You may have heard that giving a good impression is a valuable thing to remember when going on a date. However, it is important that your good image is founded on facts – you definitely need your date to know all about you without turning him or her off. So how do you balance the dating equation so that your date has a pleasant time but still gets to know “the real you” in the process? Simple – you rely on self-disclosure.

Self-disclosure is a process. This means you don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind – that can be embarrassing for you and your date. You should think carefully about what aspects of your life you are ready to disclose and what should be kept discreet. If this is a first date, you probably won’t need to bring up very heavy topics yet like your need to have children soon or your personal timetable for getting married. But on subsequent dates, it is normal and possibly very acceptable to bring up such topics. The awkward part may be who lays out their cards first. You will have to gauge the mood of your date to feel if he or she is ready to hear some of the more serious stuff – if they seem open, you can test the waters by giving a few basic facts. (This is also useful for opening the door to conversation).

You may have some aspects of your life that you have kept secret from others. Be careful about this, because you don’t want to scare your date away. For example, if you have a prison record or have been arrested in the past, you will have to decide how ready your date seems for this kind of revelation. If your date seems like a kind, caring and understanding individual then he or she might be ready for your self-disclosure. Otherwise, you may have to save that bit of info for another time and place.

Some people get really anxious on dates because they really want to give a favorable impression – but the problem with becoming that anxious is that your date may perceive you as being too enthusiastic. Check yourself periodically to see if you are behaving in a relaxed and friendly manner. You can probably gain fair warning that you are broadcasting your anxiety based on the expression on your date’s face or body language. Your date might not say out loud “You know, I think you’re too nervous,” but he or she may already be thinking it. So do try to relax as much as you can.

Self-disclosure can be a double-edged sword, because it can either work for you or against you. The way you disclose information can also influence how your date perceives you. If you are really nervous or anxious during your date, you may need help from an expert to figure out the causes of your nervousness or anxiety so that you don’t carry it with you during successive dates.

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