Viv’s question in the last post highlights another common dating mistake: overanalyzing others’ behavior to try to figure out what they’re thinking and feeling. Carrie and friends in Sex and the City did this constantly. First, the long descriptors of his every action, word, facial expression, and body language. Then, the dissecting. What does it mean? What does he mean? What does it mean for our future? Do we have a future?
Overanalyzing is a way to stay emotionally safe. In the comfort of the company of good friends, it’s safe to examine his behavior. There’s no emotional risk in having a conversation with someone else about the person you’re unsure of. He’s not there to tell you the truth, to reveal his honest feelings and thoughts.
Relationships are risky, there’s no doubt about it. The more we let down the emotional walls, allow intimacy (“into me see”), the more it hurts if things don’t work out. We invest in relationships sometimes not knowing whether that investment will pay off. Yet, if we want the rewards of real love, we must take risk. To make an omelette, you have to crack some eggs.
The pay-off in taking some emotional risk is in personal growth, strengthening of the “emotional muscle” of loving and being loved. It’s in developing emotional intelligence about life and love.
There’s a smart way to take risk in dating and there’s a not-so-smart way. Paradoxically, the more you hold back your perceptions, not asking relevant questions about where you stand with someone, while overanalyzing with your friends, the more you set yourself up to get hurt. As time goes on and you spend time with someone, bonds strengthen. You can’t afford to bond further with someone without knowing where you stand, and the key to that is taking emotional risk by engaging in open, honest communication.
About the author: Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a nationally known psychotherapist, author of five self-help books, and frequent expert media guest. Read Nina’s transformational books; for women: Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid, and for men: Date Like a CEO: Leadership in Life and Love for Men. To successfully date online, get Nina’s $0.99 cent eBook Internet Dating for the Savvy Single. Get loads of free advice at www.singlescoach.com.