The Guide to Creating Comfort

We've all been there. You're so excited to finally go on a real-life date with that attractive person you met online who apparently shares all your same interests and has been refreshingly polite and articulate in your online correspondence thus far. It's meant to be - you have a really good feeling about this one.

But then you meet in person and...it's just not going the way you imagined, expected, hoped for.

A persistent awkwardness hangs between the two of you, hindering the conversation and dulling whatever spark there was initially. You desperately want your date to warm up to you and to show any small sign that he/she feels a genuine connection to you. But honestly, the interaction is so tense and flat that neither of you are really feeling this date night. There seems to be nothing either one of you can do to save it - or is there?

If you get along fine online and have interesting, engaging conversations on whatever platform you use to communicate, that means that there is a person underneath the surface that you can connect to. The problem is simply that the person needs to be drawn out of their shell a little. Real life interaction has so many visceral aspects that can overwhelm a shy person, especially when one gets too used to communicating behind a screen. In order to coax people into feeling comfortable and being themselves however, you have to first feel at ease with yourself and the situation.

Comfort is contagious. If you feel relaxed, others will sense it and naturally let down their guard as well. Here are some ways you can create that feeling of ease in your interaction with someone:

1. Smile and laugh often.

You might be feeling a little shy and uncomfortable yourself, but appearing happy will mask the awkwardness of first-time meetups. If there is a lull in the conversation and you are at a momentary loss for what to say next, smile - it will put both your date and you at ease, helping you to think with a relaxed mind. Don't be afraid to laugh out loud if something awkward happens (ex. you fumble your fork and drop it on the floor) or if you just happen to notice something funny. Not only does it make you seem like you are confident and have a good sense of humor (both deemed attractive traits), you will also appear laid-back enough for your date to let down his/her guard. 

2. Speak slowly and thoughtfully.

When you are nervous, your speech tends to rise in pitch and increase in speed. If you are talking in a fast, nervous way, your date will subconsciously feel on edge and uncomfortable as well. Consciously slow your speech, and don't feel like you have to fill every single silence that occurs with lots of random chatter. Taking time to think each time before you say something will help you to have that slow, calming manner of speaking. Furthermore, you will then be likely to answer questions more thoroughly and make more substantial observations. You will come across as genuine and not concerned with being "cool," which will in turn encourage your date to express himself/herself more truthfully as well.

3. Make eye contact.

Not savvy with words? Eye contact is an easy way to build familiarity without saying a thing. Keep your gaze attentive and connected with his/hers as your date is talking. And don't avert your eyes right when one of you is done talking - a lingering gaze makes your date feel like you are sincerely interested and builds attraction as well. Of course having engaging conversation is what is most important to building a true connection, but you can help your conversations be more effectively familiarizing by making eye contact often.

4. Break the touch barrier.

Once the touch barrier has been broken, a relationship is elevated to a more mutually comfortable place (unless of course, the touch is unwanted). There are many ways of breaking the touch barrier casually, without coming off as aggressive or creepy. You can touch someone's arm to get their attention when you are pointing something out or when leaning in to hear what they are saying better. If you are a man, putting your hand lightly on your date's back when walking somewhere is a gentle and reassuring gesture. Both parties will probably be highly conscious of any form of touch at first, but the more you integrate casual touch into your interactions early on, the sooner you both get used to it.

5. Draw your questions and conversation topics from your environment.

Asking the standard introductory questions about education and career path may be an easy go-to conversation starter, but can make your date feel like he/she is sitting through an interview. The last time we checked, interviews were not known for making people feel like they are relaxed and having a good time. If you don't have a well of interesting questions and topics just bubbling in your head, be resourceful and draw ideas from your surroundings. Point out the interesting behaviors or clothing styles of those around you, and ask your date what he/she thinks of the crowd here. If you are both able to talk about your opinions, rather than your "stats," you will learn a lot more about each other's true personality and values, and feel more genuinely connected with each other.

Incorporate these tips into your behavior and speech, and you will find that your conversations flow effortlessly and your connection with people is stronger. Overall, your interactions will feel much more mutually comfortable!