The psychology behind the click
Looking for that click is one of the most frustrating parts of dating, but did you know you can actually click with anyone? Hayley Thompson investigates the power of vulnerable language
How many good dates have you had recently? Dates where almost everything went perfectly but, as you said good night, somewhere in the pit of your stomach you knew that you were also saying goodbye?
The difference between a good date and a great one – the kind where you’re itching to see that person again – is almost as frustratingly difficult to explain as it is to be away from that amazing new person that you just clicked with.
For those of you who’d like to call it serendipity or fate, you might want to look away now.
The authors of Click: the Magic of Instant Connections, Ori and Rom Brafman have made a devastatingly simple connection between that feeling that you just can’t put your finger on and traditional psychology.
They believe it all comes down to showing a little vulnerability.
I know; in our hard and fast world of grin and bear it, no-one wants to look vulnerable. But before you switch off, consider for a moment how human you are.
On a date, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the person sitting opposite you isn’t just someone you’re trying to impress. But don’t forget; they’re human too.
‘Allowing yourself to be vulnerable helps the other person to trust you, precisely because you’re putting yourself at emotional, psychological or physical risk. Other people tend to react by being more open and vulnerable themselves,’ write Brafman and Brafman. ‘The fact that both of you are letting down your guard helps to lay the groundwork for a faster, closer personal connection. When you both make yourselves vulnerable from the outset and are candid in revealing who you are and how you think and feel, you create an environment that fosters the kind of openness that can lead to an instant connection – a click.’
There are, of course, other elements involved in the ‘click’. Brafman and Brafman also believe that couples with similar interests, levels of education and social standing tend to be more drawn to one another. But it’s seeing someone as ‘real’ and down-to-earth that can often make this their most attractive quality; something that you can’t communicate until you’ve chosen to open up.
And that’s what is so interesting about vulnerability and its effect on the ‘click’. Compared to everything else going on, like wondering whether or not you’re actually being funny, your vulnerability factor is something that you can actually influence.
There are five levels of vulnerable language, and when we eventually access the final stage with a romantic partner, studies show that couples feel safe and extremely connected.
The five stages of vulnerability
- Phatic – this level of language is one we’d use every day with virtually anyone e.g. ‘How are you?’
- Factual – at this level, language is used to express information but not necessarily strong emotion or opinion e.g. ‘I live in London’
- Evaluative – this is where opinions start to be expressed, but nothing that gives away a core belief e.g. ‘That film was really funny!’
- Gut-level – this is where it starts to heat up! The first three stages are all thought-orientated but gut-level communication is emotion-led. It’s a personal declaration that says something about who you are on a deeper level e.g. ‘I’m sad that you’re not here.’
- Peak – this is the most emotionally vulnerable level. Peak statements share your innermost feeling. This type of communication is deeply revealing and carries the most risk in terms of how the other person will respond. It’s used rarely, even when speaking to someone we’re very close to, and some people find it extremely difficult to use e.g. ‘I guess, at heart, I’m terrified I’m going to lose you.’
The book Click: the Magic of Instant Connections also points out that studies have shown that openness and sharing at the highest levels of the vulnerably language scale help to promote sexual and relationship satisfaction.
And the best news? Vulnerable language can even help online daters.
As Brafman and Brafman put it, ‘members [of online dating sites]who have made an active choice to share more personal information about themselves in their profiles and in communication with others were more likely to experience success in the dating process.’
So, the next time you’re on a date – a good date – try opening up a little. Allow yourself to appear human and vulnerable, because that ‘real’ relationship really could be just a click away.
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