In Part 1, I made the case for treating universal attraction like unicorns; neither one exists.
Now, let’s explore some things that can tilt the odds in your favor.
Getting in shape and fashion tips from someone with better sartorial sense than I should go without saying.
This raises an important point:
You need people around you with both the situational knowledge and willingness to tell you the truth on all matters of importance. Too many friends and family do a disservice to their loved ones by pulling punches.
Yes, I know criticism can sting both its source and intended target; learn to embrace the fire.
The truest form of companionship is marked by a willingness to hurt your feelings en route to pushing you in the right direction.
Know Your Limitations
Yeah, you’ve got a 50-point list describing John Q. Right. It’s good to have goals (however unrealistic).
But have you ever stopped to consider the other side of the coin? What might this Mr. Right be looking for? What kind of woman would he want? How might she look or carry herself?
Are you really bringing all of this to the table?
If you’re not thinking about what other people want, you’re in for a world of frustration.
Don’t Just Think Like a Man—Act Like One
(This one is aimed at men, but we can all get something from it.)
You’ve met someone new and exchanged contact information. You want to make that first, successful initial contact in the courtship process.
Should you text or (cringe) send a Facebook message?
No. Pick up the phone and call.
Texts are near effortless and remain our current default mode of communication, but that doesn’t make them the right tool for every situation.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,
Our words and the manner in which we present them can be powerful allies. Unless you live in different countries (and even then, we have video and internet communication technology), face-to-face contact or phone calls should be the standard for any milestones.
Certain social cues that enhance interpersonal bonding are lost in text-only exchanges. The more social distance between a pair of people, the more difficult it is to establish common ground.
Face-to-face interactions and phone calls really are the most compassionate form of communication.
Don’t be a coward. Let someone else hide behind the ‘everybody sends text messages’ excuse. It will set you apart from the crowd and everyone respects the courage it takes to push through those first few uncomfortable interactions.
Part of the reason people opt for text messages is they don’t know how to handle those early, awkward conversations.
What should you say during your first phone call?
The primary goal of the first call should be establishing rapport and setting up a time to meet in person. It shouldn’t be a five-hour ordeal.
Put some thought into it before you dial the number. Write some questions and comments down to refer to while you make the call. A mental dress rehearsal will calm your nerves and help you push through uncomfortable silences.
Skip the “What’s your favorite ice cream?” and “What’s your favorite color?” questions and try these:
“Tell me about one of your good friends. How’d you meet?”
“How would you compare yourself now to the version of you from five years ago (or in college)?”
“What kind of questions would I ask you if I really wanted to get to know you?”
These sort of rapport-building questions demonstrate a real interest in the person you’re conversing with and provide a pleasant departure from the standard ‘getting-to-know-you’ interrogation.
(Need more conversation carriers? Contact me.)
The Value of Commitment
There are ways to impact human behavior, encouraging certain choices over others. Introducing a sense of commitment offers some value here.
Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon: Agreeing to small requests raises the odds of committing to subsequent larger ones.
Positive early interactions beget future success. This is why good planning is important (in all things, really).
Thinking ahead defuses many of the self-imposed obstacles in our way. You cannot guarantee the progression of a relationship, but you can encourage an environment that keeps it moving forward.
Play to your strengths early in relationships. If you hate sports and don’t know the difference between a three-point shot and three-point stance, don’t choose a football game for a first date because you think the other person might be into it.
Unless you want people to make fun of you.
Get that face time in, but do it in a medium where you shine. The more you’re in their life, the more likely you are to stay there.
A Word on Expertise
There are three steps to becoming an expert in any field:
1) Wade through the sea of minutiae to discover the few, fundamental principles driving the industry. This is accomplished by asking the right questions and accumulating
enough experience and education to understand why certain conventions are in place.
Ex: Recall how overwhelmed you were when you first learned to drive. “Mirror goes here, remember to signal when doing this” etc.
Eventually, you learned safe driving could be reduced to just about putting yourself in the heads of other people on the road.
2) Familiarity and mastery of specifics within relevant sub-domains of a field.
3) Learning what we don’t yet know (but could learn, with enough effort) and what can never be known with any certainty.
Hence the phrase “the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know” and how Albert Einstein could utter it without a hint of false modesty.
This is also the point where practitioners start making real advances in the field.
Why is this discussion of expertise relevant to our conversation on romance?
When we start looking for big, underlying principles we get a sense of how to make our own luck.
A good segue for the final point….
Your Life is not a Fairy Tale (that’s a good thing)
Perception is reality. Our world view colors everything we see and hear.
I wouldn’t put much stock in the “you’ve only got one soul mate” line of thinking. It’s a romanticized, unrealistic view, setting up our lives as a fairy tale where we magically find the people we were meant be with. It encourages a fear-based response pattern, characterized by settling for the wrong people and rushing to get married before we’ve even learned enough about ourselves, let alone what sort of partner might make us happy.
Most of these are ploys to avoid the angst that comes with dating; enticing, yet unsatisfactory shortcuts instead of reasoned planning.
We’re compatible with a number of archetypes, a fact that should put you at ease. In that sense, finding love is less like finding the single missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle than obtaining a monopoly in Monopoly; more than one piece is suitable.
The key is understanding what we can control and what needs to be relegated to the “C’est La Vie” Pile.
Again, you can’t trick, goad, or pay anyone to fall—or stay—in love with you.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be in the driver’s seat.
(I could go on forever about this topic, but this article is long enough. If you’ve got any questions or comments, I’m all ears.)