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The first date

Do I stand a chance?

The first date has gone well, but as you say goodbye you are on tenterhooks, waiting for those vital words from the other person: “It would be good to meet up again”. But there’s more to it than words – there are other signals that can tell you whether it’s time for a diplomatic retreat or a brave move.

Do I stand a chance?

“She loves me, she loves me not …”

Harry , a 44-year-old engineer, has now had a number of dates with women he has met online. But he still feels unsure about certain aspects of the process. “How can I tell if a woman is genuinely interested in me?” he asks. On some of the dates, everything went well, but fizzled out into inconclusive silence at the end. Harry is not alone in experiencing this. You might not be looking for a “Your place or mine?” finale, but you would like to fix a second date. Not everyone has quite enough courage to say exactly what they want at the end of a date, but we all transmit non-verbal signals. And if you watch carefully, you will be able to recognise these too.

In the beginning was the word

In the animal world, it’s often the sense of smell that leads to finding a mate, but human beings are a little more complicated. If we find the other person attractive, we first of all check out the terrain. Voice and conversation are used to strike up an acquaintance, but certain other forms of behaviour can reveal just how interested someone is in you. Is he or she really listening to you and letting you have your say, while maybe asking the occasional question? Has he or she picked up on little details from your Parship profile or emails … and made an effort to keep the conversation going? If so, it’s all looking good. And you have the first signs that the other person is quite taken with you.

A picture paints a thousand words

You’ve talked and talked and talked. After some discussion of your favourite food you got onto the subject of your hobbies; you established some points in common and even finished with an exchange on what you want out of life. All good signs, but are you wondering whether your date just thinks you’re a nice person? After all, friends also have good conversations. But in the past you will have noticed that, if you really like someone, a two-hour description of a scientific experiment can be music to your ears. That’s because when two people have feelings for each other, they communicate on every level … The eyes express what another person if feeling for you. If the woman of your dreams is looking deep into your eyes while you are talking about something to do with your work, your mind will suddenly find itself elsewhere. Parship psychologist Sabine Limont emphasises that “To perceive and express interest, you must be able to maintain eye contact. Try training yourself before the date with the help of a friend.”

Two bodies in harmony

In New Guinea, future couples are tested with a dance on the principle that if their bodies move well together, then there is greater harmony between the two of them. There is logic behind this: there is a choreographic shape to getting to know each other. When the other person was talking about favourite food, he or she leaned back, side on to the table. The discussion about hobbies brought a pose with head and shoulders turned towards you, which shifted to facing you full on when the subject matter was things you have in common. When you spoke about the future, the conversation was punctuated with some unconscious fleeting movements. If the two of you felt the same about things, then you were also part of this choreography, with stance, the tempo of your speech, facial expression and gesture. If the other person reaches for his or her glass, so do you. If he or she taps the table in time with the background music, you tap your foot. This kind of harmony is in fact an unconscious dance of courtship and a good indicator of your feelings for each other.

Shy, unsure … or is it a rejection?

The evening is over and you run through the last few hours in your mind. It would be wonderful simply to suggest a second date and to get a delighted ‘yes’. But what if you aren’t sure about the signals? Of course, the way the two of you respond to a situation could vary substantially … The other person could be very shy, which is perhaps why your meaningful glances went unanswered. You would do well to give him or her some more time to open up on a second date. And if he or she happens to be unsure about his or her feelings for you, then this will be reflected in the signals, which would present so-called conflicting messages - inconsistent in nature. A second meeting could see him or her sitting back and telling you in detail about his or her problems at work. Sabine Limont suggests asking the other person how you should interpret his or her behaviour and to persist until you get a clear answer.

Give yourself some time

You also have to be prepared to face the possibility that maybe you just aren’t what the other person is looking for, in which case the signals would take the form of escape reflexes, lack of attentiveness and unresponsive body language. If you are unsure of the position and would like some clarity on it, then don’t be afraid to ask. But, as Sabine Limont explains: “The most important thing is to be clear on things yourself. If you are ambivalent, then you send ambivalent messages and the other person will have trouble interpreting them.” If he or she has interpreted your message wrongly, then the two-way communication become confused. You always have the option of suggesting a second date and seeing how things develop – it won’t commit you to anything.

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