Knowing the signs

mars_venus

One of the things that stands in the way of dating success is not knowing the signs.

No doubt there are whole books devoted to this. But the important thing is to start to become aware of the signs that a woman is attracted to you (or not). If you don’t spot them then you may try too hard with women who aren’t interested and miss opportunities with women who are.

The first error that many of us men fall into is to start looking for signs when we are already attracted to a woman. The problem with this is that we are prone to see what we wish to see rather than what is really there. This is very well illustrated in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night,’ when Malvolio is led to believe that Olivia is in love with him. He interprets everything she says and every glance as confirming what he wishes to believe, leading him in the end to a most unpleasant rude awakening. Try not to be in imagination.

Practice understanding signs when nothing much hangs on it.

I have to admit that I became much better at understanding signs after I was happily married, when the use of knowing the signs is to be able tactfully to deflect unwanted attentions!

Eye contact is very powerful. If a woman holds your gaze then be careful not to hold hers unless you want her to think you’re attracted to her. Be careful, because holding someone’s gaze can also be perceived as a threat. Try to tune into what is actually happening. This cannot be taught by formula.

Smiling can be deceiving. A woman might smile at you because she’s attracted to you. Equally she might smile just to be friendly, or even out of nervousness. Smiles can be used for attraction or defence. Again, observation from a neutral place rather than one of desire is useful training. Try to watch the interactions of others and see where they go wrong and what they get right.

Touching: if a woman while talking to you touches your arm, this is far less ambiguous – it probably means she’s attracted to you. If this happens and you are attracted to the woman you are doing well. But you can still easily mess up at this stage. Play it cool. If you’re interested, continue the conversation and maybe arrange a date – but don’t be too eager.

In general, watch body language as if you were a scientist. Any tips you get from books, don’t take as absolute – watch and learn.

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How not to be a creep

Here’s one young woman’s guide to not being a creep.

It boils down to this: (1) don’t be in imagination; (2) do things in the right order.

Don’t make a lunge when you’ve had no signals whatever that it is the right time to do this. Be aware of signals that are actually coming from her. And not signals you’ve merely convinced yourself are coming from her.

The more we are thinking about what we want, the more detached from reality we become. We have a hope in our heads, “she likes me/ she wants me to kiss her,” and then we look for signs that fit with what we want to believe (I referred previously to the classic portrayal of this in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night). We become victims of imagination.

The antidote to this is always to be considerate and to concern yourself with what she wants. That doesn’t mean being a wimp but it does entail keeping a clear head.

Combatting our own imagination is very difficult. When in doubt, don’t make the pass. Wait for her to make it obvious that she wants you to. You still have to be the one to lead, in most cases, because that’s what men do and that’s what most women want you to do. But make haste slowly. In any case, anticipation works in your favour.

Practical example: if you think she wants physical contact, start by touching her forearm or wrist very lightly (but not so quickly that it looks like an accident). Make eye-contact. See how she reacts. Then withdraw. This builds anticipation if she is ready, and does no harm if she isn’t.

If she sits so close to you that the side of her bottom is firmly pressed against yours it is probably safe to give her waist a little squeeze. Done correctly, this simply comes across as an affectionate gesture rather than a pass, so if more is not wanted (and you’ll know by whether she relaxes towards you or pulls away a little) no embarrassment is caused to either party. If this is received without recoil it is a sign that you can leave your arm round her waist for longer.

Key points: Do lead, but at the same time she must feel in control. Do not rush. Be sensitive to signals, not what you want to believe but what is. Do it in small stages: anticipation works in your favour. It is better to quit while you are ahead than to push it too far.

Rush-hour crush 2

Another one from Friday’s morning paper:

To the girl with sort white hair and pink streaks reading her Kindle on the westbound Piccadilly line: you are the prettiest girl I’ve seen in a long time. Our eyes met, we both smiled but I regret not saying hello. Any chance I could buy you a drink? – Guy wearing yellow polo shirt

Ok, what did he do right, what should he have done and what should he do now?

First of all, let’s emphasise what he did right, because this is important and it gives him a head start.

Think about it a moment. What gives this guy a chance?

He made eye-contact.

Now of course if you stare at anyone on the tube or in a bus, something tells them they are being watched and eventually they will look up to see what’s going on. This is very a very basic instinctive reaction and it has to do with survival. The other person will eventually look at you and therefore eye-contact will inevitably occur.

If you continue to stare this may be taken as creepy and threatening. This is not what I am advising at all. So what did he do next that made it ok?

Easy isn’t it? He smiled.

How did he know that she didn’t feel freaked?

She smiled as well.

Now as always, caution. Smiling can be defensive. It is not possible in a blog entry to analyse at length different kinds of smile. You have to have a certain amount of emotional sensitivity, and I can’t give you that if you don’t have it (although most of us do have it if we are not blinded by desire, frustration and self-deception – a topic for another time perhaps – for now let’s just point to Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night for those who know the play).

People also smile because we are hard-wired to copy what others do (we have so-called ‘mirror neurones’ that help us do this). She doesn’t necessarily fancy him just because she smiled. BUT…

But he’s in with a chance.

What he should have done of course was what he now regrets not having done. He should have gone up to her and said ‘hello.’ If she wasn’t interested after all would the sky have fallen in? No, of course not. She’d have made an excuse, smiled again and left. No problem. There are other women and there will be other times.

What he should do now is obvious isn’t it? Assuming he’s lucky enough to be on the same carriage of the same tube train as her again.

‘Fuck buddies’

I like to see what bloggers who read this site get up to.

I already made a discreet link to Snarkysnatch in my post on the most sensitive part of the vagina. She writes extensively on the physical side of sex to the almost complete and deliberate exclusion of any emotional intimacy. People who do this are looking for what they call a ‘fuck buddy.’

Snarkysnatch lays out the rules (page not safe for work) which are, in brief: no social contact – meet up only for sex; make it clear to each other that the relationship (such as it is) is only about sex and nothing else; always use a condom; separate after not more than 90 days.

I have a number of misgivings about this, which I’ll share in a moment. But it can be helpful sometimes to look at things without all our usual assumptions. The reason for examining things in this way is that we shall come out of it either with the ability to do things differently or with a deeper understanding of why we should continue as we are.

For myself, I am and always have been a romantic, in search of real love. My ideal (which is achievable – more on this another time) always was to find a soulmate, someone I could share with on every level: intellectual, emotional, spiritual and sexual. But not everyone is made this way. And even for those who are, the sexual makes its demands on us whether we will or no and whether we have a relationship in which the other aspects work or not.

For those of us in a time of sexual famine, the ‘fuck buddy’ option might suggest itself as a possible alternative to lonely masturbation or paying for sex. The rules at least are intended to minimise damage.

If there is no clarity then the age-old story frequently unfolds: man woos woman, he is driven largely by sex, he seems to promise or does promise both excitement and emotional warmth, she falls in love with him, he leaves her and she is heartbroken – with or without resulting children to look after. Men were deceivers ever, as Shakespeare put it.

Another story that can arise from the confusion: man marries woman he cannot really love, or who cannot really love him. No fault on either side – they just picked the wrong partner. Sex can be part of the mixture of desires that leads us to make wrong choices.

The ‘fuck buddy’ idea promises a certain amount of clarity – sex without deception and without permanent attachment to the wrong person. It sounds clinical, but so many people play the ordinary dating game with unclear rules – one wants sex more than love, the other uses sex as a way to get love – and from this lack of clarity all kinds of unnecessary pain result.

Personally I doubt whether the ‘fuck buddy’ idea can be turned into a satisfying way of life. We are mortal, our time is limited and we need more than just sex. It is clear that even our outspoken blogger Snarkysnatch falls in love (unusually this one is safe for work, at least at the time of writing) and has emotional needs. Emotional needs do get tangled up with sex. For those who practice sex in the ‘fuck buddy’ way, it is perhaps a temporary, and in its own way honest solution to the demands our sexual nature makes on us. For myself, I could never do it, because for me sex and love are too closely linked.

What I would suggest is this: whatever choices we make in our sexual and love lives, honesty and clarity are paramount: clarity, so that we don’t fool ourselves, and honesty so that we don’t hurt anyone else.

The ecstasy

Sex gets separated from the rest of our lives. Its energy threatens us, so we separate it off, compartmentalise it, try to make it safe, Binding with briars my joys and desires as William Blake put it in The Garden of love.

This is a problem for us whether or not we are in a sexual relationship.

It is a problem for us if we try to cut our imaginary identity off from our sexuality.

This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine, as Shakespeare put it in The Tempest.

In John Donne’s poem The ecstasy are the lines,

Love’s mysteries in souls do grow, 
But yet the body is his book.