Learning the Language of DatingSpeak
Have you ever had the unpleasant experience of needing to tell someone that you have dated one or more times that your feelings are just not there, not in that way? If so, how did you express this? Were you direct and open or evasive as you offered lame excuses and comments like, "It's not you, it's work." Did you leave that other person up in the air, wondering how they could be supportive or understanding as they put their dating life on hold until you were ready?
Or perhaps you have been on the other end. You met this guy online and clicked from that first glance. After emailing for weeks and countless phone conversations over a brief period of time- you made plans to meet. You were psyched that finally you had found just what you were looking for- and he felt the same. You met in a nice restaurant, shared good conversation and seemed to have a nice evening. At the close of the date he said things would be hectic for a few weeks, but he would give you a call. Three weeks have passed and you haven't even received a response to your email, thanking him for the nice dinner. What happened?
The language of dating or "datingspeak", can be filled with mixed messages, empty words, and flowery promises that are never kept. It can take you to cloud nine one minute, and leave you in the emotional pits the next. In order to understand it, you must learn to listen with a third ear, as you read the non-verbal cues that will help you interpret it correctly. In order to become proficient in using it, you must learn to weigh your words carefully and find gentle but clear ways to express your feelings, desires and intentions.
The following tips will help you communicate your way to relationship success:
Think through what you want to say before you say it. It is much better to hesitate and express your difficulty honestly. This will help to send a sincere and congruent message to the other person. It will also help to ensure that you don't blurt out something that gives false hope or is needlessly hurtful.
Have a script ready for first dates. It is helpful to anticipate beforehand the different reaction and emotions that may come up. You can then think through what you will say if you don't feel the right connection with this person and therefore, will not want to see them again. Be clear, but gentle- and do not offer a contradictory mixed message for them to chew on for days afterwards.
Never say something that is not true due to a fear of hurting the other person's feelings. It is far more hurtful to tell an untruth which offers false hopes and leaves the other person up in the air and on hold- waiting for your next move.
Pay attention to his/her eyes, facial expressions and posture as they talk. If they are saying one thing but doing another- something is not right. If you focus more on the non-verbal messages you are getting- you will have a much better chance of "hearing" the truth.
If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. NEVER ignore your instincts. Check it by asking questions and pushing for more clarification.
If someone says they had a nice time and will call you after things settle down, but don't--it's a good bet they never will. When someone is truly interested, they will find a way to call, email, etc. There is always time for the things we care about.
If you are dating someone and they suddenly "disappear" for a while, then resurface with no explanation other than a rendition of their busy life and countless demands on their time and energy- beware. Again, no matter how busy someone is, when they really care- they make you a priority.
The next time you have the urge to write me with a question about what your date said or what your boyfriend/girlfriend really means when they say___, try applying these tips first. If you still can't sort it out, let me know and we'll figure it out together.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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