a man that is truly compatible with you. I've been on dates with girls that have been very open and genuine, and I've had absolutely no interest in them because of it. They showed their true colors, and I didn't like them. But these girls are far closer to finding a guy than the women I've dated several times without ever feeling like I knew who they were. A few of these girls gave me glimpses of their true selves occasionally, and I loved what I saw. But the glimpses were far too brief and fleeting for me to really know whether it was representative or not - in other words, whether or not it was worth hanging around for. So I didn't.
You probably assume this guarded mentality in order to prevent yourself from failing with men (looking stupid); but it is also preventing you from succeeding with them. The kind of guy who would like what you decided against saying will think less of you for your silence, while the guy who would think poorly of you for it probably isn't right for you anyway. Your attempt to make the date work by avoiding your natural inclinations is futile, because, although your instinct is right - it will prevent you from looking stupid - it will also prevent you from being attractive to the men you are most suited for.
So next time you are on a date, do the equivalent of what my friends and I used to do in the bars of San Diego: do not go home until you've made a conscious effort to push through your reservations and express the things you would say in non-date situations - at least three times. In other words, don't go home until you've made three "mistakes." Remind yourself of this just before meeting him for the date, and then anytime you are alone during it (e.g. when you go to the bathroom). If you want to get hyper-practical about it, set an alert on your phone, so that you get a little vibrate reminder part-way into the date. If you get to the end of the date and still haven't hit three, just ask him anything you want to know about him but "isn't appropriate" to ask.
1. Self-Improvement Takes Time
2. Men Care About How You Talk
3. Texting Tip 3 - When Should You Reply?
4. Living Vulnerably
5. Femininity, Authenticity and Compatibility