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End the cycle of bad first dates

Dating coach Laurel House says singles shouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
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Laurel House knows how difficult it is to talk about being unlucky in love. But that hasn’t stopped the dating coach and television host from often talking about her own romantic missteps.

“In my coaching, I often use myself as an example,” House says. “I understand what you are going through ... I’ve probably been there myself.”

One mistake House says she sees many singles make is being too timid and general on dates, meaning that they never allow their potential romantic interests to see their true personalities.

“I call it ‘getting raw.’ If you look at the risk and reward [on a date], you have to get raw,” says House. “The reward is that you can take a conversation that’s benign and turn it into something special.”

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We asked House — the author of the new book “Screwing the Rules: The No-Games Guide to Love” — to break down what “getting raw” means.

Ask lots of questions: And she doesn’t mean the typical first date questions about your job or how many siblings you have — those can feel too much like a job interview. “Ask questions that are going to spark something real,” advises House. “Be yourself. At the very least, you aren’t going to be bored.”

House recommends asking your date about their families and childhoods, but using those questions as a springboard into a conversation about values. “You can say something like, ‘Are you close with your family?’” she suggests. “And then you can say something like ‘I have a close relationship with my family too ... Five years ago my mom had an accident and what’s interesting is that since then we’ve been closer.”

Figure out the message you want to send: While coaching clients, House always recommends having three stories in mind that show who you really are, so pick wisely. “People connect through storytelling,” House explains. “That’s how we relate. So ask, ‘Do I want to walk away after having a forgettable conversation or do I want something real?’” Some readers are probably thinking that’s easier said than done. If you’re wondering how you can do that on a date, House suggests the following: “You have to put yourself out there,” she says. “Sit yourself down and ask, ‘What are my needs? Why am I here?’”

Be selective. Have you had a string of terrible online dates? “There are things that are avoidable,” she says. “I tell people to ‘prequalify’ their online dates by closely looking at their profiles. If you don’t even know if you want to be picked by him, don’t go on the date.”

Treat dates like special events: “We go into auto-pilot [on dates] because we don’t change the tone in our minds before the date,” she says. “If it’s just switching out your jacket or changing your jewelry or wearing red panties that only you can see, you can go in thinking, ‘I’m being myself.’”

Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.

 
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