The dating playbook suggests following the same steps to acquaint ourselves with someone new, no matter how we meet someone. Oftentimes the only difference lies in the speed with which we transition from strangers to…well, to something else.
First, the physical attraction, which we know takes seconds.
Second, we look for more subtle physical cues, like speech, hand movements, tics (if any), gait, eye contact and so on.
Thirdly we begin to observe behavioral traits such as social adaptability, listening skills, the ability to empathize, acceptance of flattery, ability to follow implied statements, reaction to irony; all the nuances of language, whether literal or otherwise.
This progression happens on first dates after discovery on a sex-matching site or after months of coy consideration at work. It’s the reason we want to make a good impression on a first date, because the cliché happens to be true: that first impression sticks. It matters not whether we’re looking for a hook-up or marriage, the pattern remains the same and resulting judgement takes only a few minutes.
As an automatic process, we’re unlikely to change it, so I guess it must work. But it is only a beginning.
The mess we create goes far beyond our own back yard. Take this article, for example. While the clarity of thought about, and acknowledgement of – how shall I put this? – the shortcomings of current youthful coupling practice are little short of brilliant, the fact of them remains frightening.
From the author’s description, real dating is merging with cyber-dating to create some hellish version of romantic relationships. Gone are the virtues of delayed gratification, anticipation, wonder, attention, mutuality and respect. Replacing them are the digital delights of personal pleasure, immediate gratification, easy attachment and dis-attachment and limited responsibility.
Figuring out how we found ourselves in this dead-ender version of life is relatively easy; extricating people might prove rather more tricky.
Hope springs eternal if you’re single because experience tells us that we never know who will turn up in our lives. Chance, luck, fortune, happenstance, kismet, fate – whatever you call it, finding a surprise is one of those knowable unknowns, made all the more fun by their randomness.
The one caveat to this idea is that to meet new people we have to be out in the world, because online encounters are not meetings: they’re something, but not of the same importance as breathing the same air.
When someone new arrives in our lives we instantly and involuntarily evaluate how they might fit in. Could they be a prospect? Am I attracted to them? Why? Are they attracted to me? Am I reading the signals correctly? Am I creating something here that doesn’t exist? How might this work in the future? Are they A one?
The uncertainty is the essence of the excitement, the discovery the fuel of pursuit.
If you feel unloved, unlovable or just plain unattractive, you might be right. Is it realistic to think you can be one half of a terrific couple without any changes to your behavior, outlook or habits? We’ll see.
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