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.
I blame the iPhone.
The iPhone is at the peak of the techno/design pyramid, which is an enormous pile of man-made goods that began accumulating with mass-produced buttons in the English midlands 250 years ago. Along the way we added shoes, guns, lights, Model-T Fords, washing machines and air-conditioners, and now the whole lot is capped with the smartphone. This is the history of the industrial revolution and consumerism.
And what, you might ask, does this have to do with dating? Fair question, Hortense, and the answer’s pretty simple: quality. The stuff we buy today is enormously durable, well-designed, thoughtfully manufactured and aesthetically pleasing. Everything from automobiles to bed-sheets are of a quality unimaginable even fifty years ago, which is the problem.
Perfection is the problem. Although we’re not there yet, we’re closing in on making universally flawless things, stuff that works right out of the box, machines that are intuitive, long-lasting and work with each other. Yes, there’s still a lot of junk around, but that’s because perfection costs, and folks will compromise quality if they don’t have enough dosh.
People, however, are just the same as we were 250 years ago. We are not user-friendly. We’re all quirky; none of us exactly fits the technical description; few of us are consistent throughout a day, let alone a lifetime, and even fewer come within hundreds of miles of perfection.
That’s the iPhone dilemma. When we use an iPhone we (reasonably) expect consistently high technical and emotional feedback. When we are with people, that expectation leaks into our thinking, with predictable results.
- A prior marriage or two. Or three.
- A minor child or two. Or three.
- A child of his or her majority still behaving as if they are fifteen.
- The parent of this big baby also behaving as if it is fifteen.
- Conspicuous…interest in booze, cigs, pills or the government handouts.
- Not-so-conspicuous money mis-management. A bankruptcy, perhaps.
- The presence of an ex- something for ill-defined reasons.
Baking success comes from choosing quality ingredients, treating them with care, allowing the appropriate time for proving, the correct oven setting and luck. Avoiding the problematic ingredients puts the odds of a measurably better rise and crumb on your side.
Much is made in the startup world about one’s elevator speech. That’s the 30 second recitation of why someone should either invest in you, your business or even buy the product or service you provide. It’s the entrepreneurs version of the politician’s stump speech, albeit shorter and with many fewer lies.
Mentors and experienced investors tell the business owner that this verbal summary is the way to richer people’s hearts and checkbooks; like it’s some kind of witchcrafty incantation that loosens wallets.
Dating mentors and coaches sometimes tell folks that they need an elevator speech for their dating ventures.
Interesting, the idea of a memorized sales pitch to sell ourselves to strangers.
On the warm and fuzzy side of getting to know someone is mutual likability. It’s the slowly advancing feeling that you’re gradually liking someone more and more, and that they feel the same.
Like walking up a gently sloping hill, discovering mutual likability might not strike you until you turn around to look at the view. The road isn’t effortless, but neither is it taxing enough to make you out of breath. Your emotion is, well, one of having nice big lungfuls of air and all those happy corpuscles moving sweetly around your bod. It’s a sense of being alive.
There is no telling where mutual likability will take you. On one hand it might lead you to something more relationshippy, or it might remain as a friendshippy kind of coupling. Part of the happiness surrounding this kind of mutuality is the thrill of possibility.
We need not go into the discord arising from one party deciding upon one path, and the other, the other. For now, let’s bask in the idea that knowing you like someone, and finding your thinking reciprocated, explains why we became social animals in the first place. It feels good.