Trick Or Treat - Is This Make-Believe Or The Real Thing?
"I'll call you this week". "Yes, I'd love to see you again". "I
had a great time". "I'm not interested in dating anyone else".
"I think I'm falling in love with you."
These are a few of the phrases passed between singles as they
move through the stages of meeting and dating. At the time, they
are uttered with what feels like true emotion and honesty. No
wonder the person they are directed to is so confused when the
call never comes, the person becomes unavailable, or it soon
becomes evident that the speaker is dating or deeply involved
with someone else. Can we ever believe what we see or hear? How
can we be sure?
Dating is a process of getting to know someone. It begins with
an attraction, which is formed by that first impression. Often,
this first meeting occurs by chance at a social gathering, at
work or in the course of one's daily life. More and more, it
happens through a response to a personal ad and the emailing and
phone calls that follow. Both in-person and email or voice
contact give us a sense of the other individual- but this is
only a brief snapshot of who they may be. It takes real time
together to create a larger and clearer picture of this other
person and their rightness or wrongness for us. During this time
we assess for friendship, attraction, shared interests and
values, and a willingness and ability on the part of both
individuals to move forward in a relationship.
Given that this is a process, it has stages. A first date helps
the couple to learn more. It is a fact-finding experience, which
involves not only the information the other provides, but our
feelings and reactions to it and to them as a potential partner.
We show our best selves and attempt to make an appropriate
connection with someone we find desirable. In the best scenario,
everything clicks for both people and conversation is natural
and easy. More often, there may be questions, doubts, and/or
mixed feelings. Seeing each other again is often suggested by
one or both people and is a good way to learn more about each
other and resolve any questions. But the doubts and negative
feelings go unstated in a desire to either give the other person
a chance or to let them down easily. It's also an easy way out
for someone who is uncomfortable with this level of emotional
So, how do we know what the other person is truly feeling? You
have several options for getting this information.
* You take them at their word and wait to see if they follow
through with what they have said they would do. Nothing speaks
louder than behavior. This option is the most common choice and
can leave you in that all too familiar holding and wondering
* You attempt to address the situation openly and candidly. This
one requires a bit of courage and an ability to be vulnerable.
State how you are feeling in a thoughtful but honest way. Ask
them to do the same for you. Let them know that you want to hear
their honest thoughts about how the date went and if they would
like to get together again.
* The third option should be used regardless of what you do with
the other two. Pay attention to their non-verbal communication.
How do they look at you? What quiet responses do you get after
you have shared something about yourself? What do you see in
their facial reaction, posture and eyes? Do you FEEL interest or
just politeness? Are they really WITH you, or somewhere else? If
you learn to listen to the non-verbal language, you will HEAR
much more than what their words have to say.
Listening to the whole person applies throughout the stages of
dating and relationships. It is also important during this time
to pay attention to their behavior and note inconsistencies or
mixed messages. Too often people don't and are stunned when a
relationship "suddenly" ends or they find out they are seeing
someone who was not the person they thought they were. Trust
your instincts and listen "with a third ear".
Remember also that the responsibility for honesty is also on
you. Don't say what you think the other person wants to hear
because you don't want to be impolite or hurt their feelings. If
you really think about it, it is more hurtful and in poor taste
to be dishonest with someone who has a true interest and is
trying to learn yours.