Keeping the Floodgates Closed

Advice
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Writing an online profile and going on a date are quite similar in some ways. In each, you're responsible for some form of a first impression. In addition to worrying about superficial aspects like your appearance, you have to choose the appropriate amount of information to spill. However, in an online profile, you can spend hours or even days constructing the right balance between clammed-up and life-story. On a date, you're flying by the seat of your pants, in real time.

One of the first obstacles some have to overcome is the urge to lie. Anxious people in stressful situations can get irrational fears – that they're not interesting enough, or that they have no witty anecdotes. Maybe they even fudged more than their height and body type on the profile, and now they're struggling to keep their stories straight. These people might be inclined to lie, but as in most situations, honesty is the best policy – no stories to keep straight (either now or later), and the amount of stress involved is greatly reduced.

Others might have a tendency to spill a little too much about themselves, either in quantity or quality. I admit that I sometimes fall into the latter category – I have to make sure I don't tell more about my life than is safe. Facts like where you work, or even where your neighborhood haunts are, are best reserved for later dates, when the date is less of a stranger.

Then there are those who might not say much about their current life, but will go on and on about everything else – their high school experiences, the health of their pets, everything we never needed to know. Like the others, this tendency stems from nerves – wanting to fill space with anything, even if it's not a worthy conversation topic.

In overcoming any of these issues, relaxation is the key. It's okay to take a second during the date and reflect: are you talking so much you're running out of breath? Is your date talking too, or are you dominating the conversation? Does the conversation have a natural flow, or are you trying too hard?

If you're worried about being interesting on the date, I would recommend coming up with a few anecdotes ahead of time. Think of the contestants on Jeopardy and how they usually have some cutesy story; one or two of those get the conversation moving, and once you relax, it will have its own momentum.