How to Be Fully Present on a Date
I give a lot of advice about dating — both here on my blog, and in my coaching sessions. Being in this business for over nine years, plus having done my 100-date experiment, I have a ton of information to give, and I love doing it. Still, I can’t look someone in the eye and always guarantee their dates will go well. That’s because sometimes it’s not just about rules and formulas. There’s one more secret: You need to know how to be fully present on a date.
Maybe “being fully present” sounds weird. So what do I mean by that? I’ll put it another way: Your date can’t go well if you’re mentally distracted.
Distraction comes in different forms. You may get too worried about how you come across, constantly thinking of what you’re going to say. Or you might get bored too easily and don’t bother trying to get to know the other person. I’ve also heard people get so “in their head” that the date ends up feeling like one long mental analysis than a real lived experience.
Being present on a date means you can be yourself without overthinking. And if you can be yourself on dates, you’ll find out who you’re compatible with much quicker.
So today, let’s talk about presence. It’s both an art and a science.
9 Tips on How to Be Fully Present on a Date
To be fully present on a date, you first have to set it up the right way. Then, you need to learn to stay in the moment. Here are nine tips that can help you do both.
1. Plan an Outdoor Date
I often tell my clients to plan outdoor dates, especially as second dates. First, let me explain: I see the first date as more mental. While you might be looking for a spark, you also want to ask great questions so you can weed out any bad apples. I always say you can decide whether someone’s worth a second date after talking to them for about an hour.
But the second date is different. You chose to see this person again, so now you want to know if there’s chemistry. Problem is, you can’t be in your head for this one. You have to be fully present.
Outdoor dates help you get out of your head and into your body because being outside stimulates the senses. You feel, hear, see, and smell much more when you’re outside which puts you in your body much more than sitting at a coffee shop.
So if you’re seeing someone for the second time, or just want to be more present on a date, do something outside together. This could be as simple as a walk through a park or as vigorous as an afternoon of rock climbing.
2. Make It Physical
Speaking of rock climbing, activities that boost the nervous system can definitely help you be fully present on a date. When you’re deeply engaged in physical activity, you’re feeling, not thinking. Many studies show that exercise makes your brain release dopamine, which helps you feel less stressed and anxious. Once you lower your anxiety, you can be more present.
If you plan activities that strategically put you in your body, it will set you up nicely to be present on your dates. Maybe take a jiu-jitsu beginner’s class to take together or meet up for a long bike ride in a scenic area.
The key is to do something that gets your heart rate up. That way, you will focus more on the activity rather than what’s going on in your head.
3. Make It Social
Having other people around can help you be fully present on a date as well. Whether it’s friends or strangers, other people can relieve the pressure of having to keep the conversation going yourself.
Other people also provide tons of external stimuli. This pulls you out of thinking about yourself, making all those anxious thoughts in your head subside. Once that happens, you can relax and be more present for your date.
I can hear you asking: But what if I have social anxiety? Remember that social anxiety also makes you self-focused. You’re overly worried about what people think of you. So you still need to get out of your head and turn your focus toward others. If large groups scare you, then I suggest doing this with just one or two people and taking my advice in #4.
4. Get Curious About the Other Person
Curiosity can pull you out of your head instantly and make you fully present on a date.
You can get curious about your date or even someone else who happens to be there if it’s a social gathering. Either way, take a moment to ask someone a genuine question. It can make you feel calmer, less “on the spot,” and more interested in what’s going on in the moment. This is how to be more present on a date.
Here’s one way you can approach it: Whenever you don’t feel fully present on a date, wiggle your toes. This will remind you that you have a body and you’re not just a floating head. Next, focus on the other person and ask them a question that you actually care about the answer to. (If you don’t care about the answer, you’ll pop right back into your head and won’t listen.)
After that, listen to what they have to say. Then try asking polarizing questions that compel emotional responses. For example: What kinds of puppies do you hate the most? The conversation will slowly become more interesting and make you forget all about yourself… I promise.
5. Have an Adult Beverage
If you drink, then you know that a few sips of your favorite adult beverage can snap you out of your head real quick! And there’s nothing wrong with that. Using it moderately to take the edge off in order to be more fully present on a date isn’t bad. But of course, you don’t want to have too many or your charm will wear off.
Here’s the thing about drinking. If you use it just to loosen up or get over initial moments of anxiety, it can help you be more present for a date. But remember, the goal is to get out of your head… not to completely disconnect. Too much alcohol can push you to a place where you’re so “out of your head” that you don’t care about the person in front of you. And that defeats the whole point, right?
6. Make It Scary
Make yourself more fully present on a date by boosting your nervous system with anxiety-producing activities and questions. When you do something that adds a risk-taking element, you stimulate the nervous system through adrenaline, which throws you instantly into your body and way outside of your head.
Think zip-lining, rock climbing, kiteboarding, paddleboarding, etc. Or, you can also do this through conversation by asking boundary-pushing questions like, “What does sex mean to you?” These types of questions will quickly get you both out of your head because they’re a little taboo and hence risky and adrenaline-producing.
7. Consider When You Are Naturally Not in Your Head
Are there times when you normally feel present? Then try to reproduce those things on your date.
For example, I notice that I get out of my head when I’m doing something physical that’s almost a little “dangerous” (but not really). I may be trying not to fall while doing a crazy yoga pose, going ice skating, or walking alongside a cliff. Or if I’m tired, I’m less in my head too (perhaps tired from a big workout or just a long week). Things like dancing get me out of my head as well.
So, try to create date ideas where you couldn’t possibly be in your head, even if you tried. Maybe a trip to the animal shelter will get you both so focused on the dogs you couldn’t care less about yourselves. Or a partnered dance class might have you so deep in a groove that the whole night seems to fly by.
8. Meditate Before Each Date
Meditation, often more than anything else, can help you be more present for a date. It will help you practice taking your attention off of your thoughts. Don’t worry if you can’t do this consistently when you first start meditating; just keep practicing the act of noticing when you are in your head, and then refocusing your attention on your body or breath.
The more you meditate, the easier it will be for you to be present in any situation, not just on a date. So if you can, make it a habit. It will benefit you in many ways.
You can start meditating by simply setting the timer on your phone, closing your eyes, and trying to focus only on your breath for at least five straight minutes. Do this daily and see if you can eventually do it for even longer.
Guided meditations are available as well. Look on YouTube or try one of the many meditation apps out there. One app for skeptics includes 10% Happier, which offers five-minute guided meditations.
When you MegaDate, you go on as many dates as you can in a short period. This could mean setting up multiple dates in a week, or even a day!
With the right tweaks to your online dating profile and coaching, anyone can learn to MegaDate. Once you do, you’ll get into a rhythm of meeting and talking to people that naturally gets you out of your head. After having so many dates in quick succession, you won’t be as anxious. You’ll be less concerned with your own thoughts and more relaxed.
You also won’t have the time and space anymore to overthink because MegaDating fills up your social calendar. You’ll always be focused outwards, building your dating funnel and going out with interesting people instead. At that point, you’ll lose the need to overthink things because the MegaDating process will raise the quality of your whole dating experience. Then, guess what? Knowing how to be fully present on a date won’t be such a mystery anymore because you’ll just have fun.
How to Be Fully Present on a Date: Wrap-Up
Figuring out how to be fully present on a date can help you see the true value of every date you go on. Sometimes, when people tell me about their dates, they get so into criticism mode that they can’t see past the other person’s flaws or their own dating “mistakes.”
I get that a lot of dates suck. But as you learn about yourself, start to MegaDate, meet different people, and decide what you want in a partner, every date has valuable information that can help you get to your goal. That woman who wouldn’t shut up about her ex may remind you of how you need to work on your patience. Or that guy who didn’t compliment your outfit might make you question your constant need for attention.
But if you don’t know how to be present for a date, you will miss these lessons. Want to know what’s even sadder? You’ll miss out on the good stuff too… that person who’s compatible with you and trying to connect, right in the here-and-now!
Nobody wants to be on the dating market forever. (Ok, maybe some people do.) But many of us are looking for a long-term partner to settle down with. If that’s you, then you need to make each date count. This means you need to be present every time.
Knowing how to be present can be difficult so my team and I are here to help with the process. Contact us to set up your intro call so we can talk about how we can either get you off the dating market for good or having so much fun that you could care less. Either way, our coaching and matchmaking programs can jumpstart your dating life, starting today.