Health Advice



Erika Ettin: Practice makes … less awkward

By Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Health & Fitness

Let's say you have a job in mind that you really want to get. In fact, it's your dream job. It's the one you've been waiting your whole career for ... and you finally got the interview! (Insert pat on the back here.) Would it be better to start with that dream job interview, after years of your interviewing skills collecting dust, or should you instead go to a different interview - a practice - first? Most people would say the latter ... and I agree.

Now, let's say that dream job is instead a dream life partner. If you've been out of the dating scene for a long time (or have never been in it to begin with), perhaps due to a long-term relationship ending, then using online dating to gain practice is a better solution than going in cold and perhaps not being comfortable.

A now-married friend once wrote to me, "I just took down my online dating profile because I started dating someone a few weeks ago and we defined the relationship last night. I didn't meet him online, but I do think that I was a lot more comfortable going on dates with him because I'd been getting a lot of practice with dating, figuring out how to be slightly less awkward at ending dates, and really identifying what was important to me and which behaviors to look for. Everyone knows the old adage that 'practice makes perfect,' but I don't know if a lot of people really think about how much that can be applied to date-like interactions, which can be complex. I really do think it helped build up my confidence and comfort level with guys."

I completely agree. I'm glad my friend had had this practice so that when she met the guy she's now married to, she not only had the knowledge that he was the right fit for her but also the confidence in her own dating abilities, which hadn't been present before.

Even today, I was having a Zoom coaching call with a male client in his early 20s. He happens to be on the autism spectrum and, due to that and being somewhat of a late bloomer, has never been on a date. (I work with a number of people on the spectrum, and it's one of the most rewarding parts of my job.) As we were going through swiping and writing together, he was dismissing women he thought weren't looking for a long-term relationship. My response? "A long-term relationship!? Let's at least get you on a date first to see how it goes!" I didn't want him passing up potential opportunities to get his feet wet (aka a date) because their long-term goals might not be aligned. One day, it'll be important that he looks for someone who wants a committed relationship, but today is not that day. Each incremental step will get him closer to his goals.


While I don't know if or when this client will find the same outcome that my friend did, I have confidence that with a little practice, he'll be more comfortable for when the right woman comes along.


(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter, for updates and tips.)

(c)2020 Erika Ettin, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.