Oft-heard advice to daters is, “Just be yourself.” Well, what if “yourself” isn’t very appealing? What if “being yourself” means showing up for a first date with disheveled hair, dirty, ripped clothes, and uncouth behavior? That’s how you are at home, so isn’t it truly being yourself?
On one hand, you shouldn’t try to be something you’re not. So if the above describes your usual self and you show up in an Armani suit and Prada shoes, you are not being yourself. Unless you have, as many of us do, a wide range of clothing to choose from depending on the impression you want to make.
Within the span of who you are, strive to be the best you that you can be. So, unless you’re looking for someone who loves dressing in comfy sweats, leave yours at home except if your early dates entail working out. And even if you don’t usually wear make up, some foundation, lipstick and a little mascara isn’t going to mislead someone into thinking you’re a Vogue cover girl.
My model for the first few dates is to think of how you’d behave and dress if you were going to church/temple/synagogue. You’d put on clean, pressed, well-kept clothes, shined shoes, fix your hair and probably wear some make up. You’d be well behaved and respectful. You’d smile and be friendly with others. Now, if you are going roller skating or biking on your date, you’re not going to wear a church-going dress. But you’d want to appear your best in clean jeans or shorts and a top in good repair.
The other part of being your “best” self involves your behavior. Sometimes people ask why I don’t more often call guys on their inconsiderate behavior. Part of it is I want to see what they do naturally without any intervention from me. Then I can decide what I want to comment on or not. The other part is if he is taking me out to dinner, I’m his guest. A guest does not nitpick her host. She is gracious and gives him some slack. If you were at someone’s house for dinner, you wouldn’t point out how often they interrupt, glance at the TV while you’re in the room, or don’t get in the back of the buffet line. You’d be pleasant, and then vow not to go back. The first few dates is too early to try to change someone’s behavior.
So step back and look at what “be yourself” means to you, versus “be your best self.” Be sure to don the latter for your early dates, and you can loosen up as you get to know and trust each other.
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