Why is it So Hard Starting a New Relationship

When two people meet, there is always some type of reaction. We are attracted or repelled. That sounds kind of harsh but the reality is that we evaluate people based on some simple criteria. In each encounter with someone new, we ask: What can I get out of this relationship that I want? What might I get out of this relationship that I don’t want? 

The moment we ask ourselves these questions we begin to set our expectations! And it can happen in the first 5 minutes of our encounter! 

Let’s say you meet a person in a coffee shop for the first time after corresponding through a dating service. You sit down across from this person and immediately feel like running away.  That’s kind of a no-brainer right now and for the purposes of this article, find a polite way to excuse yourself to leave. What just happened is an entirely different future article! 

So we are interested in the coffee shop meeting where you begin a conversation with the person and feel yourself drawn to them for some reason. While you are chatting, the two questions above will begin to swirl around in your head. You will probably not be conscious of it but your mind is trying to do its best to categorize this new person and make some kind of judgement.   

“What can I get out of this relationship that I want?” 

Your mind goes down your list of wants and monitors your interaction with the new person to determine if there is potential there. Maybe you want someone to hike with, someone who loves Mexican food as much as you, someone who likes to make time to read.  

Your wants may include the reverse of things you don’t want. You may want to meet someone who is a good listener because your previous love interest was not. 

Your “I don’t want” monitor is running at the same time. Maybe you don’t want the loud, boisterous type, or someone who has extreme political ideas (in either direction!). 

Without your knowledge, these questions are being asked and answered in your mind while you’re having a simple cup of coffee and a conversation with this new person. It’s amazing we ever get through the first 30 minutes after meeting someone new! 

So, what’s wrong with this? I forgot to mention that your list of wants numbers into the THOUSANDS! Hundreds of thousands! Going through this checklist is an exhausting process.  No wonder we feel drained by a conversation with someone new. Especially with someone with whom we appear to “click”! 

And remember that the person sitting across from you is probably doing the same thing! There is another way to have an initial meeting with someone that will give you a lot more information, and a better sense of the encounter.  

That is to focus on being curious. Be curious about the other person, how they walked up to the table, what kind of drink they ordered, how they introduced themselves.  What topics did they bring up to talk about and when they replied to you, how thoughtful or reactive was the reply?  

What is important to them versus what they consider trite? What do they do for a living versus what they do for their happiness? Who has had the most impact on their lives? 

Something interesting happens when we tune into our curiosity about another person. We begin to sense what it is that THEY want, and what THEY don’t want. Believe it or not, with that knowledge we have a lot better sense of who the person is across the table from us.  

And, we’ll have a better sense of whether we can fit into their world! Which is a great feeling to have after that first coffee meeting with someone new!

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