First impressions count. 

My mum always taught me to wear clean knickers, just in case of an accident.

This nugget of advice got me thinking; everything in life excels with a little preparation. The presentation you are giving at work. That interview for your dream job. Your first date with the girl you have been swooning over for the last year. You wouldn’t rock up in your torn jeans, wild eyed with hair looking like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards. Would you?

Showing up as the authentic and real you on a date begins with a little preparation.

Firstly, be clear about why you are dating. Are you trying to fulfil a need or are you genuinely looking for someone to enjoy and share your life with? When you are clear on this, ask yourself the following questions. What is important for me in a relationship? What do I value in a partner? When you date with this level of clarity, you show up as the real you and the quality of your dates will step up a notch or two.

Think about what you love before you head out on a date. What topics of conversation interest you? Do you have a creative passion such as art, music, theatre, photography, food or clothing? Are you interested in sports? Do you have any hobbies? Are you a member of a club or groups? Thinking about this ahead of your date will flag up good conversation starters. Long gone will be those dates with awkward silences and one word answers.

Plan where you are going to go on your date. Listen up ladies. You don’t have to go to a bar. Consider an activity based date focused around what you love.

Let’s turn to the basics. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready and allow time to get to your date. No one appreciates a girl arriving puffing and panting, making excuses for being late. Arrive early and you will feel more peaceful and relaxed. Dress in something that makes you feel confident and reflects your style. And please, restrict your drinking. It is not cool to get inebriated and pass out before the end of your date.

The day of your date is here. Two killer things that will ensure you stay in your authentic and real self: Relax. Be absolutely present with your date. Strike up a conversation with your date by asking about the things that they love. Listen – not for the gaps. The magic happens in the silence. Listen to hear what they love. Don’t jump in to let them know you are the ‘same’. Let them talk with no interruptions. Be genuinely interested and curious about who they are and what they love. Don’t forget to talk about the things you love too – look for those shared interests.

The ultimate conversation killer? Mobile phones. Put your phone away. No one likes to feel second best to a Facebook Scroll.

Bring all of you to the date. Don’t hide behind a mask or pretend you are something you are not. There is no need to compare yourself to them or to impress them. Drop your ego. Be you. Be natural. Be inquisitive. Be real.

Lastly, if something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts. Rely on your inner voice to guide you.

A successful date is one where you have connected authentically. True connection comes from accepting and embracing all of who you are and sharing yourself with love and kindness with another. Go out there, have fun and shine your beautiful, authentic light.