How to behave on a Valentine’s date, according to a body language expert
It’s not creepy advice, it’s good advice
You have a date for Valentine’s Day but you’re terrible at casual conversation and can barely look anyone in the eyes.
You don’t know if you should go in for a kiss, a hug or a handshake and you’re grinning like an idiot — you’re a hapless romantic.
Leading body language expert Judi James knows all of this and has a list of tips to help your date go smoothly.
Judi’s advice is more suited to you if you’re not trying to be a sweating wreck instead of become a self-loathing pick-up artist with empty eyes.
Read these rules, put on a nice shirt and check your hair in the mirror before stepping out and you’ll probably be fine.
The start is key
Judi explains how the initial moments of your date can be the most important.
“The first few seconds are vital so plan for your approach rather than leaving your body language to chance.
“This is the moment of ultimate paranoia for your date. Not only will they be wanting to evaluate you, they will be tuning into your signals of evaluation too, looking for rejection or disappointment, so your smile of approval will probably never be as vital.
“Don’t overdo the friendliness though. Looking cool or unhappy is wrong but so is leaping around like an overexcited puppy. We tend to distrust signals of over-friendliness and rate the person doing them as fake so pay eye-attention, use an eye-smile and avoid over-baring the teeth if you smile.”
Be intimate early on
Judi recommends making a small romantic gesture in the beginning to set the tone of the evening.
“Get within the intimate space straight away. Keeping at stranger space will create barriers that will be harder the longer you do it. Don’t be gropey or grabby or course.
“A kiss on the cheek or a touch on the shoulder will be enough to break down barriers instantly. If you don’t get there within the first three seconds it will become more difficult as the date goes on.
“Mirroring is also vital to create rapport. This means subtly copying your date’s style of movement or pace but don’t take this too far. Like-bodied looks like-minded but if you’re overdoing it you could look odd and fake.”
Stay calm and listen to her/him
Judi says it’s key to be chilled, not be too cocky and above all — listen.
“Some people overcompensate and come across as slightly arrogant which is a bad thing. Nerves can show your date you see the evening as a big deal. It shows a degree of respect for the occasion.
“If you display a level of shyness, that’s fine. It’s almost flirtatious, in fact that’s what blushing is all about.
“But the best body language on a date is active listening skills. Ask questions then look interested in the answer, using eye contact, nodding and reacting to what you are being told.
“Never look around the room or keep glancing at your phone while they’re talking. Undivided attention is vital.”
The animal instincts of dating
Ultimately we’re all just mammals sizing each other up as mates, says Judi, and you should remember that when you’re going out with someone.
“If you’re on a first date we cannot help but assess one another for mating potential. We’re looking for cleanliness, for signs of good health, if they have good teeth, no spots and so on.
“If you turn up looking unwell, it could be too much for your date. It sounds awful and some people can’t help having spots say, but you can overcome it by being charismatic.
“The ones who get the guys and the girls, I bet they’re not actually that beautiful. They’re the ones with the good characters and the good body language.
“In terms of looks, in particular with facial features, it’s what you do with them that counts.”