Sunday, December 31, 2006

"It's You and Me, Baby, Alone Against This Mad, Mad World"

You've heard the old chestnut, "Opposites attract." Mom and Dad undoubtedly told you, "Birds of a feather flock together." Sound like contradictions, don't they? In the magically insane, yet scientifically rational universe of romantic love, they're not. All the studies tell us lovers are drawn to partners with similar attitudes, values, interests, and outlooks on life. In our fastpaced world of so many stimuli bombarding us every minute, our heads are spinning. We constantly ask ourselves, "How should I feel about that? What should I believe?" With the grains of so many truths and so many lies whirling 'round our brains, we wonder "What makes sense?" Finally, when we find someone who has come to the same conclusions about the world, we feel a tremendous sense of relief. We feel close to this person. Love romanticizes that closeness into, "It's you and me, baby, alone against this mad, mad world." When people construct a little cocoon around themselves and cohabit in it with a partner who feels the same way about life, it gives order to a chaotic world. They can spend their nights together in a warm womb where unknown forces and threatening values can't assault them. Similarity makes lovers feel secure. It's not just for security that we seek similarity. If people want long-term love, they know it's a wise choice. The studies-show that similar partners have a much better chance of stay ing together. Similar values keep the love coals warm long after the first flames of passion have cooled. Similarity . . . and a Touch of Difference (Just a Touch) Similarity is safe. Yet too much similarity, over time, becomes boring, so people seek differences, too. But here's the rub: They only seek certain kinds of differences. Lovers want qualities that are just different enough to keep the relationship interesting but not different enough to interfere with their own lifestyle. They choose partners who can give them new experiences, expose them to new ideas, teach them new skills, improve their lifestyle, and make up for their lacks. They also look for complementary qualities in a partner. Complementary means something that "completes or brings to perfection." For instance, a bashful man might be drawn to a gabby mate to make up for his own shyness. A woman lacking in worldly sophistication might be impressed with a man who knows his wines. Lovers are not looking for something different in a partner, just something different enough to fit in with their lives and bring them, as a couple, to "perfection." Sometimes you hear of men and women who crave qualities entirely different in their partners. It happens. For example, a man brought up on the tight leash of a blue-blooded family might take a walk on the wild side with a street-smart woman. That street-smart woman might long for a limousine, a butler, and a maid. But, even when these two find what they
think they want, such liaisons don't usually last long. Rarely do they result in a long-term happy marriage. How can you use this knowledge, that lovers seek similarity with a touch of difference, to make someone fall in lovewith you? Unfortunately, when you first meet your Quarry, you don't know enough about him. You don't have enough data to hint that, although you are similar, you are just different enough to be the right partner for her. So you must start with what you perceive. Observe your Quarry carefully. Then begin highlighting your similarities. If all goes well, you'll have time later to gauge what "different" qualities would complement his or her life. All the studies on initial attraction establish this fact: Attraction to a stranger is a function of the proportion of similarity the subjects perceive. 31 Perceive is the key word here. Barring a frontal lobotomy, you can't change your attitudes, your values, your emotional makeup, or your outlook on life to actually make you similar to your Quarry. You don't yet have enough knowledge about your new Quarry to even start spouting similar philosophies, hinting at similar convictions, and alluding tosimilar aesthetics. However, you can arm yourself with a bag of savory subtle tricks to make your Quarry perceive you are similar. In the following pages, I will arm you with verbal and nonverbal techniques to make your Quarry feel that the two of you are very much alike indeed. Some of the techniques are subliminal. Others are overt. But they all work.

No comments: