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Want love? Get busy -- and start talking
Calling the search for a soul mate "work" sucks the romance right out of the chase, but the notion is grounded in reality.
"Every great relationship, romantic or business or otherwise, begins with small talk. These relationships start with a simple conversation," said Bernardo J. Carducci, psychology professor and director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast. "The mistake people often make is they think there has to be instant chemistry to have a soul mate. Instant chemistry is possible, but it's not probable. That's the myth."
Computer apps make many things in life easier for the technologically adept. But Carducci urges caution when it comes to online dating services because of the sophisticated marketing efforts used to sell the services and the ease by which customers can mislead others about their character.
Face-to-face encounters take more time and effort but can be more revealing and often rely on a "much deeper" filtering system -- the people you choose to surround yourself with socially or through work, religious or service activities.
"The people that you associate with in a sense have already been vetted," Carducci said. "They have the same interests and values that you have, or they wouldn't be your friend."
Carducci encourages people to work the room, but as social facilitators, not job seekers. Dance or talk with a wide range of people, he said. Introduce friends and acquaintances to new people. These efforts make the facilitators appear more attractive and approachable.
"Look at how people find jobs. The best way is knowing someone who knows someone; it's the same with finding a soul mate," Carducci said. "We tell people, 'You want to find a soul mate, be a better friend, extend your social network.'"
Here are some other tips for finding romance:
- Don't wait for people to find you. "A real problem that women have is they can be passive," Carducci said. "They wait for men to come to them. The problem then is that you get chosen instead of doing the choosing."
- Women want bold boys -- not bad boys. Carducci said women are attracted to men who can talk and who are social. "So, we tell guys to show up at a party or social event with six of their buddies and introduce them around. They become really attractive when they're the social connector."
- Limit the snark. "Never underestimate kindness, compliments and social graces," Carducci said. "Most people think that in a dating situation, you have to be brilliant, the suave debonair individual. If someone likes you for being brilliant, you have to be brilliant all the time. You just have to be nice."
- Volunteer. Volunteer work is an overt statement of one's values and beliefs. "It's not checking a little box on a survey," Carducci said. "It's telling with their feet and most importantly, their time."
- Engage in "quick talk." Share brief comments and observations at daily haunts, such as grocery stores, coffee shops and schools. The shared environment often means shared interests. "When people see you there all the time, they think 'Next time, I'm going to talk to that person because she's friendly.'"
Carducci , author of "The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk: How to Talk to Anyone Anytime Anywhere About Anything," can be reached at 812-941-2295 or firstname.lastname@example.org.