How to loosen up an uptight date

DatingYou two had great online chat, and your phone calls were filled with witty banter. But now that this hot prospect is sitting face-to-face with you on a date, it’s painfully obvious that nervousness has this person in a vice grip. Your potentially wonderful evening has turned into an uncomfortable mix of halting small talk and awkward silences.

Your best option is to use some smart measures to crack through your date’s defenses and help him or her relax so you can, too. Let’s take a closer look at option B to help your anxious date chill out a bit.

Acknowledge the elephant in the room
When there’s tension in the air, sometimes the best thing to do is acknowledge it. “If you’re bold, say something like, ‘First dates are always so uncomfortable — wanna pretend it’s our second?’”

Look like you’re listening
Nervousness often melts away when someone’s certain the other person is genuinely interested romantically. And while you could swear you’ve been nothing but attentive as your date recounted his or her first attempt at surfing in Costa Rica, your expression might show otherwise. “A lot of people, without realizing it, offer very little facial feedback.”

Shine the spotlight on yourself
When dates act tense, it’s usually because they’re worried about the impression they’re making. “People get really preoccupied with themselves, and the best way to get them to loosen up is to put all the attention on you.”

Share a mortifying confession
Remember that moment you tripped dramatically walking into a party or made a Freudian slip in front of your boss? Finally, some good can come out of your past humiliations if you’re willing to share this personal tidbit with your date. “In awkward moments, what seems to work is telling an embarrassing story. It lightens the mood and relaxes the whole situation.”

Ask your date for advice
Everyone loves being helpful, so draw out a shy date by soliciting his or her opinion. “Say something that shows your vulnerability, like ‘Can you help me figure out what’s good on this menu? I tend to order the wrong thing.’

Throw in some curveball questions
If anyone knows what it’s like to make conversation with someone who holds his or her cards close to the vest, it’s Eric Alt, a Los Angeles-based celebrity interviewer. His advice? Break the tension by asking something unexpected.

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