Dating and matchmaking
Dating, mating, chat-up lines - examples of relationships communications - and gary chapman's five languages of love theory
The science of dating and matchmaking provides many fascinating illustrations and examples for the study and development of communications, personality, relationships and behaviour.
Body-language and non-verbal communications are significant in relationships, especially in flirting, and initial contact.
Like body language, many aspects of effective dating and 'chat-up' communications apply to successful communications in general.
We tend to be concerned about ourselves, but the other person's needs, feelings and reactions are central to being successful.
An important principle is that people enjoy and respond being given the opportunity to talk about themselves, especially from a perspective that interests them and enables them to express themselves with some passion and enthusiasm.
An ability to listen and show genuine understanding, is also vital to forming rapport early in discussions, which again applies to all communications, not just to flirting and dating.
Dating studies also confirm that people form impressions extremely quickly when meeting others for the first time: initial impressions are crucial, which applies to all 'first meetings', whether in dating, business, or any other situation.
Again understanding body language is very helpful in creating positive first impressions.
Some of these principles, and other specific findings relating to forming early successful relationships in dating, are illustrated in the summary below of the study carried out in April 2006 by Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire, as part of the 2006 Edinburgh International Science Festival.
These lessons are in essence transferable to all relationships and one-to-one meetings, aside from providing many useful dating pointers.
N.B. I say 'in essence' because I do not suggest that at your next business meeting you should ask the other person "What is your favourite pizza topping?" The 'essence' here is the principle of asking interesting relevant questions as a basis of creating rapport.
Preliminary results from the first large-scale speed dating experiment have shown that women make up their minds about potential partners much faster than men, and revealed the best type of chat-up lines.
The study, conducted on Sunday 9th April 2006 by Professor Richard Wiseman (University of Hertfordshire) at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, involved 100 members of the public taking part in five-hundred 'speed dates'.
During the event, participants rated the attractiveness of their dates and indicated whether they would like to meet that person again.
Initial results revealed that in about a third of the dates, participants reached decisions about their potential mates in less than thirty seconds. Perhaps surprisingly, women proved especially likely to make such snap decisions, with 45% of women's decisions being made under thirty seconds, compared to just 22% of men's decisions.
"Men are often accused of being shallow and judging women very quickly - however, this evidence suggests that women may make up their minds much quicker than men", commented Wiseman. "It suggests men have only a few seconds to impress a woman, thus emphasising the importance of their opening comments".
Overall 60% of participants met someone with whom there was a mutual interest in seeing each other again.
Women were twice as 'picky' as men, and the top rated man and woman of the evening had a 100% success rate, with all of their dates wanting to meet them again.
To uncover the best type of chat-up lines, researchers compared the conversations of participants rated as 'very desirable' by their dates with those seen as 'especially undesirable'. Those 'highly skilled in seduction' encouraged their dates to talk about themselves in an unusual, quirky, way.
The most memorable lines from the top-rated man and woman in the study illustrate the point:
The top-rated male's best line was: 'If you were on Stars In Their Eyes, who would you be?', whilst the top-rated female asked: 'What's your favourite pizza topping?'.
In contrast, failed 'Casanovas' tended to be far less creative, employing old chestnuts like 'Do you come here often?' or struggling to impress with comments such as 'I have a PhD in computing'.
To identify the best topic of conversation for those in search of their perfect partner, participants were also asked to chat about different topics during the event. When talking about movies, less than 9% of the pairs wanted to meet up again, compared to 18% when participants spoke about the top topic - travel.
A clue as to why would-be lovers might want to avoid chatting about movies comes from additional questionnaire data from the study, showing that men and women have very different tastes in movies. For example, 49% of men liked action films compared to just 18% of women, whilst 29% of women liked musicals compared to only 4% of men.
"Whenever our couples spoke about films they really increased their chance of disagreement", commented Wiseman. "In contrast, conversations about travel tend to revolve around great holidays and dream destinations, and that makes people feel good and so appear more attractive to one another".
A second study demonstrated the age-old difficulty in predicting successful dating and matchmaking partnerships, (an interesting juxtaposition to the 'wisdom of crowds' principle, should anyone be considering applying it to dating services): over four-hundred people participated in an online experiment in which they studied photographs and descriptions of four women, and one man who dated each of the women. The four-hundred respondents attempted to predict the women he would find most attractive, but even the group who considered themselves 'especially skilled at matchmaking' failed to predict his choice correctly.
(With grateful acknowledgements to Professor R Wiseman.)
Professor Richard Wiseman (University of Hertfordshire) has published over forty academic papers into unusual areas of psychology, including deception, luck and the paranormal. Wiseman frequently appears on the media and has written The Luck Factor - a best selling book exploring the lives and minds of lucky and unlucky people. More info at: www.richardwiseman.com. The study was run in collaboration with Dr James Houran, an American expert on the psychology of compatibility with Online Dating Magazine. More info at: www.onlinedatingmagazine.com.
The significance - particularly men's fascination and search for the killer chat-up line - is underpinned by some serious behavioural reasons.
Many studies have highlighted the significance of first impressions. And chat-up lines are in many situations first impressions - especially in a crowded, noisy, dynamic environment, where casual visual impressions have far less impact.
Typically people form a view about someone they meet for the first time extremely quickly.
Some theories suggest this happens in a matter of just a few seconds.
It is easy to demonstrate this by simply considering your own reactions to others. Whether we want to or not, we find it very difficult not to form an instant impression when we meet someone for the first time.
These judgements are partly instinctive.
This is arguably a capability that has become fine-tuned in each of us through thousands of generations of human evolution.
Our senses and capabilities in this respect have evolved for reasons of survival (detecting threats quickly), and from successful mating (where the offspring of compatible genetic types thrives better than less compatible couplings).
We exist today because somewhere in our ancestry, our great-great-great etc etc grandmothers (mainly) managed to avoid men who would rape, kill and possibly eat them, and instead managed to select men to mate with who would enable the resultant issue to grow strong enough in body and mind to continue the genetic line until it reached you.
In prehistoric times, life was a bit tougher than it was today. There were no laws, no human rights, no police and no CCTV. So vulnerable womenfolk had to live by their wits and any other senses which would inform their reactions, or their misjudgement could literally be the end of the line.
The chat-up line is therefore a modern equivalent of the prehistoric life or death, and genetic matching mental handshake.
The consequences of getting it wrong today are less serious, but in terms of first impressions, the moment of truth comes just as early in the meeting.
This is a simple theory for understanding the different romantic loving relationship needs of people, developed by the noted American counsellor and author Dr Gary Chapman. He calls these needs The Five Languages of Love:
- Affirmation - being appreciated and told so.
- Attention - spending time together alone.
- Gifts - tangible expressions of love - not necessarily expensive.
- Help - willing 'acts of service' - doing things for the other person.
- Touch - physical contact - stroking, hugging, etc.
Gary Chapman developed his concept ostensibly for married couples but the core principles arguably apply to most romantic and sexual relationships.
A helpful lesson within the Chapman Five Love Languages theory is to remind us that relationships work when both people's needs are met, and that knowing each other's needs is a very important step towards this aim. The model is a simple and effective structure for such understanding.
Chapman asserts that while there are many different needs which represent the love sought by people in romantic relationships, these needs can be categorised into five main areas. Chapman calls these 'the five languages of love'.
People need these things in different degrees. Chapman refers to the mixture of needs as a 'love strategy'.
Logically we form and maintain better relationships when we satisfy the needs of the other person in the mixture or balance they require.
Human nature tends instead to focus our mind on our own needs, and in many cases to assume that our partner has similar needs, which is usually quite wrong.
It is common in relationships for partners to have less than full understanding of each other's love needs.
For example a husband or boyfriend might give plenty of task-related support and gifts, and wonder why the relationship fails to respond, when perhaps his partner actually needs time alone and some hugging and stroking.
A wife or girlfriend might imagine that time together and sex will strengthen the relationship with her man, when maybe what he needs is affirmation - to believe that his woman loves him and thinks he's great.
Knowing each other's needs (especially the primary one or two needs), and then responding to them, is crucial for sustaining a successful mutually loving relationship.
Given five main needs, the potential combinations and misunderstandings are limitless, although Chapman simplifies this by suggesting that each person tends to have a primary need, augmented by a mixture of less vital needs. Identifying one primary need and then meeting it is obviously an easier way to start than trying to prioritise and then address appropriately all five.
Chapman's model certainly helps emphasise the importance of seeing relationships from the viewpoint of the other person, not oneself, which is a common human failing.
The validity of a simple theory like this will always be open to debate, however Chapman's concept is very widely referenced and seems to make good sense. Certainly the model provides an excellent framework for discussing and understanding mutual needs - even one's own needs, which are not always well understood by oneself.
The essence of Chapman's theory - understanding and responding individual needs - to relates interestingly to concepts such as VAK and Kolb, together with models of personality, brain-type, multiple intelligence, and life stage.
Body language is a relevant area of theory also, since emotional communications between people are never wholly conveyed in words alone. Mehrabian's (7%/38%/55%) theory naturally relates to this in turn.
The Five Languages of Love model first appeared in Gary Chapman's best-selling book 'The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate', which was first published in 1992, and has sold several million copies.
Dr Gary Chapman is an anthropologist by academic training (anthropology is the study of humankind and human behaviour). He is also a pastor and deeply religious man. He has written many other books around the 'Five Languages' theme and is a popular speaker.
Here is Gary Chapman's Five Languages of Love website.
© Five Languages of Love concept belongs to Dr Gary Chapman.
- Body Language - including males and females flirting signals and meanings
- Personality Styles
- Understand (and test) your own Multiple Intelligences and Learning/Thinking Style
- Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
- Erikson's Life Stages Theory
- Assertiveness and Self-Confidence
- Visualisation and Self-Belief
- Transactional Analysis - possibly the most useful communications and relationships theory ever developed..
- Ladder Theory - mostly for amusement, but interesting nevertheless
- Buying Facilitation - this is extremely powerful too when adapted for relationships - use it, and people buy you