Do you get nervous before a first date? Do feel that it is hard to be yourself when meeting someone new? Here are some strategies to help you feel confident about yourself in no time!

Dr. Chaya Newman: In order to make a good impression, each person has to know himself/herself. If taking a walk or sitting in a hotel lobby is something that makes you feel uncomfortable, I think that it's important to say something. If you don't want to have very much conversation before a first date and may even want the matchmaker to set up the date, then suggest that. The goal is to feel as relaxed as possible. The key is knowing your own limitations and comfort zones.

Having made these statements, another part of making a good impression is looking one's best. However, this is very subjective since each person interprets beauty in a different way. For example, some men don't like to go out with women who use make-up too liberally. Some women like men whose clothes are clean and pressed. It may be wise to know this information before the first meeting. Therefore, it is important to take enough time to get ready for the date.

Rabbi Simcha and Chaya Feuerman: There is no contradiction to "being yourself" and still putting your best foot forward. Every relationship thrives on respecting and understanding boundaries. The more intimate the relationship, the more one reveals about personal matters, but we always keep something about ourselves private. Just as we do not walk around without clothes, we also do not expose ourselves to everyone equally.

In addition, dressing and behaving formally usually conveys an ability and willingness to comply with societal standards which is very important to project in the beginning of a relationship. Relationships require safety and trust to thrive. In the early stages, more attention is needed in this area because the other may be anxious and unsure about the person. To illustrate, often people will interview for various jobs wearing clothing that is much more formal than the job's actual dress code. There is good reason for this as an employee wants to show an ability to be respectful and organized. Dating in the early stages is no different.

Obviously, as the relationship progresses, the individuals should gradually lower barriers and talk about more deep and personal concerns, as well as share flaws and shortcomings. At that point, it is important to develop the relationship so that one feels more and more that "you could be yourself." Nevertheless, one should always try to impress and romance the other person -- even after you are married for 20 years it is key to constantly work to make yourself attractive to your spouse. That is not about being phoney, or "not being yourself", it just is an act of courtesy and love to help your spouse feel good about being with you.

Rabbi Dov Heller: To me being yourself means being open and honest with your feelings about how you feel about the other person. Therefore, one should always be oneself from the beginning. After all, if we hide our feelings now, what kind of relationship are we building and how can we know if this is the right person for me? The real goal of dating is to get to know each other and the only way to do that is to be open and honest emotionally.

Rabbi Arnie Singer: You should always “be yourself”. Sure, you want to polish up a bit for a date just like you would for a business meeting, interview, or dinner party. But that shouldn’t change who you are. It should only enhance your good qualities. Dating is the process of getting to know someone to determine whether you can and want to spend the rest of your life with them. You want to make certain that you are seeing the “real” person you are with, and that they are seeing who you really are, so that you both can make an informed decision. However, if you’re not comfortable with who you are, then you should invest some serious time and effort to make the changes necessary to become the person you really want to be.

Dr. Chaya Newman is an educator in Israel, and a SYAS matchmaker. She encourages singles to use her as a coach and share any challenges that they may have. Contact Chaya at chayamend@gmail.com with Subject “SYAS”

Rabbi Simcha CSW and Chaya Feuerman, CSW, write a column in the Jewish Press on religion, relationships and parenting. They have a private psychotherapy practice in Queens, NY. Simcha also serves as Director of Community Services at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services.

Rabbi Dov Heller is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He is the Director of Los Angeles Aish HaTorah Counseling Center, founder of the Relationship Institute, and runs a private practice. He provides international coaching and counseling via telephone. Contact him at www.claritytalk.com.

Rabbi Arnie Singer is a matchmaker on SYAS and the founder of Jcoach.com – Dating and Relationship Advice with a Jewish Twist.

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