What I hear most from self-proclaimed “older singles” is that they feel frustrated. Every first date is another big effort from which they never see results. It’s that feeling of ‘Here we go again, another boringly repetitive date.’ Luckily, there are a few ways to break out of old habits and change your experience (and these tips work just as well for the first first date as for the 40th first date).

1. Change the way you ask questions.

Your goal on a first date is to see if you enjoy spending time together and can start making a connection. That’s it! If this is the latest in a long line of dates, making a connection might feel incredibly difficult. But open-ended question can help making a connection much easier, if there’s a connection to be made. Closed-ended questions, on the other hand, are conversation stoppers.

Here are a few examples of easy rephrasing that can lead to greater success a first date:

Don’t ask: “Where did you move from?”
Try asking: “Why did you decide to move?”

Don’t ask: “Do you have any free time?”
Try asking: “How do you like to spend your free time?”

Don’t ask: “When did you start your job?”
Try asking: “In what ways is this job different from your last job?”

You’ll notice that these questions are nearly the same. The difference is that the first options can be answered in one word, which might be followed by an awkward silence. Awkward silences can be avoided. The second option gives your date the opportunity to tell a little story, to share a small piece of his thoughts or feelings.

You can also answer questions this way even if your date asked a closed-ended question. If your date asks, “When did you start your job?” help him out. Answer the question and then tell him how much you like your job, what it was like compared to the last place you worked.

2. Change the question you ask yourself.

“Is this my soul mate?” That’s the million dollar question. It’s such a consuming question that you might be asking it over and over again while you’re still on the date. And we all want to know the answer asap. If you’ve been dating for a while, you probably think you’ve gotten good at figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t. What’s more, you’re probably right! Making a snap judgment may have become second nature to you. You want to be efficient in your dating for marriage process; you don’t have time to waste.

Yes, be efficient. However, really being efficient means that you are dedicating a minimum of one full date to investigating whether or not this person is your soul mate. There’s nothing wrong with asking “Is this my soul mate?” -- but not until after the date. That means on the date, the only question I want you to repeat over and over again is, “Am I present in the moment?”

Ask yourself if you are really hearing and seeing who is in front of you (even if you don’t want to marry him or her!). Ask yourself if you are being yourself. Make sure you stay in the moment of the date and out of your head. When you return home from the date you can ask yourself if this was the one. Even if you already know the answer is “no,” practicing this marriage-minded approach to dating will help you on your next first date.

3. Change the way you describe yourself.

“So, tell me a little bit about yourself.” People often ask this on a first date when they don’t have a more specific question. Trying to answer such a blanket question often leaves people speechless. Oy! Where do you even begin?

You begin with the end in mind. What is your goal? Your goal is to identify whether or not this is your soul mate. So share how are you unique, what makes you you. What are you going to say that will quickly and clearly differentiate you from others and express who you are? It’s a good idea to give this some thought before your next date. By first understanding yourself and your unique qualities and combinations you will be better able to articulate who you are to another.

Remember, don’t try to be what he or she is looking for. You simply want express clearly who you are. You may be surprised at how much someone will love exactly that person.

Changing your first date experience isn’t easy. Putting your best self forward can be especially challenging after years of dating. But these simple changes can make a big difference. Pick one thing you want to change on your next first date. And let me know how it goes. You may or may not find your soul mate on the next date, but you will find more of yourself which will ultimately lead to your soul mate. May your journey from here on be short, sweet and filled with support from the network of people who love you!