I’m thankful I stopped dating before tinder came along. Despite that time gap, I’ve still gotten to have the weird pleasure of being able to swipe across profiles with abandon on some friend or another’s phone, regardless of gender, and get a glimpse of what it’s all about.

As part of my spy-novels and intelligence industry reading/watching kick, Daniel and I spent a couple hours the other night watching youtube videos about verbal manipulation/ hypnosis (and, as always happens, how they relate to pick-up, because, it seems, that’s the point of conversational manipulation- scoring/ love.)

Now, you’d never believe it, but it sure seemed like the summary of the starter-manipulation videos was along the lines of “have a meaningful conversation, get the other person talking, and they will trust you and find you interesting.”

i.e. “Listen more than you speak.”

Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like small-talk 101. Ask questions about the other person that cause them to open up…..and tada, you have a new friend.

Perhaps due to being a life-long introvert, I find small-talk and getting-to-know you sessions boring. I remember distinctly having this realization early on in my twenties, in my first months of adult-job-having, that people (men) would want to talk to me because I was a pretty young girl in a mostly male industry. And I determined, quickly that, these conversations would be deadly dull for me unless I started asking questions that were personal/ probing/ real.

Basically, asking whatever came to mind that was not part of the script. And really, this isn’t strange behavior: it’s what we do with our close friends already. We ask them real questions at the moment they occur in our heads.

Most people don’t know how to return a volley if the script is dropped, unfortunately, so conversations return to dullness.

This is not, by the way, radical honesty I’m referring to. It’s manipulated honesty. The plan is never to reveal my entire internal dialog, just the parts that could move this conversation to a more interesting place.

“Hold your cards close in love and negotiations.”

So I notice that I’ve fallen out of practice with this form of repartee over the years- the tedium of getting older, of choosing to be polite, of not-wanting to generate closeness- real or faked- with other people, because that need for intimacy is fulfilled by real people in my life.

I was describing this dilemma to Daniel yesterday, that of simultaneously not-wanting to be bored and not-wanting-to-appear-to-be-generating closeness with new people. (Said in the affirmative, the dilemma of both wanting to be entertained without appearing to want [emotional] intimacy with the new people/person.) This was in response to the dreary structure that most opening conversations take.
“What do you do?”
“I’m a clothing designer, we have a brand…”
“Oh. Do you sell in a store or online?”
“Wholesale and online..”

I love to talk about our work, but only with people who understand the fashion industry already. It’s tedious otherwise. Topics I enjoy talking about with strangers include: languages in general, Arabic, German, rock climbing, the situation unfolding in the Middle East, and relationships. The first three are very challenging to weave gracefully into a conversation. Rock climbing is easy to bring up, but all anyone wants to talk about in response is “Did you see that 60 minutes on this guy named Alex? Shoot, what was his last name…”

As far as the Middle East, most people have an uninformed and virulent opinion to share, which is not even worth discussing.

And if you start talking about relationships, the conversation gets intimate too quickly for most people’s taste, mine included, most of the time, until you’ve properly established social boundaries.

*

All this is a teasing out of the contents of the last post- specifically, how to be more honest with the world – and the challenges its presents. Because with honesty comes depth and intimacy, but these outcomes have their own baggage. Being honest makes everything more vivid and interesting, but it also creates connections- connections that I, at least, don’t always want, and mistaken flirtations when really, it’s just about keeping the conversation entertaining.

*
There is no conclusion. Until next time.

Posted by:brook delorme

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