Call us romantics, but there's something appealing about falling in love during the holiday season -- the lights, the music, the carols... it's all so 'Love Actually.' But approaching that attractive guy or gal at a festive fete can feel like an insurmountable task, especially when close family or friends are around.
To help ease the pressure of holiday dating, we chatted with Dr. Teesha Morgan, a sex therapist and couples counsellor from Vancouver. Here are some of her top tips to navigate the season's potentially unnerving -- and fulfilling -- social situations.
Believe In Yourself
Confidence is sexy. Morgan's advice: Fake it til you make it. "Essentially, insecurity and a lack of confidence are all about internal struggles to accept ourselves and the outside world. If you aren't emotionally secure and confident in who you are, you aren't going to attract the right kind of people. Therefore, if you start to feel nervous, remind yourself not only of your good qualities, but that no matter what happens, you will survive. The chance for reward is worth the risk."
Break The Ice
When it comes to starting up a conversation with someone you're interested in, there are a few key things to remember. First, how you present yourself matters, no matter how vain that may seem. Eye contact is also important. "Both speak to approachability, confidence and friendliness," says Morgan. "It's also best to leave the cheesy [pick-up] lines at home. Commenting on [something that] just happened or the overuse of Christmas decorations at the staff party is a better place to start."
She also advises people ignore their nerves and really listen to what other people say. "The attractiveness of listening is highly underrated. Science shows we tend to like -- and gravitate toward -- individuals who listen well. [It makes us] feel as though we are better understood. Plus, if you can keep the conversation [focused] on the person you're talking to (asking appropriate and intelligent questions sparred by their answers) they're more likely to feel as though you two have a connection."
Laugh Off Verbal Stumbles
"We've all inserted a foot, or two, into our mouths at some point. Recovering from such fumbles may not be as hard as you think. If you have the wherewithal to inject a little comedy into the situation, and poke fun of yourself, more times than not you'll come out OK."
Notice When Someone's Attracted To You
There are some surefire ways to tell if someone is attracted to you. Here's where the eye contact thing comes in again, especially if the person of your affection holds a glance for longer than a few seconds. Other cues, says Morgan, include body language -- a person may constantly turn to face you or mimic your movements. "Also, when an individual constantly finds subtle ways to touch you -- such as putting a hand on your arm when you laugh or an arm around your lower back as you walk through a doorway -- you can usually be assured they'd like future [interaction]." And if a person throws constant compliments your way and makes an overt effort to talk to you, they may well be attracted to you.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
"One of the best pieces of advice I can give when trying to attract the opposite sex... is to be hard to get, not play hard to get. For example, every man and woman wants someone who is confident and independent, not needy. We want to feel as though winning the prize of this new person's affection inherently speaks to the fact we are special. Also, try not to play off too many of your assets all at once (such as wearing a short skirt and low-cut top); instead, choose one asset to draw attention to. This will help keep a person's attention while creating just the right amount of seduction."
Something else to avoid, Morgan says: Talking about past relationships and expressing bitterness or negative feelings. "Aside from that, simply be yourself. When you have a passion, when you have intelligent things to talk about and when you can hold a conversation, you are miles ahead of the next pretty face."