Acting tips to improve your dating performance

The techniques and strategies I use as an actress — from battling audition nerves, to finding chemistry and keeping performances fresh — have made a huge impact on my personal life. In this special series, I’m sharing how many of the vital lessons I’ve learned as an actress have helped me navigate the dating world.

Woman on stage

What’s the breakdown?

It’s pilot season and, for actors, it’s the busiest time of year as we hustle to auditions for new television shows. The process begins with what’s called a breakdown, a summary of character descriptions written by casting for each character in the show. They’re chock-full of illustrative phrases like, “smokin’ hot” or “dependable and competent” or “rugged and sarcastic.”

When preparing for an audition, I sift through breakdowns to mine every piece of information I can. I take in phrases like, “focused on her career” and think to myself, “What kind of choices will I make to portray a woman like this? If she’s focused on her career, then what?” and, after analyzing breakdowns, I’ve come to realize that I’m familiar with distilling people down this way. “From where?” you ask. My answer: online dating!

Character descriptions and online dating

On online dating websites, people compose their own character breakdowns for members to browse. We read online dating profiles to piece together a sense of each person based on their hobbies, religious beliefs, income, educational background, neighborhood and other factors. Even if you don’t have an online dating profile, I assume that you’re familiar with the phrase “good on paper” which refers to compatibility in terms of lifestyle descriptors that complement one another. Same principle applies: Common interests indicate a greater chance of compatibility. Right?

Last year, I went on a few dates with someone I met online whose breakdown got me really excited. He seemed like my style (I outline my ridiculously specific type often on my YouTube show, “Dirty Talk Dating“) — a challenging, critical thinker with similar taste in indie music and a flexitarian diet. On our first date, we discovered that we had a mutual friend, that his dad’s a doctor (like mine!) and we both love Woody Allen movies. In other words, he was good on paper.

However, the more we got to know one another, it became clear that he wasn’t for me. What his breakdown couldn’t illustrate was that we didn’t have the same sense of humor (he was so literal and it was tough to joke around with him) and we had a different concept of boundaries when it came to public displays of affection (put your paws away in public, dude!) So, that was that.

Lessons learned

I learned that there is territory that online dating profiles definitely DO NOT cover. Come to think of it, I’d really appreciate it if some questionnaires addressed things like “degrees of clingy-ness,” “control issues” and a simple “check here if you are going to be weird around my guy friends.”

All in all, I think online dating does give you a bit of a leg up on finding common ground, which may explain the recent data that shows that couples who meet online date only 18 months before they wed, rather than 42 months for those who meet offline. The breakdown’s a good start, but I’ve learned that there’s more to compatibility than finding out you’re both lactose intolerant.

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