JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Eager, aloof and all things in between

Date
Some people crave intimacy, other people prefer distance.

Some people crave intimacy, other people prefer distance.

Fact: Eager Beavers Win More Sex.

Why is dating so hard? Dating is hard because it involves creating intimacy with strangers. You must strike up a conversation and a sense of connection with someone you either don’t know at all, or don’t know very well. Why does dating suck? Dating sucks because we know we judge. And we know that as we look into the eyes of the person sitting opposite, they’re trying to answer the same question: “Am I really that into you?”

So we play our little games, and we concoct winning strategies. Some of us play hard to get. Others play all our cards at once. And as we go about this mad business of trying to be with other people – trying to find the golden triangle of love and sex and friendship – we wonder whether we’re doing the right thing, or we’re cocking it all up spectacularly. How can I get you to like me? How can I get you to sleep with me? How can I behave so we can be happy together?

Well here’s the good news: The academy has determined there is a pattern of behaviour that can make you more desirable, an approach which fuels attraction. And it mightn’t be what you think. In fact, for many people, the behaviour outlined in this research runs counter to one of the most commonly held assumptions about effective dating practice. That thou shalt treat them mean to keep them keen.

(Read on)

According to the article, published earlier this year in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, when it comes to initiating a new romance (and sex), success depends upon perception. No surprises there. So here’s the interesting part: desirability shares a positive relationship with how responsive we perceive our potential partner to be. To wit, people who are eager and interested and willing to display affection are generally more attractive than people who are too cool and aloof.

How does that sit with your courtship experience?

If it jars, it could be worth noting a few mitigating factors outlined by the authors.

  1. Gender: Men are more likely to respond positively to women who are eager than the other way around. This is because women are thought to be more selective about their choice of partner, and therefore more suspicious of a potential mate’s behaviour.
  2. Attachment orientation: Some people crave intimacy, other people prefer distance. Where you sit on the spectrum impacts on whether you’re likely to find a new flame’s enthusiasm attractive or repellent.
  3. Stage of relationship: The attractiveness of responsiveness improves with time. Intimacy in established relationships has a positive relationship with sexual desire, and responsiveness is key to achieving intimacy. While responsiveness during the initial getting-to-know you phase is largely a good thing, too much too soon may still be a problem (especially in view of the aforementioned conditions).

In other words, gents may want to take their natural eagerness down a notch, women may want to reverse their remoteness and virgin encounters might benefit from some initial softness. Make sense?

For my own part, I certainly agree with the idea we like people we know like us. I agree with this because I feel that liking yourself is one of the biggest of life’s challenges and a core motivation to forge bonds with other people. Some people find affirmation through sexual intimacy, others through emotional intimacy. Some of us need affirmation more than others. It’s important to be mindful of what it is we’re really looking for so we can go out and achieve it. And it’s important to convey what we want too, especially when it comes to what we want in our love and sex lives.

Yet so many people have gone after what they want only to wind up wounded. I know many who feel they scared off someone special because they came on too strong. It’s difficult, sometimes, because there is a gentle line between enthusiasm and obsession. There is a way to walk it.

How?

Here’s where the diversity of your advice and insight comes in.

Are you male or female? Where do you sit on the attachment spectrum? Do you prefer new lovers to be eager or aloof? Does that carry through from emotions to sex? And are you an eager beaver who has been burned – what happened, and how did you deal? Or do you think the research is wrong – that the mean are mightier than the keen?

twitter  @katherinefeeney

tumblr  Tumblr

facebook  Facebook

 

215 comments

  • Goodness, so many questions in one go.
    At my age, mid to late 40’s when I was in the open market earlier this year it was simple, there needs to be enthusiasm. I found the enthusiasm I was looking for and it keeps increasing over time.
    People, don’t play little games, just enjoy and respect.

    Commenter
    Victorious Painter
    Date and time
    November 02, 2012, 7:39AM
    • +1. Same vintage... Maybe at that age there are, hopefully, less games, less fear of rejection (and regecting). And more respect. And often it's more a search for companionship, so similar values take on more importance than anything else.

      Commenter
      w
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 8:51AM
    • Yup. Life is too short for games. Really, who the hell could be bothered? I couldn't even be bothered when I was a teenager. If I like someone, look out!

      Commenter
      AT
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 9:11AM
    • @VP

      As you write, there are 'so many questions'.

      - - -

      Kate

      I'd suggest the variables contributing to 'dating' is far more complex than you articulate.

      Clearly, the 'dating' referred to by you appears that between two people in the 'market' for a long time partner. Simply, there is a screening process to select out those who would not appear to be marriage partners (even though marriage itself is not the prominent perception).

      That said, relationships of a sexual kind need not be about two singles; eg. 2 marrieds seeking a FWB's.

      Coming back to the variables...

      Earlier this year you focused on the 'treat em mean and keep em keen' concept. Many contributed attributes for the 'other' that contradicted that described above.

      Then we have the psychological view that we tend to wed someone similar to either our mother or father (depending on which infects our deepest meanings).

      Personally, I don't think one can formularise the dating process (as you suggest). I note the reference used by you is a description of (possible) attributes from three studies. Importantly, each study was conducted using the dubious method of participant observations. That in itself ought be cause for concern even if one was seeking to garner such criteria.

      I think VP's comment is more helpful - just be yourself (ie no pretenses - as is so common these days) and don't play games.

      Cheers

      Commenter
      Dalliance
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 9:27AM
    • Sorry I notice that there was no mention of the sample group from which these 'conclusions' were lifted. Total BS! I have seen it NUMEROUS times, not only with my own relationships, but also of countless friends around me. Every single time the 'keeness' outweighs the 'meaness' there is a subtle shift of power and the relationship is doomed - unless you have a strong desire to remain 'whipped' for the remainder of your days. I have even, as an experiment, gone from mean to keen and then back again before it was terminal and watched the way my partner responded. Its sick I know but as humans we like to be constantly challenged and 'keeness' is a sign of submission ie. no challenge. I dont doubt that there are rare examples of equality around, but they are few and far between. I for one will be sticking with the 'meaness', its worked VERY well so far.

      Commenter
      Malcolm
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 03, 2012, 5:17PM
  • So who you are determines whether you want people to come on strong or play hard to get?

    Then surely the message would be: Be yourself. Don't try to be someone you're not and you're more likely to find someone who's a good match.

    Commenter
    Random Comment
    Date and time
    November 02, 2012, 8:15AM
    • I couldn't agree more.

      Commenter
      CK
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 11:17AM
  • I suppose, as with anything, if the other person is aloof it gives you the impression that they are not interested. Hence you would start to wonder what it is you are doing in a relationship where the other person is apparently not interested in you. Why people have to play this game is beyond me. You like somebody, you let them know, I mean that's the whole point isn't it?

    Commenter
    perplexed
    Location
    nsw
    Date and time
    November 02, 2012, 8:26AM
    • I thought males like chasing...While they usually after the one thing..and the women after the other...(family, kids, security etc...)..I thing it is hard nowdays to find a real passion...And that's what I am after...

      Commenter
      mimi
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 8:41AM
      • Errr, I think you will find that there are plenty of men out there that want family, kids and security. That’s kinda why you see some men with those things, yet of course there are some who desperately crave it, but seem to not find it. Just as I know there are women out there that do not want those things. Maybe if you let the men you come across be their individual selves, you would get more passion in your life. Because that's what passion is, being your wild abandoned self. You should allow others to be also, by not boxing them in on preconceived notions of what they want according to their gender. I mean really, who the hell are you to know? And if a man does not want those things with you, that does not mean he won’t want them with another. If you get around thinking men are only after ‘one thing’ (although I have to say, I am rather partial to that ‘one thing’ myself) you are seriously limiting them and your experience of them. That kind of attitude is lacking in any generosity of spirit towards men, so I am not sure how you expect to get any passion from them.

        Commenter
        AT
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        November 02, 2012, 9:45AM

    More comments

    Comments are now closed
    Featured advertisers

    Horoscopes

    Capricorn horoscope

    Trust others to think for themselves. Don't be snobbish about what seems obvious. Everyone learns at their own pace, including you.

    ...find out more here