When he said, “The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure,” Swedish soccer coach Sven-Göran Eriksson may have had more sporting fare on his mind.
But he could have just as easily applied his quote to the world of dating. It’s a jungle out there, where the terror of rejection can be a traumatic intimidation factor when meeting someone new, while telegraphing that insecurity to your date could easily jeopardize your chances for a second meeting.
While confidence isn’t an exclusive component to staging a successful date, it can be an important one, argues Chicago-based Patti Feinstein, self-described as America’s Dating Coach who has counseled hundreds of clients and appeared on ABC, CBS and MSNBC.
“Confidence equals happiness, and happiness equals success,” she says. “Not everybody has a lot of confidence in dating,” she states. “Dating is a world of rejection, so it’s very hard to get the confidence. It’s more important to get the connection.
“But confidence is important, and you’re not going to get it unless you try.”
In her experience, Feinstein has found the fairer sex to be the most confident. “I would say women tend to be more confident than men,” she confirms. “I have a ton of male clients, and they always have confidence issues.
“But I can take a guy who has no confidence, throw him into an activity, put him online, and he’ll find love.”
Which brings us to five surefire ways Feinstein recommends for boosting your ego:
Immerse Yourself in Something Passionate
“Throw yourself into something that you can get absolutely lost in,” says Feinstein. “I’m not talking about books. I’m talking about activity, because then you’re not thinking about it.”
Being consumed with something that you love tends to shift your focus away from almighty you. That leaves less time to think about your own insecurities.
“When you’re shining and doing something that makes you happy, that makes you approachable,” she counsels.
Feinstein recalls one client who had always wanted to purchase a motorcycle but had denied himself the pleasure.
“I encouraged him to do it, and once he did, all of a sudden he started dating,” she says. “I do think that happiness contributes to confidence.”
Keep the Conversation Focused On Your Date
“Everybody’s favorite subject is themselves, so you want to talk about the other person,” says Feinstein. “It shows that you’re genuinely interested. It also shows that you have a certain amount of confidence because you don’t need to share all of your stuff on the first date. You know you have something to offer.”
She says says that when it comes to the art of conversation, there are notable differences between men and women.
“Men don’t talk — they’re visual. So for men, I would advise talk, ask open-ended questions and get it out there. Guys are so compartmentalized that it’s very difficult to make conversation with them.
“Women have a tendency to talk too much, and that would show a lack of confidence. They over-analyze everything under the sun.”
Tying in suggestion No. 1 — a passionate interest — also makes you a more engaging conversationalist for your potential date. Just don’t be overconfident. “You don’t want to do that, because it’s a turn-off,” notes Feinstein.
Whether you’re at a club, at a social gathering or even one-on-one, Feinstein recommends that you try putting everyone around you at ease.
“When you’re out there and you’re dating, forget about the rejection,” says Feinstein. “Pretend that you’re hosting a party wherever you are, and that it’s your job to make everybody comfortable, and to learn everybody’s name.
“This way, you get to meet everybody that’s there and you don’t have that pressure on you. Take the dating part out of the equation and make it easy for yourself.”
Visualize Your Date as A Pet
“For guys that are really intimidated by women — and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but just to help with the confidence thing — pretend the woman is a dog and you need to come back to me and tell me what kind of dog she is,” says Feinstein. “That’s your exercise, so you’re not intimidated by her.”
If you’re a guy, Feinstein says this controversial exercise will help you relax and put the date in perspective.
“Women will kill me for saying that, but it does take away some of the nerves. Men will go out and they’ll tell me, ‘She was like a poodle’ (high-maintenance) or ‘She was like a Labrador’ — she wants to do this and that and this.
“They’re judging the date better, instead of thinking, ‘I hope she’s going to like me.’”
Women can also employ this device, and if the Fido visualization doesn’t do the trick, Feinstein suggests entertaining another substitution that is equally soothing.
“I turn it into something not as threatening, as a person who isn’t going to reject them,” she explains. “You have to change your thinking.”
Always Go For the Kiss
Providing, of course, the evening wasn’t a disaster and that your date isn’t sending signals indicating that such action would be unwelcome. If the date went well, the vibe seems right and you seem to be getting the non-verbal green light, bear this in mind:
“Flirting is like auditioning,” says Feinstein. “You know you’re going to lose, so you may as well go all out anyway and have fun with it.
“It’s also expectation and guts — women like guts. So you always go in for the kiss, because that shows confidence: ‘I don’t care if you like me or not, I’m still kissing you!’
“You look wimpy if you don’t.”
“Women have to understand that men have to be the hunters,” says Feinstein. “So let them make their moves. They need it for their egos.”