How do I talk to attractive people?
April 24, 2016 7:07 AM   Subscribe

I'm having success with online dating insofar as I've been lucky enough to go on dates with people I'm very physically attracted to! However, I turn into a terrible conversationalist with them when I'm on dates: I talk too fast, spiral off on tangents, try too hard to impress, fail to make decent eye contact and generally act like a schoolkid with a huge crush rather than the intelligent, mature adult I like to think I am. As a result, things tend to disintegrate after a couple of dates, because I'm not really being myself. How can I overcome this?

I am a natural introvert, but I can turn on the extrovert switch okay on dates, and I really do fare a lot better around people who I'm less physically attracted to. I'm pretty convinced it's the sexual attraction factor that's turning me into a babbling idiot here.
posted by Panthalassa to Human Relations (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Lust makes me stupid too. It helps to not plan things too much. The less you think about the person before you have to talk to them, the better. Talk on the phone as much as possible.
posted by myselfasme at 7:10 AM on April 24, 2016

If you find yourself behaving in a way that's not you (saying things you don't mean because they're just what your brain is giving you, speaking in a higher voice than usual this has happened to me in that kind of situation, despite myself, etc), take a breath, and pretend you work with this person, and tell yourself you have to keep it together. (Or, pretend they're an old friend.) Look them in the eye. Take a bit of time before you say things, so that they're backed by your actual intention and beliefs.

(Pre social anxiety treatment, I used to get super goofy and just say outright weird things, total non sequiturs. Still sort of happens occasionally (if the Force is strong - not anywhere near as bad as it used to) but doing the above works for me.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:22 AM on April 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Most of the time things will disintegrate after a couple of dates anyway. You can always try planning a date that involves doing something, keeping the focus on an activity instead of talking.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:34 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty convinced it's the sexual attraction factor that's turning me into a babbling idiot here.

A serious but funny suggestion that will help tremendously through the first few dates: masturbate right before the date (hopefully you can plan your dates in a way that will facilitate this - please don't do this outside of your home). This can relax and calm your nerves quite a bit and take the edge off the sexual attraction factor, at least temporarily, to get you through your first few dates.

Same suggestion if you find yourself in a place later on after a few dates and you find yourself completely unable to stop yourself from reaching out and smothering the person with your crushlove - take a moment for yourself and then revisit the idea of whether that's a good move at the moment.

This isn't a long term solution, of course - you'll still have to deal with the internal self-esteem and anxiety issues (if they exist). However, doing that to quiet your hormones and brain chemistry, combined with refocusing on the date in a more zen-like view of the date as "no big deal, let's see where this goes" can help you enter into the date more like yourself and less intensely focused on how physically attractive the other person is such that you can actually focus on the person themselves.

I've been in a relationship or two where I've constantly psyched myself out over self-worth because of just how utterly hot the other person was - but looking back those weren't great relationships to start with because there wasn't much foundation there and barring that factor I might not have wanted to date them long term.
posted by Karaage at 8:36 AM on April 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Most of us get nervous on a date with someone we find attractive, and catch ourselves talking too much etc. I wonder if, when you realize you're doing this, you get more nervous and go into a kind of arousal/nervousness/talking spiral?

But it's not at all uncommon to babble a little on dates, especially on first dates, or to be a little awkward. As a woman, I'll notice if my date is doing all the talking and not asking me questions, or not giving me a chance to respond to questions. Generally if I think they just have first-date jitters, it doesn't keep me from going out with them again, assuming I find them attractive and interesting.

You can turn it around if you catch yourself, say with a smile "I'm doing all the talking! I'm just excited to meet you. So tell me how you wound up in community theater." And then try to refocus your energy on listening well.

I think an important key here is to practice a little radical acceptance: Yes, I babble on dates with people I like. It's not that unusual.

It might also be a good idea to have 3 or 4 simple, easy-to-remember date questions memorized. Or put them in your phone - when you catch yourself babbling, excuse yourself to the restroom, splash cold water on your phase and take some deep breaths and look up one of the questions.

Might seem like an odd suggestion, but mediation might also help. A little mindfulness seems like something that would be handy when your mind is tripping you up.
posted by bunderful at 9:06 AM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Maybe it would help to keep in mind that the main part of being a good conversationalist is being a good listener? What works for me is to pay attention to every tiny detail of what somebody is saying, and listen for the data point I can most relate to personally, e.g.

Them: "this that etc craft beer whatever chopsticks"
Me: (aha!) "Oh yeah? My brother does craft beer for a living and has spent quite some time indoctrinating me... got any favorites?"
Them: ...

At that point I usually forget about the technique I'm employing and get really into the conversation, and things tend to flow naturally from there. Get self-conscious again? Repeat the above.

Best of luck! (And don't worry about attractiveness tongue-tied, happens to everyone, even attractive people.)
posted by iffthen at 9:10 AM on April 24, 2016

Talk less. Listen more. Resolve not to say anything unless the utterance is designed to elicit further communication (more details, related topics) from them.

This (for me) is harder than it sounds, but you end up having to listen more closely to them and tend not to yammer on.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 9:23 AM on April 24, 2016 [9 favorites]

*I meant meditation. Not mediation.
posted by bunderful at 9:56 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

So what happens during these conversations? Does the conversation just kind of awkwardly die away? I have experience of that.

I used to think that I would always have this problem with people I found attractive: just yammering on while they watched me politely but with increasing confusion until the conversation, such as it was, ground to a halt. Then I started having good conversations with guys I DID find attractive and I realised... I wasn't just useless at Talking to Guys. It takes two to make a conversation. You bounce off each other. I forgot that I was talking with a guy I was secretly lusting after. I was too interested in what they were saying to get overly distracted by their nice eyes or nice voice or whatever.

That was when I realised that all those times when I thought I was failing to make conversation with cute guys was really me trying REALLY HARD to make conversation when actually, we just didn't have good enough chemistry to bounce off each other. The attractiveness of these guys was a red herring, distracting me from the fact that we didn't really have much in common.

The people you're having better luck chatting with, the ones you're not that physically attracted to. Is there any possibility you might be overlooking some possibilities there?
posted by Ziggy500 at 10:26 AM on April 24, 2016 [10 favorites]

Add some other people into the mix? Go bowling with a few friends and invite them along, or meet at a bar you know friends are likely to be.

Why first dates have to be alone is a mystery to me. I have never done the internet dating thing, but every relationship I have had started from a group of people and ending up getting one on one later. Seems more natural to replicate that. Then you can not only concentrate on being yourself, the people around you should support and reflect that back on you. Good luck.
posted by 0bvious at 11:37 AM on April 24, 2016

Because it's not a date if there are a bunch of other people that you all know. However, I have done this. I was messaging a woman about when we could meet, and it turned out that I was going to a bar in her neighborhood with a friend and she could come if she wanted. She did, it was fine, my friend didn't even know (I'm pretty good at crafting familiarity), we went out for 3-6 months, and that was that. I wouldn't really do it again, it's a pretty advanced dating technique with not a lot of payoff in that based on other online first dates I've had, the connection between us wasn't appreciably different than if we had met as a twosome.
posted by rhizome at 1:45 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sometimes, just acknowledging it makes the rest of the conversation easier.
"Wow, you have such beautiful eyes!" And then back to the subject at hand.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:54 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Help me Viva Las Vegas!   |   Metafilter, Please VOIP Me! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.