Reading Each Other’s Signals in the Early Stages

Many people are often good at the basic skills of banter but they often fall back on fact-based conversation after the initial stages. Although things may start well, a member can sometimes get bored and respond less often. What some people often misunderstand is the act of interpretation.

For some members, all flirting in the early stages is really about one thing: interpreting the things you do and say to figure out what kind of person you are? What are you made of? Are you fun? Are you ambitious? Are you honorable? Will you get on with their friends? Do you have manners? Will you be fun at first and then later be unreliable?

Some members often approach dating by looking for clues about the future before they jump in. Flirting can be a constant state of interpreting your actions. Further, it goes both ways: they carefully do and say certain things so that you interpret who they are (and want to date them). This desire to see the future is based on wanting to make the right decisions. It’s why fortune tellers and horoscopes are so powerful for some people: they promise to interpret something hidden and reveal what the future might look like.

How to Connect

The correct interpretation of what a member is really telling you, as well as telling stories they will interpret in your favor, creates opportunities to build something stronger with a member. Here are some good tips:

  • When a member tells you a fact about their life, try to interpret it yourself. If they reveal they love bungee jumping, don’t tell your own story about bungee jumping. Ask if they like taking risks. Interpret what they are telling you and you’ll find yourself connecting very quickly.
  • After you interpret something, don’t assume you got it right. Ask if they like taking risks. Don’t say, “I knew you were the kind of person who likes to take risks.” It cuts off conversation – and you might be wrong.
  • Tell stories from your life that they can interpret to understand who you are – not just random stories to keep the conversation going.
  • Attempt to interpret your own stories.
  • With practice, you can jokingly misinterpret what a match tells you. If they tell you they went to graduate school but don’t mention what they studied, you can guess something humorous (e.g. circus skills!). This can be very risky online because there’s little context – if it’s not over-the-top outrageous and obviously a joke, they may take you seriously. It’s also complicated when you’re crossing cultural and linguistic boundaries as with international dating. So proceed carefully, but see if you can find ways to interpret in funny ways.
  • When you interpret something a match tells you into a personality trait – and it’s a trait you respect – tell them so. Something as simple as “I respect that” or “I think that’s awesome” can really help build a connection. A match will like this because it is a compliment they have earned – not just an attempt at flattery.

Once you understand the underlying nature of flirting as constant two-way interpretation, you start to see conversations differently. And you will find that interpretation gets you beyond exchanging facts and into real connection with a match.