How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Every day, around the world, countless numbers of people engage in hopeful conversations that are aimed at increasing the romantic attachment of an intended partners.
What is the purpose of romantic conversations? They happen often enough, but can have quite different end goals.
The basic romantic conversation is where one person loves another and is seeking to get the other person to love them in return. If this is successful, then the first person feels elated. This can also be a recurring theme in a longer-term relationship where the broader goal is to sustain the reciprocal love and so stay together over a longer time.
Beyond seeking the emotional highs of love, the ultimate aim of romance is to find a life partner with who you can start a family. Romantic conversation can hence steer towards marriage otherwise creating a sustained commitment.
While love and marriage are classic romantic goals, so also is the very simple goal of having sex with the other person. Romance, in fact, may be a cover for this very basic desire. It is not surprising that nature has made it a very pleasant experience and that we will seek it beyond many other experiences.
Romantic talk can also be a sham for many reasons, from just getting the other person to buy you a drink to perhaps darker and colder purpose. The basic transaction of this form is that I make you feel good by showing a romantic interest in you, and you do as I want in return.
A simple form of romantic conversation involves telling the other person how wonderful they are. This typically includes complimenting them on how they look. And when you are infatuated with them, even that hooked nose can seem just so endearing. Flattery can also praise them or offer other forms of ingratiation. The general principle is to make them feel good about themselves and grateful to you for achieving this.
A person who romantically accepts flattery may look a modestly embarrassed by the compliments but smiles nevertheless and probably offers gratitude for the kindness. The flatterer may also attempt other types of kindness, such as providing transport, buying drinks and so on. You cannot buy love, but making the other person feel good goes a long way to getting them in the mood.
You look great today. Come to that, you always look great.
You're a good person, you know. I'm just so impressed at how you go out of your way to be kind to other people.
When you have feelings for another person, suddenly everything about them seems remarkably fascinating. This is a natural principle if you are considering a longer-term relationship as you need to know what they are really like. The problem of course with romance is that when we are smitten we tend to ignore the weaker side of the other person's character.
As with flattery, showing an interest in them makes them feel good, worthy and important. And hopefully they reciprocate with interest in you, of course. Interest can be more sincere than flattery and is easier to sustain by asking questions. It also require good listening skills, including close attention and genuine concern. Effective interest quickly builds rapport, which can then lead to more emotional affection.
Interest can be off-putting if the other person is not really interested in you, particularly if you probe into areas they consider private. However, as intimacy increases, more private detail may be revealed.
So, do tell me about your holidays.
That's fascinating. You mean you worked as a taxi-driver just to get through college. You must have got really tired.
One of the good characteristics of a romantic relationship is that it is fun. Romantic conversation can not only be about entertainment ('what shall we do'), it can also be entertainment. Men in particular tend to provide the fun, such as telling jokes and clowning around. Women laugh more, showing that they appreciate the man's attempt to entertain.
This relaxed aspect of being together shows that each can be themselves and can drop the guard that keeps many of us serious when we are in company with others. It shows that we trust the other person not to offend and not to take advantage of us.
Would you like to come out to the night club we me tonight?
I heard that a man stole ten bars of soap from this store. He made a clean getaway!
The reverse of flattery, where the other person is praised, is self-promotion, where you show yourself to be worthwhile. This can include showing ability ('I did this'), indicating wealth ('I'll pick you up in my Ferrari'), showing social status ('Come to my party, everyone will be there') and otherwise making yourself seem more attractive.
Of course there is a danger with this that they may see you as prideful and conceited, so it has to be done subtly, care and a certain modesty. A neat way of self-promotion is to have other people praise you. This gets around cynicism and contempt, lets your potential partner know that you are valued by the community and that going out with you is not social suicide.
I've just been promoted again. Luck and hard work, I guess.
Jane said you won the photography competition. That's great. I really like photography too.
At some time, romantic conversation leads to the next stage, and the next... This can be a long game and nudging the other person rather than demanding they do things can be more effect. This need for care in deepening the relationship without frightening the other person away makes suggestion a common style. Initial suggestions tend to be very small ('Shall we go over there?') and later escalate ('Come on, I'll give you a lift home').
Suggestions are often given as questions and frame what are effectively commands with requests, such as 'How about', 'Why don't we', 'Let's' and so on. They give the other person the ability to refuse without embarrassment and without damaging the relationship. They also indicate the readiness of the proposer to increase commitment, so even if they are refused now, they other person knows they can take up the idea at a later date.
How about another drink?
I'd love to see you in that red dress.
As the relationship deepens and trust increases, couples tell more to one another. This leads to a closer relationship as vulnerabilities are exposed. It also allows each person to assess the other in terms of a longer-term relationship.
Common subjects include one's history, including childhood and family life, hoidays, and so on. You can reveal worries and traumas too, but be very careful with this as it can make the other person worry they are connecting with a high-maintenance partner. On the other hand, revealing issues can trigger the caring side of the other person and so help the relationship forward. A way of doing this is (initially at least) to reveal smaller things that are not too traumatic. Revealing secrets is a particularly powerful form of bonding as it admits the other person into your 'inner circle'.
I've not told anyone else about this, but I'm terrified of spiders.
Would you like to see my birthmark?