The courting ritual: Learn how to be smarter at meeting someone

Looking at the first dating roadblock. A follow on from the article and webinar of the same name (August Issue).

Go to the profile of Madeleine Mason
Aug 29, 2014
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This week we had a webinar on dating roadblocks following the article of same name (Psychologies August issue, p. 66-68), which despite a few sound problems went really well. Thank you to all who listened in. I thought I would share and recap some of what we covered.

We started with the observation that we are all different and our particular dating ‘situations’ won’t be solved with a one solution fits all. Our personalities, experiences, mind-sets, expectations, circumstances make up so many constellations of uniqueness it wouldn’t be possible to create a single dating solution. Two people in the same situation are likely to experience the same thing in very different ways. However, we pretty much all follow the same journey towards a committed relationship.

You meet someone. Go on a date. A second date. A few more dates. You start seeing each other. You decide to become a couple. Move in together perhaps get married. Typically. When it all goes well.

However it’s not all that easy and we find ourselves stuck along this way at any of the above ‘milestones’. During the webinar we did a mini poll and found that meeting someone and going on a date was the biggest problem for the listeners, followed by often meeting the wrong type of person. Some experienced problems with getting second dates and meeting people who wouldn’t commit. The least typical problem was things fizzling out after a few dates, but everyone experienced one of these roadblocks.

We turned to science and concentrated on the beginning. The courting ritual. What we do when we meet a prospective mate. Dr. Timothy Perper (Sex Signals: The Biology of Love, 1985) spent hundreds of hours observing couples get together in bars and clubs. Like all other animals, we humans follow a distinct pattern or ritual when ‘getting together’; if the sequence of this pattern for whatever reason gets broken or interfered with, the magic ends. The couple do not ‘get’ each other. Dr. Perper noticed that the main culprit for the interference was nervousness and insecurity. Sometimes a signal would be given out and misinterpreted. For example, if someone came up to you and said something and you failed to TURN your head, look at the person and acknowledge his or her verbal contribution, it would be regarded as a rejection, even if you really fancied that person. Similarly, if you are in conversation with a prospective date, the next stage in the courting ritual would be subtle touching. It may be a brush of the hand as you reach for the olives or a gentle pat of the arm as you share a joke together. However if the person who is touched inadvertently freezes at this, it would be interpreted as a rejection and the ritual pattern will end. The couple would most likely not proceed their courting path.

So if you are experiencing trouble meeting someone, consider the signals you are giving out and be mindful to follow the dating ritual steps:

- Be in talking distance of the person you like and smile, nod (or any non verbal signal that shows you like that person), either wait for that person to say something or say something yourself.

- If someone says something to you, TURN your head, LOOK at the person and say something back.

- If you like the conversation that follows, turn your body towards that person, so that your whole body is facing the other person.

- Find opportunities to give subtle touches to that person. Maybe pick an imaginary hair off the shoulder. Gaze into their eyes, smile a lot and slowly synchronize your moves.

- If things are going well, then start synchronizing your actions with the other person. For example, when the other person takes a sip of their drink, you do the same.

Note. Do not grope or stare your prospective date down, that would come across as a freaky! Be subtle, be kind. Be non-threatening and engaging. Think to yourself whether you are giving out signals that say “I am not going to reject you or be mean to you,; I would like you to talk to me”. More importantly, don’t play hard to get, it will backfire here.


It’s Friday today. Go out tonight and give it a go. Good luck!

Go to the profile of Madeleine Mason

Madeleine Mason

Dating Psychologist, PassionSmiths

Madeleine founded dating and relationship company PassionSmiths upon discovering that many people need a little help with their love lives. With an MSc and BSc in psychology, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)training and a background in the mental health profession specialising in quality of life, Madeleine offers personal coaching sessions as well as seminars and workshops . Having experience in marriage, divorce, dating and relationships, Madeleine is passionate about helping people to understand their own needs and getting successful results. She is a member of the British Psychological Society, the International Positive Psychology Association and the Dating Industry Professionals Network. She was shortlisted for Dating Expert of the Year 2014 at the UK Dating Awards, has worked with TimeOut and Daily Telegraph and continues to blog at LifeLabs.

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