Do you think the dating secret weapons have to do with things like dressing to kill? Or smelling good? Or meeting at the perfect location?
No. It’s much simpler than that.
The first secret weapon is smiling . . . a lot.
I mean the kind of smile that is authentic and genuine, so it shows in your eyes, as well as your mouth.
Try this too – up the ante by combining your winning smile with attentive listening. That’s the second secret weapon.
Generally, people of all ages should smile in their online dating profile photos and when they’re on dates. A smile conveys friendliness and approachability.
Smiling can also make you more attractive to potential partners because it conveys happiness, warmth and positivity.
And smiling when you’re on dates helps put your date at ease, so the date itself is likely to be a better experience for both of you.
Being a good listener is important in any relationship, regardless of age. It shows that you’re interested in the other person and helps to create a sense of trust, understanding and connection. It can help build a foundation for a potential relationship.
Being a good listener involves paying attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and showing genuine interest in what they have to say.
Good listening skills can help to create a positive and supportive atmosphere in a relationship and can be especially important as people get older and may be looking for a more meaningful connection.
The shortest distance between two people is a smile.
When I think back on all the first-and-only dates I had through online dating sites before meeting Cosmo, I remember how many of the men didn’t smile when we first saw each other, and then rarely, if ever, smiled throughout the date.
Possibly they were so nervous they didn’t think to smile, or weren’t capable of it. I can understand that. Although I usually wasn’t nervous on first dates, it’s easy to see why most people are. First dates can be terribly stressful and nerve-racking.
Funny thing is, if these guys had made themselves smile at me, they would have instantly felt less nervous.
I made a point of walking into every first date with a big smile planted on my face. It calmed me right down and made me feel in better control of myself.
But wait. Let me back up to before I made the first date.
I also made a point of smiling when I was on the phone with potential dates.
As a 25+ year small business owner, I knew that people can sense when you’re smiling when you speak to them on the phone, even if they don’t see your face.
The sound of your voice adjusts to the smile on your face and what comes out sounds more pleasant than if you don’t smile.
Wait again. Let me back up to before I ever spoke to a first date.
I carefully chose photos for my online dating profiles that showed me smiling broadly. I had found that the men whose profile photos I was most attracted to were ones where they were genuinely, warmly smiling.
Take advantage of your great smile.
Smiling matters in your dating profile photo
Dr. Jess Carbino, scientist and in-house sociologist at Bumble, noted that too many people fall into the trap of trying to look like a model in their online photos, not smiling at all.
“We’ve been so socialized to believe that this sexy, smoldering look is theoretically appealing because we’ve watched people in movies and in Calvin Klein ads presenting themselves in this way. But the vast majority of people don’t look like people in Calvin Klein ads.”
Plus NOT smiling
“Doesn’t give off the type of sentiment that you want to be projected toward a potential match. You want to come off as kind and approachable, which is what smiling projects.”
Which is in contrast to
“Seeming cold and distant, which is what a more grimacing or a less emotive look would project.”
Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher agrees and adds:
“When you smile, those who see your smile, smile back, even if very briefly. And as they smile, they use facial muscles which trigger the release of neurochemicals in their brain associated with feelings of pleasure — and they are thus likely to feel happy in your company.”
The kinds of smiles that attract in dating profile photos
The dating app Coffee Meets Bagel analyzed profile photos of members to determine the types of smiles that got the most “likes”, and were therefore considered more attractive:
- Women who tilt their head when they smile
- Men who keep their heads straight have better luck
- Both men and women win with big toothy smiles
- But women pull off a closed mouth grin better than men
- Both men and women lose with a laughing smile
5 reasons a great smile makes for a better first date:
1. An inviting smile indicates that you’re a pleasant person to be around. Who wouldn’t be attracted to that?
2. Smiling happifies you and everyone around you. Your smile brings out smiles in others, and puts them at ease.
3. A smiling face is more appealing than a sour puss. No matter what your level of attractiveness, smiling will enhance the way you look – make you look younger, and more vibrant and personable.
4. Smiling is empowering and plays into the “fake it til you make it” strategy. Smiling even if you’re not feeling it makes you more at ease, and helps you come off better.
5. Smiles are infectious. They resonate. If your date is in a bad mood, or having a bad day, your smile may lift their spirits.
Smiling has a physiological impact too.
A Psychology Today article explains:
“The feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well. This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.”
Don’t feel like smiling? Make yourself do it. Act as if you feel like it and smile anyway. When you act “as if” it can change your insides to match your outsides, or vice versa.
So, before you walk into that first date, take a deep breath and plant a sparkling smile on your mug that illuminates your entire face.
The second dating secret weapon: Being a good listener
Once you’re actually on dates, smiling is of course super important. But adding intent listening will really help seal the deal.
As I noted above, very few of the men I had first-and-only dates with were good listeners. Some were horrible listeners.
People don’t seem to know how to have a balanced conversation any more.
Have you noticed that listening well and truly being engaged in a conversation seem to be lost arts these days?
Whether in a professional or social setting, people mark time while pretending to listen, anxiously fidgeting until they can dominate the conversation again.
It’s become worse with our heightened impatience and need for speed – with social media, and so many people addicted to their phones and other devices. We want things to happen quickly, and then we quickly lose interest.
Many are driven by a narcissistic need to focus everything on themselves. It’s become a serious problem, and has had a negative impact on dating, in my experience.
Because good listening skills are so rare, if you’re a good listener, you’ll stand out from other first dates.
Being a good listener is a valuable asset because:
- Most people love to talk about themselves.
- Most people are not being listened to, but crave it.
- Being listened to makes people feel valued and good about themselves.
- Listening well keeps you open to – and better able to – absorb pertinent information about your date.
You’ve probably heard the expression “People tell you who they are”. More to the point, I think they SHOW you who they are.
I don’t how many men I had dates with who proudly said things like “I’m a very honest person” or “I’m a gentleman”, but their actions belied their claims. They liked to think they were that kind of person, but they really weren’t.
Take boastful claims like those with a grain of salt. Pay attention to ALL that they say and do. You can often figure out who they are, even on only one date.
But being an attentive listener can backfire on you.
One of my pet peeves: A first date sitting down across from me and immediately launching into a non-stop monologue about themselves, barely taking a breath, rarely asking me about myself or engaging me in a balanced conversation.
I suffered through many dates like that. The upside was that their talking non-stop about themselves somehow helped me better understand myself and what I wanted in a man. Of course, it also helped me decide whether to fish or cut bait.
I get it that some people talk too much when they’re nervous, but at our age, they should know enough (and be courteous enough) to curb the banter and ask me a few things about myself.
Don’t let your date take advantage of your good nature and good listening skills. You don’t have to sit there and be a mute sounding board for a gas bag.
All the more reason to always go for coffee for first dates, or make it a mutually-understood quick date.
If they’re talking up a storm and sucking the life out of you, politely end the date, leave and move on to the next one . . . who may be your ideal partner.