We can all tend towards this character flaw without even realizing it.
Narcissism is on the rise—anecdotally, at least—in the dating world. First dates where one person does all the talking are happening more often. This recent article, for example, discusses, “The depressing phenomenon of men who ask their dates no questions.” Imagine being on a first date, and being unable to share anything about yourself because the person you’re talking to doesn’t ask, and is happy to keep talking. That experience is not a good foundation for a relationship, and will definitely not lead to a second date.
Certain factors in today’s society seem to help normalize putting yourself center stage on a date. Sharing play-by-plays of your life on social media and showcasing your successes on apps for everything from schools to potential employers help reinforce the idea that you need to look and act successful to be successful. But self-aggrandizement isn’t a good base for relationships. And while we may not be full-blown narcissists, we all can tend towards character flaws related to narcissism without even realizing it.
There are two easy ways to avoid self-centeredness on first dates:
First dates are not a time for just you to shine by rehashing your Linked In profile, or your highlight reel. Relationships are about give and take, and the conversation should go back and forth, rather than being one-sided. You can’t care for someone you don’t know anything about. If you find yourself carrying on a monologue, change course by asking an open-ended question.
2If you are planning the date, make it about your date (not about you)
Use what you know about your date to pick a location or activity they would enjoy. If you don’t know much about them, make sure your goal in your first date is to learn enough about them that you could plan a second date they would really like.
Avoiding self-centeredness on dates is not enough, though. It’s important to practice putting others first in any situation. Here are a few ideas on how to avoid selfishness in the rest of your life, so that the person you are with a first date is consistent with the person you are with everyone else.
The golden rule for this is the Golden Rule. Use the principle “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or the shorter “think of others first” in all of your interactions.
Don’t insist on your own way
Actually listen to other people’s opinions so that you can learn from them. Practice this in small everyday decisions.
Let people go in front of you
Perhaps you were there first. Perhaps you chose the shortest line for a reason. Whatever the case, if you invite someone behind you to step in front of you, it helps chip away at that natural selfishness that is present in all of us.
Don’t take your frustrations out on someone who is serving you
That may be a server in a restaurant, a tech on the phone, or a company representative you are emailing. Showing respect to everyone has to extend to the people around us when we’re upset and trying to solve a problem.
Cultivate a sense of awe
The virtue of humility can help people overcome self-centered tendencies, explains this author. She shows that going to museums, watching Planet Earth, and visiting beautiful places in nature are all ways to increase wonder and help you realize where you fit into the grand scheme of life.
Taking little steps to self-improvement is often much harder than taking big steps. But, it’s the little habits we have that end up making a big difference in relationships. When you’re getting ready for your next first date, make sure you shower, wear well-fitting clothes and put your phone away out of sight. But most importantly, check your selfishness at the door.