How to date like a pro (or a psychologist)


Let’s be honest, the process of getting to know someone is complicated. You may have been on a series of dates with someone who at first showed promise but who went on to display traits that were less than attractive, off-putting, at worst, annoying.

You may have been searching for ‘the one’ for a short time or for a lifetime. You could (and may well have) employed the services of a dating guru, a fortune teller, a personal trainer to get yourself into Adonis-esque (is that even a word?) shape. You could wish on a star, evoke the power of the Universe, read countless books, blogs (such as this) articles or even watch dating tips on YouTube.

But what about the science of dating? What do the sciences have to say about dating and the human condition?

Here are 7 pearls of wisdom from the world of psychology:

dating heads

  1. The truth tellers

According to studies 81 percent of people lie on their online dating profiles.

Surprised? I doubt it.

The lies are most often about age, height, weight, and income. Don’t’ even get me started on Photoshopping. In the study “Lying to Get a Date,” Wade C. Rowatt et al found that the more physically attractive a prospective date was, the more willing both men and women were to lie to get their attention. People were less inclined to lie in order to meet a less attractive suitor but happy to embellish on their own appearance, personality, income, past relationship outcomes, and career skills for someone they find more attractive.

  1. Hitting a funny bone

A sense of humour is attractive. It’s a mood-lifter.  Laughter creates a sense of intimacy and camaraderie. But it can also be a cunning disguise for insecure people who are looking to deflect attention from their true personality. A study by Claudia Chloe Brumbaugh and Chris R. Fraley showed that insecure people have numerous dating tactics and positive qualities that they display to win someone over. Pay attention to whether humour is deflecting your attention from what your date is really like. Bear in mind that a secure person with a stable self-regard, someone who values close connection and honesty has no need to be a continuous hoot, but someone who needs to convince you of his or her desire for connection does. Be fun but don’t be a clown. Have fun but don’t get duped.

  1. The Chase aka Anticipatory joy

I once read a story about an iguana who refused to be fed and was slowly starving himself to death. One day the iguana saw his owner eating a sandwich whereby he upped and pounced on the plate and devoured the sandwich. It seemed that the iguana would rather have starved to death than not experience the pleasure of chasing, hunting and capturing his food. This anticipatory joy, displayed in both animals and humans, probably helped us survive and guaranteed our reproduction as a species.  Anticipatory joy also helps perform challenging tasks with the drive and determination needed to run marathons, pass exams, climb mountains, succeed in business and of course in love. We humans enjoy chasing our dreams and also value things more when we’ve worked for them. A caveat (as you may have expected) is that we mortals often overestimate the amount of happiness something will bring us. Think of a cat who chases a toy but loses interest as soon as it catches it.

Some people love the thrill of the chase but as soon as their romantic partner is smitten, they lose interest. So be mindful of the thrill chaser. Our anticipatory joy can be deceiving.

  1. Boundaries

Sharing is good right? Perhaps a half truth. Exchanging information and sharing experiences is necessary for communication but science shows that too much self-revelation in the initial stages of dating can be a red flag.

Insecure and anxious people are much more likely to over-talk and offer up ‘too much information’ on a first date. This type of individual is needy and preoccupied with themselves and so sharing has more to do with them than you. Closet anxious types may seem more interesting in the beginning with their dramatic stories, but don’t let them fool you into thinking they’re more attractive than they actually are. The truth will most likely prevail when a relationship becomes established and their anxiety becomes a nuisance. So pay attention to what is shared on a first date and even closer attention to how much you share.

  1. Fact finding missions

You don’t need to be a psychologist to work out that someone who talks about themselves non-stop without asking you a question in return or pausing for breath is worth writing off. Now some people regard the first and second dates as a fact-finding mission, which might makes sense on the surface, but it can mean you miss out on the fuller story.  Try to listen to the content and how the story is retold. The way someone tells a story and how it’s articulated can tell you a lot about their personality and character. Listen and make your own judgement, is the story an effort to tell you something important about themselves or are they just trying to impress you?

  1. How soon is too soon?

Data suggests that 71% of men’s initial messages go unanswered, and that number was only slightly better for women as 56% of their messages disappear into ‘the cloud’.

A study of online messaging behaviour from the University of California, found that waiting too long to reciprocate a message while often thought of as being cool, can actually backfire. The study involving 182,000 messaging pairs found that for each day that passed between the first hello and a reply, the chances of getting a response went down by 0.7% which may not sound very much but if you wait a month, your chances go down by almost 20%.  They also found that people who were already chatting online were more likely to respond to messages from other people.  In the words of the researchers “Activity begets more activity.” In this particular study the researchers were very clear that the data suggested there was no such thing as too quick a reply.

  1. Confidence versus arrogance

Confidence is a highly attractive quality. Self-confidence is said to predict romantic desirability, limit the potential for romantic rivals, and helps people win hearts.

However arrogance has the opposite effect. Superiority is the modus operandi of an arrogant person. Arrogant people are single-minded, they either think that they’re superior to others or inferior to them. Arrogant people constantly look past you for someone else to talk to always wondering if the next person can benefit them more than you. It’s may prove difficult to retain eye contact with an arrogant person.

Confident people on the other hand will happily maintain eye contact. Eye contact is an integral part of any conversation. Confident people make eye contact and also make others feel that what they have to say is important and worth listening to.

It’s not called The Dating Game for nothing. It’s a game alright – a game of strategy.

You can read more about dating and dating confidence here or simply get in touch today.

Gail Marra D.Hyp MNCH (Acc) LAPHP is a GHR registered Clinical Hypnotherapist accredited by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, National Register of Psychotherapists and Counsellors and the Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council

10 Harley Street, London W1G 9PF      Tel: 020 7873 2051

The Chilston Clinic, Royal Tunbridge Wells TN4 8RA      Tel: 01892 513535


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