Thursday, July 07, 2005

C'mon...just say it.

I've been at casting workshops where agents tell us that they pretty much know in 15 seconds, from the moment that person enters the room, whether or not a person's "got it."

My take-away: if I don't have "it" in 15 seconds, I don't have "it" period. And there's really not a whole lot I can do about it at the 16-second mark. 16 seconds. Up. Time's up. Next, please.

Let us now leave the realm of "casting directors" and travel to the world of dating.

How many of us think we know all that there is to know about a person in 15 seconds? Oh heck, let's be generous and stretch it to a full 2 minutes. How many of us really believe that if "it" isn't there in 2 minutes, it never will be? If in 2 minutes, I feel no physical chemistry, he hasn't made me laugh, he hasn't said something extraordinary, please. It would never work out. Be honest!! Have you done this? Are you still?

Hm? Ever?

Here's my next question: does anyone else see a really big problem with leaving such a big decision to the discretion of a mortal, finite brain's ability to accurately assess all the variables (which btw hold eternal consequences) in 120 seconds?

What do we do about this? Bruce C. Hafen says that the best marriages come from good solid friendships. How do I juxtapose this with the 2-minute dilemma? And if Bruce C. Hafen is correct (which I believe he is) then how am I ever to know if I'm giving up after 2 minutes on something that could transform over time into exactly what I didn't know I could have with this person?

You know what this is really about? It's about fear of emotional intimacy. If we don't feel something extraordinary in two minutes, it's too risky to pursue something that may take longer to discover. Because what if it never happens? We want the bolt of lightning, or we don't make a move. We want the return without the investment.

I think my thoughts are too hard to follow. Someone else can probably put it better than I.
I think you are exactly right. It is about instant gratification or none at all. It's about not wanting to waste your "valuable" time on someone that isn't a sure thing. But... "How can you know what you want till you get what you want and you see if you like it". I think there is too much pressure. I think we feel like we have deadlines and we don't. Your life will be what it is supposed to be. Just slow down.
I wouldn’t necessarily discount instant connection that some people have. I’ve been married twice (my first wife passed away four years ago and I remarried a year later). With both my wives I knew within the first 30 seconds that I had some sort of connection to them and that they were people that I wanted to know better.

That being said, both of them did not have the same type of instant connection to me. It took a lot of dating before they both decided I was worth getting more serious with.

I think a lot of the instant connection (with guys anyway) had to do with physical/sexual attractiveness of the girl. Too often girls discount what a powerful motivation that is for guys. Personally if I didn’t find a girl attractive, I’d have a hard time wanting know her better. A sweet spirit and great personality is nice, but it can’t take the place of wanting to see them naked.

Friendship is important and I wouldn’t recommend marrying anyone without getting to know their potential spouse very well but there’s more to finding a spouse then just having someone you can get along with. Being attracted to that person both physically, sexually, and emotionally goes a long way in keeping things a float when times get tough.
I think a lot of times (especially in single, LDS land) that aspect of it gets overlooked quite a bit where for some reason we’re told to concentrate on what’s inside instead of what is outside. They are both equally important.

Don’t discount the instant connection some people have to another. The instant connection can pave the way to something truly wonderful.
I quite agree. In fact, I posted this because I am victim to relying too much on instant connection. I don't mean to throw the entire notion out the window, but the fact that both your wives were willing to date you w/o that "instant spark" is what I'm interested in cultivating in myself. I also feel that some men may want to do the same.

Thanks for your thoughts.
hi mary, anonymous here from the other board. As to your question about 15 seconds (or two minutes), i would say (somewhat sadly) that this is indeed how it is, at least for us guys. we can tell pretty much right away if we are attracted to a woman. frankly, very little she does or says will change that. This is the way it is, not the way we wish it was. Who we are attracted to is not entirely under our control. And (reference my previous posts) the basis of attraction is different for men and women. listen to the words of this wise man abel, for he speaks the truth. He felt an instant attraction (based largely on physical appearance cause he is a man), but his wives did not necessarily. Men and women would really benefit from a better understanding of the basis of each sex's attraction to the other.

You correctly point out that two minutes is not enough time to judge a person properly, to really get to know them or what makes them tick. the question is, will pursuing it and getting to know someone create an attraction to them that was not there at first? I think for men, the answer is often no. for women, it's more of a possibility. you may end up being very good friends, and that in itself is a great end.

But as abel pointed out, the marriage relationship is sexual. it's important to be great friends. but it's also important to be more than friends. you need that spark, that sexual attraction that will help sustain you when times are tough. romantic love is a powerful emotion. wars have been fought over it, crimes committed, relationships made and destroyed. A marriage built solely on a good friendship without a proper sexual component is a walking time bomb, no matter how good it sounds in conference. it will often succumb to the temptation of infidelity.

I will end with a story. Once there was a girl, and she liked me quite a bit. I was not really all that attracted to her, but we had a lot of common interests and we spent a lot of time together. in the second year of our friendship, we were spending a lot of time together, and for some reason one night we kissed. it was nice, it felt like the right thing to do. when i got home i immediately started regretting it. i guess after this point we started dating, though i always had trouble thinking of her as my girlfriend. i really enjoyed her company though, and we were great friends. one day she confessed to me that she had basically made out with a stranger for several hours, and that it was a passing folly. what did i feel? nothing. i didn't really care one way or the other. i was actually kind of glad because i thought i could get out of the relationship easily. however, my apparent magmanimous forgiveness made her decide i was even more of a keeper. well, things dragged along for another couple of months and eventually fell apart. i really wanted to feel about her differently than i did, but i couldn't. and i couldn't really control it or turn it off and on at will. basically, the proper physical attraction was never there. the friendship, the common interests and everything else was, but it wasn't enough. I dont really know what my point is. maybe that being dishonest with our emotions is usually disastrous. I've never been able to make myself feel something for someone (physically/sexually) that wasn't there pretty much right away. The thing is, i think that is pretty normal, at least for a guy.
All of this from the guys' perspective is interesting. I've heard it before--that girls take time to build their lasting feelings, but that if a guy doesn't feel it immediately, he won't ever feel it. Yet it makes me pretty sad, because that kind of connection from a guy's side--just to even ask me out--has only happened perhaps once in my life, maybe twice. So it makes me wonder how that works.

On the subject of fear of emotional intimacy, I know that the older I get, the more I crave emotional intimacy precisely because it's been something I have been without for so many years. But also, the older I get, the less I remember how to have it, and the more frustrated I get when someone I'd like to be close to doesn't want to be close to me. I don't think it has anything to do with instant gratification, I think it has to do with being out of practice and being wounded too many times. Sometimes it hurts too much to allow yourself to even feel anything at all.
Fantastic comments!

Anonymous from other board:

your story sounds familiar. Not to me personally, but I have friends who have been utterly confused about why in the world a guy would kiss them or date them if he wasn't attracted to her. And yet, to hear your side of it helps me begin to understand just how different men are from women. As sad as it is for me to hear you, I hear you. And I really appreciate the honesty.

A year after a bad breakup of mine, I started dating a guy I knew I would never fall in love with. It was safer, and I wanted to see if I could actually build a life with someone that wouldn't steal my heart away and risk that kind of hurt again. Needless to say, it didn't work. I remember being with him at times and thinking "what the heck am I doing?" But it felt good to not be alone, and he was nice to me. So...I guess I'm saying that I sort of get the notion of being with someone even though it's not "sparkly."

Anonymous #2

I cannot believe how comforted I was to hear your honesty. It's true for me too, the older I get the less I'm willing to hang anything out there. I don't think this is right, however. This is what I need to fight against. I have to forget about my age, forget about my past wounds. Hanging on to them isn't bringing me any comfort, and it may be the primary reason why love hasn't come down the pike in a while. I don't have the faintest idea how, but I've got to let it go and prepare to risk it all again. When there's no risk, there's no relationship. And I hate the idea of letting fear lick me. Taking a risk doesn't feel safe at all, but not to try stamps out any chance at all for a real connection.

This stuff can be so hard. Satan has so many of us in this vice. Because it's working. I just can't let him win.
Why did i kiss someone if i wasn't attracted to them? hey, everyone gets lonely. it had been 4 years (2 were mission though) and it just sort of happened. but it taught me that i dont really want to get involved romantically with someone i am not attracted to.
Anyway, lest you think i do this sort of thing all the time, i have usually been on the other end of the relationship asymmetry, which is infinitely more painful.
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