Appearance, Reputation, and Competence Build Confidence

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

For singles to have the kind of dating experience they’d like, they need to learn to sell themselves successfully.  Last time we looked at the first step: learning the other person’s needs by listening and paying attention.  From there, singles need to gain the other party’s confidence.  The first factor to consider here is appearance.  Don’t underestimate the importance of a good haircut (for men and women) and clothes that fit.  When in doubt, overdress for the occasion.  Gentlemen, this goes for you, too.  If she’s in a dress and heals, jeans are not appropriate attire.

Be careful to protect your reputation in the singles community, as it may surprise you how fast word travels, especially now with social media.  Even in Phoenix, the sixth largest city in the country, I run into the same people in my business networking circles, just as I did with singles when I was dating.

A great way to build a good reputation for yourself is to project competence.  My husband, Roger, understood this well.  He was consistent and reliable: he kept his promises and treated my father, my daughters, and me like gold.  One of my favorite memories from our dating days was our first Valentine’s Day together, when he drove out to the venue the day before to make sure we’d have a flawless experience – and we did!

Unfortunately, not all my dates had as much sense.  I recall a charity bowling event for singles which was set up like a speed date, where the women stayed on the same alley while the men rotated after each game.  One man was unnerved by the scores of the women on my lane and refused to rotate to our alley.  Eventually he was forced to, and I’ll never forget the sight of him with his back to the pins as he bent forward and heaved the ball between his legs, choosing to throw the game rather than “lose.”  Apparently he  had no idea what his strengths were and assumed we actually cared how he bowled! This sad display demonstrated anything but competence and prevented him from even attempting the third step in the selling process, sell a solution.  More on that next week.

Singles are Salespeople

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

Have you ever thought of singles who date as salespeople?  We are all salespeople really.  We’re always selling something – our ideas, proposals, suggestions, invitations, apologies, and excuses.  So single people are always selling, too.  They sell themselves over and over again: asking for a dance, a date, a one-night stand (heaven forbid), a weekend away, an exclusive relationship, or marriage.  If you’re single, it would behoove you to understand the five steps of the selling process so you can date more successfully and sanely.

A good salesperson begins by learning the prospect’s needs.  To do this, singles need to ask good questions, listen, and be aware.  Some have a tendency to talk too much, never finding out what they need to about the other person.  Others prefer to skip this step and start selling right away.  I remember a man I met at a mixer who after two minutes of conversation asked me if I wanted to leave and “go make out” with him!  I wish I could tell you this happened decades ago, but no, we were both in our forties.  Clearly he had no idea what my needs and interests were – but I got a good idea of what his were!

On the other hand, I recall a gentleman I dated who was particularly good at listening and paying attention.  He understood I had a wellness consulting business, and he made note when I told him I was to be interviewed on the radio.  He stopped working at just the right time on the afternoon of the interview so he could listen.  Later he told me all about it, repeating back what I’d said that he liked.  He was clearly listening well, before and during the interview, so he knew what was important to me.  This got him started on the second step very effectively: gain the prospect’s confidence.  Join me next time for more stories on that.

Compassionate Listening Enhances Trust

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

Emotional intimacy requires a high level of trust, and trust is established over time.  When we have superficial sex, typically early in a relationship, there can be no trust and therefore no real intimacy.  When we commit to sane sex, we’re willing to invest the time it takes to build trust, and one practice we can use is compassionate listening.

To listen with compassion, we need to do our best to be judgment-free and accepting.  Strive to listen carefully and patiently for both words and tone to understand what’s really important.  If you find it difficult to relate to what the other person is saying, try to imagine what the person might be feeling.  Many psychologists and spiritual teachers say every emotion is rooted in either love or fear. Can you listen more deeply for the underlying emotion?

Trust is enhanced, and compassion is easier to accomplish, when we can avoid making assumptions or projecting our values on the other person.  People need different kinds of support, and they express their compassion differently.  Some may lend a shoulder and offer wonderful emotional support, while others are inclined to be more objective and lend a hand, helping to get things done. The classic advice, “when in doubt ask!” still applies.  Ask for what you need, and ask how you can show support.

Humor is a great way to break the tension, but it can be overused to avoid addressing a difficult subject.  It can also surface when we’re feeling discomfort over the motions someone is expressing.  If it’s your tendency to use humor, be sure to stay alert for your partner’s response.  Your attempts at humor could be misunderstood. If your partner’s use of humor upset you, express your feelings gently but openly, remembering that his or her intentions are good.  He or she might be genuinely uncomfortable with the level of sharing; this may or may not be something you can overcome.

However your communication develops, be sure to explore what’s happening between you.  Compassionate listening and sharing at this level could either enhance your closeness or be an indication that you two may not be able to achieve emotional intimacy.

Safety and Trust Encourages Emotional Intimacy

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

A definition of intimacy that I offered in Worth Waiting For: Sane Sex for Singles was “a close relationship rich in familiarity, understanding, and confidence formed in a quiet atmosphere where detailed knowledge and private utterances could be exchanged.”  Given this definition, it makes sense that when you’d like to become emotionally intimate with someone, you need to know yourself well, recognize an appropriate partner, and then create an atmosphere of safety and trust.  If you are to exchange “private utterances” with this person, it’s essential that you feel absolutely safe when sharing your thoughts, feelings, reactions, and emotions.

Picnics, quiet dinners, scenic boat/train rides, and other activities that allow you to talk comfortably are ideal for sharing meaningful conversation, expressing the need for support, and acknowledging concern for each other.  Even car rides can be opportunities for dialogue, so keep the radio and DC player off.  Movies, concerts, tours, and other similar forms of entertainment are comfortable introductory dates, but they’re not suited for the kind of communication needed to foster intimacy.