There are different categories of conversations that we can explore as we are connecting with people, and most people tend to have specific comfort zones in these different categories.
- The first category is talking about anything surface level, like what's here and now, and facts about things going on around you. Those kinds of conversations are probably not specifically about you or the other person.
- The second category is intellectual interests or topics in general. This is when you can dive into, for example, politics, movies, art, or travel. You can have interesting conversations about various topics, but at this level it's still not quite about you. It's more about sharing your knowledge about the topic.
- The next category is playfulness, fun, and flirtiness. Here you’re able to joke around, be silly, and create some tension. This gets into a more vulnerable place because it takes some emotional risk when we don't know if people are going to get that joke or reciprocate that playfulness.
- Lastly we have the category of deep, very vulnerable, introspective conversations about your thoughts and feelings about life, the world, and yourself. You can talk about what your challenges are and how you really think and feel.
Maybe there is some part of you that has judgments towards one or more of these categories, but actually all of these categories are incredibly important to forming connections.
We want to work on being comfortable in each category and being able to transition from one to the other.
This is important for dating because it really determines how we connect with people and what kind of relationships we form.
For example, you might enjoy a connection where it's super flirty, fun, and playful, but if it's not balanced with more depth, it can be difficult to see that connection as something that you can commit to for the long term.
Similarly if things are really deep and you feel like, wow, this person is asking me questions about my soul, that can take a lot of energy out of the connection that's needed to feel a spark.
In the connections where we feel truly free we can talk about anything, and it never feels like anything we say is boring.
This requires us to increase our conversational range and to let anything be on the table.
Reflect on those four categories and ask yourself, where do you tend to feel the most comfortable?
You feel natural in this area, it comes easily to you, and you can just be there without a lot of friction, discomfort, or chatter in your mind.
And whichever one you feel least comfortable with is probably the one that you would most benefit from practicing on your next date.
The way that you do that is by setting that intention before the date and focus on expanding your ability just 1% or 2%.
Don't try to overcompensate and dive straight into that category. Just try to sprinkle a little bit of it in.
For me, I needed to get more comfortable shooting the breeze and appreciating how those surface conversations build the rapport that allows people to dive deeper.
If I went on a date and somebody brought up the weather I would go into it a little bit and be a bit more enthusiastic about connecting on that level.
If you need to expand 1% to 2% in the depth area, then that might mean thinking of a couple deeper questions that you would like to ask on a date.
If you are uncomfortable with intellectual conversations, it might be because you're uncomfortable sharing your opinion, so maybe practice asking yourself what you think about a topic before dismissing it.
When it comes to flirtiness, it might mean changing up the type of date that you go on. Instead of going to a fancy dinner, you could do something like mini golf, which allows more opportunities to be playful.
Whichever area you feel least comfortable with, brainstorm before your next date how you could practice expanding it 1% to 2%.
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This content was originally published on the Women's Dating and Confidence Podcast. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.