Ask Elana: Just be yourself?

The most common piece of dating advice has to be, “Just be yourself.” It’s something we’ve all heard our friends say as we grab our coats and race out the door to meet a new man or woman. But does it work?

JS_38-39Elana.inddWhat does being yourself really mean?

Is there a true self we can choose to perform or conceal? Or do our personalities shift and transform depending on our environments?

We change.

The side of ourselves we reveal at Bubbe’s seder table is drastically different from the self we present at a concert with friends. Yet, both versions of ourselves are authentic.

The question then becomes, “Which version of myself should I present on a first date to attract a match?”

Now we’re getting closer.

If the version of yourself who appears on first dates is nervous, sweaty, and stammering, then you need to rethink your presentation. Try channeling the way you feel around your closest friends to help you make a great first impression on a date.

Think about how you feel in the company of your closest friends: self-assured, secure and relaxed. You don’t need to brag about your accomplishments or prove your worth because they already know and love you. You can crack a joke, handle a silence, and interpret non-verbal cues seamlessly. Sharing this comfortable side of yourself is attractive to matches.

“Well Elana,” you might be thinking, “It’s all fine and good to tell me to act confident and relaxed when I’m on a date, but my date is out of my league, and I’m intimidated and afraid of rejection.”

OK, got it. You really like this person, and you want the date to go off without a hitch.

Here’s a game plan for presenting your best self on dates:

  • Get in the mood. Pull on that one outfit that shows all your best features, listen to a song that energizes you, and call a friend who thinks the world of you.
  • Do your research. Learn about the venue where you are meeting in advance, so you know what to expect, where to park, what to order and how to get the best seats.
  • Come prepared. Have at least five interesting conversation topics to avoid any awkward silences.
  • Enjoy yourself. If you’re having fun, there’s a high likelihood your date will have fun too.
  • Keep a healthy perspective. Remember, this is only a first date and it won’t determine the rest of your life. If you’re a match, you’ll have the luxury of time to fall in love and build a life together.

If not, then you get to meet someone new!

Elana Averbach is an experienced dating coach and licensed professional counselor. She founded the dating company, KickStartLove, to help singles find love. She leads dating seminars, and organizes singles events where thousands of singles have connected. For more information, visit

Have questions?
Anyone who’s interested in dating advice, ages 16-106, including but not limited to persons who are single, divorced, Jewish, interfaith, into the Jews, with or without kids, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, monogamous, polyamorous – you name it – can submit a question. Questions from married couples who are seeking advice on how to nurture and support their relationships are also encouraged. Send questions to, and if your question is selected, the answer will appear in this column.

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