Let’s face it: Dating can be rough. It’s nerve-wracking, you’ve got to have your game face on all the time, and the stakes can feel pretty high (you know, lifelong happiness and such). Sometimes it’s more than a person can bear, and the temptation to hunker in your room with donuts and Netflix can become almost overwhelming.
Stop. Take deep breaths. Remind yourself that a single date does not a lifetime of happiness make, or break. Still, it would sure help if you had a little more confidence about the whole thing, right?
Well, good news. Learning how to be confident isn’t impossible. Just like any other skill, gaining the ability to be confident in a variety of romantic situations is totally possible if you work at it. Sometimes confidence is hard to fake, even when you want to, which is why it’s so important to genuinely become more confident on the dating scene.
With that in mind, here are a number of steps you can take to actively increase your confidence and make putting yourself out there easier.
- GO ON LOTS OF DATES
Our number one tip for helping you to be confident is to just get yourself out there. Like getting shots, public speaking or skiing, things that might at first seem really scary become less so the more you do them. If you want to learn to be confident, just say “yes” a whole lot more. You could go on a date with a guy you don’t even really like that much, just for the experience (plus, you never know what might happen). You could sign up for a matchmaking website just to get a lot of options.
Or you might ask guys out yourself. In these liberated times, there’s no reason you shouldn’t let your femme flag fly, right?
If that last option sounds a bit overwhelming right now, don’t worry: You don’t have to do that yet. But work on getting yourself out onto the field more often.
- PUT YOURSELF IN DIFFICULT OR CHALLENGING SITUATIONS
If you want to learn how to be confident, you don’t necessarily have to rely on dates alone to build your courage muscle. You can also become more confident by exposing yourself to a variety of other frightening or nerve-wracking situations.
See, anxiety, just like anything else, is something to which you can become habituated. If you put yourself in challenging situations often enough, you will eventually build up a tolerance for feelings of apprehension. That doesn’t mean the anxiety will necessarily disappear; it just means that you will begin to work through it more and more easily. Instead of shutting down when fear comes your way, you will learn to embrace it and the adrenaline boost it gives you, enabling you to meet scary or challenging situations head on both on and off the dating field. This is hands-down one of the best ways to become more confident.
- PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME
If you’re looking to be more confident when you arrive on that date, one of the best things you can do is prepare ahead of time. Nothing helps you to be confident like having the details nailed down, knowing your schedule, and having any and all supplies you may need on hand (think lipstick, tampons, a snack with protein or a cell phone charger).
Careful preparation, while it cannot totally eliminate surprises, will help minimize the chance that they crop up. This in turn will help you stay focused on your date, on what he’s saying, on your activity or meal. And if you’re tuned-in and engaged, you’ll have a better chance of making a good impression, feeling great about yourself and boosting your confidence in the long term and short term.
- PLAN TOPICS OF CONVERSATION
This might seem like a backwards way to be confident, but it’s really not. One of the most dreaded aspects of a date – especially a first date – is the long, lingering silence between snatches of conversation. If you want to avoid that endless “ummmmm,” having a few topics on hand can really help.
Pick a few things you can ask him about his own life – where did you grow up, what do you do for fun, what’s your work like – and plan a few stories you could tell about yourself. Aim for light and tbadhumorous rather than heavy or sad, of course, especially if it’s a first date. You can always spill your heart to him later, right? Knowing how to break the silence will really help you to be confident.
If you’re shy and talking just isn’t your thing at all, try going out with friends and family more and learning to participate in the conversation more. This might seem like a silly way to learn how to be confident, but it can help.
- SLEEP, EAT AND DRINK
One of the best ways to become more confident is to treat your body well. It’s hard to be confident when you are exhausted, stressed, hungry or thirsty. Therefore, if you want to be confident on your dates (and in between!), shoot for eight hours of sleep a night, keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand, and drink lots and lots of water. On the other hand, you should avoid drinking alcohol, especially the night before your date. Nothing kills courage like a big ol’ hangover that makes you want to crawl into a hole and die.
- CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLE
If you want to be more confident when you’re with guys, assess the factors that are within your control and do something about them.
Not everything is under your control, but some things are. What time you arrive, what you wear, what kinds of food you eat … these are all elements that are open to negotiation. Therefore you should pick meeting places and times that work for you. Think you look better at night? Go out then. Indian food give you gas? Don’t agree to it. You might be afraid to appear fussy, but these are very minimal restrictions. Plus, a lot of guys like girls who will speak up. Your date wants you to be happy, not agreeable at all costs.
Of course, this also means you have to let go of the things you can’t control. Bad weather, broken-down buses and other acts of god and man aren’t up to you, so the best thing you can do is shrug and move on with your life.
- WEAR SOMETHING SEXY
One of the best ways to be confident is to know you look good, plain and simple. Think about it: Aren’t you always more confident when you’re dressed to the nines than when you’re wearing your sweats and nubby socks? (We said confident, not comfortable!) That doesn’t mean you have to pull out your semiformal wear on every date; a nice outfit involving skinny jeans and ankle booties can be just as appropriate as an evening gown.
If you want to land that effortless yet sexy look, plan your outfit ahead of time. Wear new clothes at least once to make sure they don’t rumple or crease in weird places, and test out your hairdo beforehand. Later, when you know you look good and don’t have to keep running to the bathroom to check every five seconds, you’ll thank yourself for the prep work.
- AVOID LOADED QUESTIONS
Okay, we all know that awkwardness can really kill a good time. And you know what’s a major awkwardness-maker? Weird, loaded questions. If you want to be confident, stay away from anything that might turn him off or make him wonder what your deal is. One of the biggest confidence-busters out there is seeing your date run for the hills, so don’t give them any reason to do so. Avoid classically distressing questions such as “Where is this going?” or “Do you see us together?”
These questions don’t make you seem confident; they make you seem desperate, needy and clingy. Don’t do it. If you’re wondering how to be confident, avoiding questions you shouldn’t ask is a main way to show your date you don’t need him, and that will make him even more interested.
- TAKE DEEP BREATHS
Yes, this might seem like a silly approach when you’re looking for real insights about how to be confident, but it isn’t. Research shows that deep breathing slows down our nervous systems, makes us less impulsive, gives us time to think and generally helps us to be confident. Any time you feel a freak out coming on, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you have every reason to be confident in who you are, how you look and what you’re doing here.
- REMIND YOURSELF IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER
If you want to be more confident while on your date, try a mantra: This doesn’t really matter. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? You guys don’t end up together? Well, you weren’t together before, so who really cares? Even if you’re sorely disappointed at the end of the night, it won’t ruin your life if things don’t work out with this guy. Plus, cultivating a Zen-like non-attachment is a great way to be confident, because regardless of the outcome, you’re still happy with yourself.
Becoming more confident takes work, but ultimately the effort you make will more than pay off. Plus, when you work toward confidence day after day, it becomes even easier to put yourself out there. Before you know it, you’ll be dating like a champ, and sooner or later you may even land the guy of your dreams.