“Practice makes perfect” — The idea that consistency and repetition leads to improved results is nothing new. This idiom has been applied to just about every aspect of life, ranging from sports, to games, to career skills. Interestingly; however, when it comes to dating, there is an enduring belief that it should come naturally and effortlessly. Needless to say, this belief is wrong. Dating, like any other skill, takes practice to perfect–Practice makes perfect holds for dating as well. Keep reading to learn how to apply practice to dating.
How to practice dating
If you want to get better at basketball, it’s pretty clear what you can practice. You can practice your shot, your dribble, your passing, or perhaps your free throws. If you want to get better at the guitar you can practice scales, alternate picking, chord progressions, and train your ear.
When it comes to dating, it’s not like you can grab a person and say: “Hey, I want to practice my small-talk” with you. However, that doesn’t mean that (a) you can’t practice specific aspects of dating or (b) you can’t practice dating without it being the typical practice.
Take the basketball and guitar examples above. We listed a few ways you could practice getting better at basketball and guitar, respectively. However, we left out two crucial ways you can improve as well: simply playing the sport or instrument. You can also play with a purpose: for example, take more 3 pointers during the game to improve your outside shot, or when it comes to the guitar, integrate some long linear scale runs into your jam session to improve your alternate picking. We will give you tips on how to use both the former approach (practicing skills outside actual dates) and the the latter–practicing skills you want to improve during actual live dates.
What to practice
Any practice is good, but practicing your weaknesses is even better. In order to know what to practice, you need to be able to identify your weaknesses. We will cover identifying your individual weaknesses in a later publication; for now, we are going to focus on the most common dating flaws and issues we’ve encountered over the years:
- Eye Contact
- Lack of Touch
- Awkward Silences
- Interrupting and Talking too Much
and some more advanced dating topics like:
- Escalation Issues
- Gauging her interest level
- Calibrating touch
- Follow up issues
which we will cover in future articles. Let’s get started.
1. Practicing Eye Contact
Eye contact, while seemingly minor, is a crucial to master if you want to improve your dating success. Making eye contact while speaking to someone is not only polite, it’s also attractive. Lack of Eye contact and shying away from eye contact out of shame or fear is a sign of weakness that women will quite astutely pick up on. Likewise, making eye contact demonstrates confidence, one of the most attractive traits out there!
To practice making eye contact, start by doing so in every conversation you have. Don’t be afraid of appearing “creepy”. If you struggle making eye contact with people, the odds you will be able to easily make eye contact to the point of creepiness is extremely low.
Gradually move on from eye contact with friends, co-workers, and family you are extremely comfortable with to neutral parties, such as cashiers at stores or receptionists at places you frequent.
The key to making eye contact if you struggle is to remember to practice it in the date setting as well. Keep it the forefront of your mind before and even during the date. One trick to keep eye contact on your mind is to try to find out and remember your dates’ eye color, and to potentially compliment them on their eyes at one point during the date (be judicious with compliments, more on that in later articles). That will help keep eyes and eye contact in your brain–not to mention women love when men notice their eyes!
2. Practicing Touch
Physical touch can make or a break a date. Unfortunately, too many men use it poorly: either too little or too much, or in the worst situations, inappropriately. Physical touch is a non verbal form of communication that helps build connection, attraction, and also demonstrates confidence. Lack of physical touch shows disinterest, lack of confidence, and gives a date a platonic vibe. However, touching the wrong way is not only bad for getting a second date, it can be completely inappropriate, or even a crime. If you have a hard time touching, this latter point makes it even more difficult.
We’ve noticed that most of those who struggle on dates typically touch too little or not at all. In order to get more comfortable touching in the right way, the first step is learning to be more comfortable with touch in general. There are a few practical ways to do this outside of a date, but not that many. Here are two examples:
Be more touchy with friends and family — why not hug a friend or family member, or at the very least, don’t shy away from it.
Do a group activity that involves touch — many sports involve touch, they can get you more comfortable with the idea of touching other people
On a date, there are more ways you can practice physical touch:
Hug your date on arrival — this is the easiest way to overcome initial date anxiety. A platonic “nice to meet you” hug should be a habit you get into.
Hug your date at the end of the date — naturally, you’ll have to gauge the situation, but even if you don’t touch your date at all during the date, you will have gotten practice with hugs at beginning and end.
Touch her arm or hand during the date — make it a mission to touch her arm or hand during the date at least once. A great setup for this is a conversation topic switch. For example, say you were talking about topic A and it reminded you about topic B, say: “Oh, that reminds me” and touch her upper arm or hand, whatever is most easily accessible, when you say “Oh”.
Physical touch is an advanced topic that requires experience and expertise reading her interest levels, so if you are in the ‘middle of the road’ with touch (you are doing the basic touch on the arm and hugs but struggle with the next level, we’ll have an entire article dedicated to that soon. However, if you’re a beginner, doing the three things above on every date will get you comfortable with touch in no time.
3. Practicing Avoiding Awkward Silences
It’s easy to get nervous on a date. Usually nervousness manifests in one of two ways: awkward silence or too much talking/interrupting. We’ll show you how to practice avoiding both!
For awkward silences, this isn’t something easily practicable outside an actual date: it probably doesn’t happen that frequently outside a date setting. In a date setting, avoiding awkward silences can be done with planning and execution.
Plan a few go-to questions or even better, anecdotes for awkward silences. For example: “So, any trips coming up?” or “Have you ever done X,Y,Z? This one time when I did it A,B,C happened”. A lot of awkward silence occurs because there is an unusual fear from some men about changing the topic of conversation. Don’t worry about that! Conversations change topic constantly, and a change is better than an awkward silence. That leads to practice tip number 2.
Change the conversation topic at least once. Get comfortable changing the topic of conversation by changing the topic of conversation at least once on your next few dates. This will probably happen naturally a bunch of times, but even just the act of noticing it will make you much more comfortable changing topics in conversation, which will make it easier to avoid awkward silence.
Another plan for combating awkward silence is using that window to go to the bathroom. There you can re-group. Notice an awkward silence: excuse yourself to use the restroom. Granted you cannot use this technique more than once or twice on a date, but it can be invaluable.
4. Practicing Not Interrupting
Sometimes the nervous energy and adrenaline rush of a date can lead to talking too much and interrupting her. It’s important to talk on a date: no one wants to just sit there, but you’ve got to be sure she can get a word in also.
Practicing not interrupting can start with friends and family.
The first step is to pay attention to when you interrupt family and friends, and when they interrupt you. Simply practicing paying attention to this in everyday life will make you naturally notice it more on dates.
The second step is to practice apologizing when you do it. Don’t go overboard, but practice with your friends and family, a simple: “Sorry I just cut you off, keep going” is enough.
The last step, is doing that on a date. When you recognize you cut her off, apologize and let her continue. Eventually, you’ll do that enough times that you will cut her off less to begin with.
Put Yourself Out There
If you want to improve your dating life, you need to practice. Practice makes perfect is a little too idealistic, but practice definitely makes better. However, to get practice in a social activity like dating, you need to date! Even if you don’t date, you need to interact with people. Friends, family, Starbucks baristas, it really doesn’t matter, any interaction can be used to improve your future interactions. So put yourself out there, get on some dating apps, go out to some bars, and meet people!