You may be an idiot, but there is no obligation to show it!

“When on a date, you should just be yourself” – is that correct? That totally depends on what “being yourself” looks like. It also very much depends on what stage in the dating process. If “being yourself” involves playing silly antics or cracking jokes with people around you, then quite possibly it would be worth reining that in until you feel “the coast is clear.” In shidduch dating, you are never advised to just show up your natural self. You are always going to be encouraged to dress smart, find a smart location, be extra polite and considerate – even if, truth be told, you would not normally do this if you were not on a date. 

Act your best self.

“Being yourself” is highly overrated during the early stages of dating. Better advice would be to “act your best self.” No, you are not faking or misleading. Rather, you are being responsible, respectful and respectable. This is not the time to act the fool, even if that is not uncommon for you. During your first few dates – and probably beyond – it is not a good idea to test out all your wackiest jokes. Before you have established trust and closeness, it is not a great strategy to wheel out your fiercest political positions. Hold your horses; keep yourself in check. 

You may think that it is fun to have an alcoholic drink with someone, but is that what you have come on a date for? You are engaging in a process that will hopefully help you make the most important decision of your life. It is not a bad idea that you stay sober throughout. But at least leave the inebriation to a point after you have already established sound compatibility. You are going on a date, not meeting up with your drinking buddy. Stay focused on your goal. You want to calm your nerves? There are better ways to do that, ways that do not involve impairing your capacity to reason.

The person you are dating has no context yet for your silliness.

So, you have an interesting fashion sense? That’s fine. It’s part of who you are and what makes you unique. But do you need to make a big fashion statement on your second date? Quite possibly not. The person you are dating has no context yet; you are almost a total stranger to them. It is absolutely fine to play it safe at the beginning. By all means you can reveal that you like “characterful” clothes, but leave your most dramatic pieces for when you have built up some rapport and established some credibility. Don’t come in from the beginning with “shock and awe.”

You may be tempted to crack a joke about her name or to make a critical remark about his family. Harmless fun, no? Inadvisable. You don’t know whether that is a sore issue, and you are unnecessarily risking upset. By all means, be yourself in the sense of having an open and honest conversation about yourself and your life, but leave “stupid” out of things. Avoid saying or doing things that can cause alarm, before you have truly earned the right to such things. Once you properly know each other, and it is clear that you are a nice person who means no harm, you can let your guard down more. Even then, remember that you are engaged in something solemn and serious – dating is not a game. A shidduch is not the time to act the fool.


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