Why can’t people come with subtitles that decipher their body language?
These translations could be on an LED light display fixed to a hat or headband. It would be so nice to have a shortcut to the meaning of subtle and not so subtle cues that people exhibit.
I’ve contemplated the importance of body language many times over the years and it’s a useful tool for the dating life. To help my own natural powers of observation, I took a couple of online courses and did some reading on this topic.
There’s a lot of research on body language and what it means. From my reading and online classes, I’ve learned not only about various forms of eye contact such as “deep gazing” but also about the importance of such body language behaviors as smiling (a no-brainer for me), microexpressions – brief facial expressions that reveal emotions, leaning toward someone you like, and mirroring where you imitate someone as a means of communication and approval.
I have added to this knowledge base with real life experiences of body language fails.
Body Language Fails from my Dating Files
Not Seeing Eye to Eye
One of my more frustrating encounters involved a date with a man who wouldn’t look me in the eye. It was an early fall afternoon — warm enough to sit on an outside lounge sofa (think poolside couch in Miami). Feeling bold, I sat on the couch next to Mr. A and we began to chat. However, instead of turning toward me and holding my gaze, he looked straight ahead while talking. I was having none of that. Eye contact is critical for me. “I need to see your eyes when we talk,” I said and orchestrated our positions so we were opposite each other. I made some clichéd comment about the eyes being the window to your soul but that didn’t help very much.
We continued what turned into an interesting and far ranging conversation. However, although most people hold eye contact between 60 and 70 percent of the time, Mr. A was more in the 10 to 15 percent range. I couldn’t figure out his behavior. He was U.S. born so I didn’t think it was culturally based. He seemed to like me and went in for the goodbye kiss.
After the date, I reviewed our interaction. I did a little Googling and asked some friends and came up with lots of theories explaining Mr. A’s lack of eye contact – everything from being shy, to lying about his marital status to having Asperger’s syndrome. I’ll never know the reason. There was no second date (though he tried at one point to schedule one). But Mr. A’s failed gazing behavior was too big of a deal breaker for me.
An Imperfect Kiss
Beyond the issue of whether someone is a good kisser, is the message via body language that the kiss sends to you. For example, I went out a couple of times with a man who kissed with his lips only. Okay, you’re thinking well, of course he kissed with his lips. But when a man kisses you and doesn’t put his whole body into it, he’s holding back on emotion for whatever reason. Even when those lips know what to do, if they are isolated from his body, there’s a weird disconnect that says, “I’m not really that into you.”
What you want is a whole body kisser! (Unintentional pun.)
Too Many to Count
And then there was the man who placed his cell phone next to his happy hour glass, crossed his arms, and proceeded to go into overdrive about his incredibly boring job and medical/surgical history. I kid you not. The sad part is he was a good looking, tall, and well-built man. But that couldn’t compensate for his poor body language and pathetic conversation style. My body language said escape with my feet pointing toward the door and escape I did after about 35 minutes.
One side benefit of being aware of someone else’s body language is the increased awareness of the signals you are sending out. Pay attention to your body and what it’s doing. It can sometimes provide clues about what you’re feeling before you’re fully aware of the emotion.
Until next week, happy dating or not dating.