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The dating game can be nerve wracking. It’s only natural to worry about how you’ll come across and whether or not your date will like you. But no matter how shy or socially awkward you feel, you can overcome your nerves and self-consciousness and forge a great connection.

Focus outward, not inward. To combat first-date nerves, focus your attention on what your date is saying and doing and what’s going on around you, rather than on your internal thoughts. Staying fully present in the moment will help take your mind off worries and insecurities.

Be curious. When you’re truly curious about someone else’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, stories, and opinions, it shows—and they’ll like you for it. You’ll come across as far more attractive and interesting than if you spend your time trying to promote yourself to your date. And if you aren’t genuinely interested in your date, there’s little point in pursuing the relationship further.

Be genuine. Showing interest in others can’t be faked. If you’re just pretending to listen or care, your date will pick up on it. No one likes to be manipulated or placated. Rather than helping you connect and make a good impression, your efforts will most likely backfire. If you aren’t genuinely interested in your date, there is little point in pursuing the relationship further.

Pay attention. Make an effort to truly listen to the other person. By paying close attention to what they say, do, and how they interact, you’ll quickly get to know them. Little things go a long way, such as remembering someone’s preferences, the stories they’ve told you, and what’s going on in their life.

Put your smartphone away.You can’t truly pay attention or forge a genuine connection when you’re multitasking. Nonverbal communication—subtle gestures, expressions, and other visual cues—tell us a lot about another person, but they’re easy to miss unless you’re tuned in.