What I learned about successful dating from being an actress
The acting life can easily become all-consuming. Emotions flying everywhere – nerves before auditions and shows, not knowing if I’ll get the job or not, excitement on opening night, heartbreak when I’ve worked so hard for a job and then find out someone else got it! Having performed in shows like ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ on the London stage and ‘Mary Poppins’ internationally, I know it’s a rollercoaster, unpredictable, a whirlwind, and a joy.
Our jobs can become so much a part of who we are that sometimes it’s hard to leave our work persona behind us on dates. Other times, elements of our jobs can really help and we can use our work expertise in situations such as dating. Perhaps you are a teacher and can bring out the best in people, or perhaps your job requires you to make calculated decisions which helps you to know whether a relationship is worth pursuing.
It’s also important to know where to draw the line with work. Perhaps you have a high flying job and interview a lot of people – you need to make sure you relax and not interrogate your date! For me, I kept my acting career low key on my online dating profile until people got to know me. Either people were put off by the unsociable hours and the lifestyle or they were stage struck by the apparent glamour of an actor’s life. The practicalities of being an actress sometimes hindered relationships which is why I wanted people to know me for who I am. The acting profession can appear ‘glamorous’ and I didn’t want that to be an ‘idol’ in a relationship.
The important thing to remember is that your identity should be in Christ. You are a Christian first and foremost, not an actor, a plumber, a banker or a concierge. That comes secondary to Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
For me, there were many parts of my career that I could use in the dating environment. Here are three key things anyone can learn from:
Dealing with nerves – The nerves we get from dating can do strange things to us – we can freeze or babble in our conversations. Thankfully I work with my nerves every single day from performing on stage. Many times I’ve gone on mid-show for a role that I’ve not done before, or as an understudy, I could go for months without doing the role, only to be told I’m on at a moment’s notice. With live theatre, anything can happen, (and it does!) the nerves never disappear but you have to find a way to cope to keep them under control. Thankfully experience with dealing with nerves, helped me to channel them in the right direction (most of the time!) with dates.
Putting myself out there – With the competition in my job, I’m used to having to network and make sure I’m outgoing in my personality in order to make a good impression and be remembered. I tried to build relationships during press night parties of shows, by showing a genuine interest in people rather than treating them as a target to obtain a selfish end. Giving someone your full attention without agenda also helped in dates, by fully listening, giving eye contact and hopefully putting people at ease.
Making a good first impression – With auditions, the casting panel have made up their minds about you within the first few seconds. A judgement is made on whether you suit the part through how you look, act and conduct yourself. A good first impression is vital and part of this includes presentation and confidence which I incorporated into my dating life. I took time working out what to wear, how I looked, how I would introduce and present myself and how I wanted to come across. Entering a date with confidence (even if you don’t feel it!) without being arrogant was something I learnt from my auditions. Prayer before each audition and subsequently before each date helped me to put my confidence in God and not in my own strength.
A work/life balance is important but sometimes you can choose certain qualities from your work to help you gain confidence in dating. “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3: 23-24.)