'Does seven p.m. work for you?' you ask a crush of yours, with excessive trepidation; "it does, see you then!" enthusiastically replies the potential candidate to whom you developed strong infatuation. You hurriedly and frantically inform a trusted friend of the paramountly critical date — so that they can offer their advice on what shoes to wear; or what questions to ask, or not to ask.
Now, you are all dressed up; the sight of yourself in the mirror pleases you. But still, you are stuck in limbo between utter horror and confidence. "What if I screwed up and embarrassed myself with a lame joke," you almost scold yourself. Then, in a desperate and abrupt attempt to boost your confidence, you mentally begin enumerating all the traits and qualities that render you a worthy candidate: your straight A’s as a sign of your intelligence; the compliments on your appearance you garnered throughout the years as a sign of your handsomeness or beauty; your sense of humor that your friend can unhesitatingly testify for.
All these chaotic mental preparations are normal. A date, in the end, is akin to a critical audition: one where we are behaving and talking in a way that will get the other party to like us, and that is a tricky, difficult business.
In preparation for a date, a friend will hastily offer us the general advice: Don’t do all the talking; ask lots of questions; wear some nice shoes; offer a generous tip, etc. While all this can be helpful, there are far more effective, yet subtle, ways in which one can have a more successful and enjoyable date. You finally arrive; then as you dubiously approach your date, with an awkward grin and a hesitant gesture, you greet them. As you calmly sit down, your apprehension reminds you that you are before a demanding task, or more accurately, an important audition.
Given the nature of this audition, your ultimate and prominent task is to convince the other party that you are a suitable partner for mating and producing physically and psychologically healthy children. Now, with the advice of your astute friends, and the innumerable hours of preparation, your physical appearance is well taken care of —and nothing can be done to alter it at this point. Thus, you are left with the tricky and confusing task of appealing to the potential partner psychologically and emotionally, rather than merely physically.
Other than frantically complementing the decor, and agonizingly discussing the menu, you are left with mere silence. And to break it, you venture to utter, with artificial exhilaration “so tell me about yourself.” As the other auditioner conclude their story, they gently reciprocate the task. “How can I ‘tell her about myself’ and look both modest and worthy of respect,” you wonder, as though you are pondering the most convoluted enigma that crossed your mind.
Our first instinct is that, in order to maximally impress our date, we seek to outline our strengths and areas of competence, shying away from revealing our weaknesses and flaws that might render us weak candidates. We might, in an apparently humble manner, say, “ and after I received that promotion, I became the head manager of 30 employees.” disclosing this, in the recesses of our minds, we imagine that we are appealing to and fascinating our date. However, what is supremely more attractive, is when we admit and reveal our tricky and awkward sides —and show our date that we are comfortable with them. In doing so, not only do we show that we have a good, intimate relationship with ourselves, but we are confident and secure with who we are —which can be exceedingly more attractive than boasting about one’s grades or bank account.
In a self-deprecating, calm manner, we might jokingly but with an air of seriousness say, “you know, in delivering that presentation, I almost had a panic attack, but, miraculously, I managed to fully deliver it.”
The idea is not that we should project a hopeless image replete with awkwardness and flaws to our date; but rather, we should show them that we are already secure enough that we accepted our-self with all its accompanying imperfection.
What we all —including our desirable date —crave for is not mating with an infallible ubermensch, but what we ultimately seek is connection and understanding. And a prerequisite for connection is having commonalities —suffering, awkwardness, failure, etc. — to which both parties can relate and build upon. In a utopia, a question that should be rather smoothly and commonly asked in a date is, as the philosopher Alan de Botton suggested, “how are you crazy?” And in answering this question, both parties can glean enough to know whether or not they are capable of handling and cherishing the other party’s craziness and plain trickiness.