The two pick at their dinner salads, staring down at the leafy mound before them. Finally, one of them tries to grease the wheels of conversation. The process begins by providing lots of space for the full expression of information and asking follow-up questions to further draw out the one talking. Think of conversation as a tennis match in which the players lob the ball back and forth. They ask personal or sensitive questions that put the other person on the defensive. If feeling inhibited is a problem for some people, others go to the opposite extreme: they use a date as an opportunity to purge and vent. When kids predate dating, the couple’s relationship inherently creates competing attachments.The choice to be with the dating partner or children generally means the other is left waiting … Even before dating, single parents begin a series of conversations with their children that ask, “What if I began dating? ” Periodically, they engage the conversation again and again: “What if Sara and I began dating regularly?You feel like you’ve become a total idiot because your mind has become totally blank. You can barely even remember your own name at this point, let alone an appropriate thing to talk about.
Biggest clue of all: The salad course is punctuated by strained silence and forced small talk. Great communication starts with being genuinely interested in the individual you’re with and paying close attention to what he/she says.
A man and woman face each other across a table at a downtown bistro, looking nervous and awkward. There is a stiff formality to the way they sit—no slouching. In reality, premature or exaggerated revelations are due more to boundary issues, unresolved pain, or self-centeredness than true intimacy. Maybe your first date questions will lead you to discover that this person is your soul mate—or maybe not.
All the observable and obvious clues: They are nicely groomed and wearing freshly pressed clothes—stylish, but not overdone. Should the relationship evolve, there will be plenty of time to get into weighty topics. When a person reveals too much too soon, it can give a false sense of intimacy.
The best communication occurs with an even and equal exchange between two people. Getting to know someone new is like peeling an onion one thin layer at the time. But some people, overeager to get into deep and meaningful conversation, go too far too fast.
This is torture.” She thinks, “Why doesn’t he ask me any questions? But the ability to speak is only one part of the equation—and not the most important part.