Relationships

Dating someone new? This is why listening to your body language is key, according to an expert

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Anna Brech
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Do you find it hard to work out how you really feel in the first few weeks of dating someone new? Try tuning into your body language for a more authentic assessment of your thoughts and instincts within. 

Anyone who’s familiar with the minefield of modern dating will know that it’s not easy to get a feel for someone you’ve just met. While it takes us an average of a tenth of a second to make a first impression, that initial judgement is often wrong

Moreover, first date nerves may obscure your instincts; along with an overriding pressure to say the right thing, or fill an awkward silence. If you find yourself in a pattern of disappointing meetups, however, fear not. It may just be that you’re not paying enough attention to your gut reaction to a new date (rather than what they think of you). 

In an intriguing new piece for Psychology Today this week, Chicago-based clinical psychologist Dr Roxy Zarrabi breaks down the common obstacles that may get between you and a satisfying date life. And high on the list comes how you feel deep down: both when you’re with and away from your new match.

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Dr Zarrabi, who is also a mindful dating expert, says it’s important not to dismiss any signs of discomfort you experience when you’re around someone new. 

“When you’re dating someone new, observing how you feel around them physically and emotionally can provide you with valuable information about your sense of emotional safety with this person,” she writes. 

“Following the first few dates with a new person, it can be helpful to meditate and/or journal to explore how you felt when spending time with them.”

To make matters more confusing, Dr Zarrabi explains that it’s not unusual to feel a spark of chemistry with someone new; when it reality, that sensation has more to do with anxiety.

“Our subconscious minds are primed to be drawn to what is familiar to us so when we meet someone who reminds us of a person from our past, we may feel a magnetic pull to be with them; a sense that we’ve ‘known them forever,’” she writes on Instagram.

“If you didn’t have a healthy role model for a romantic relationship growing up or your relationship with your caregivers was strained or inconsistent, then it’s possible you may be feeling anxiety around a potential partner but interpreting it as strong chemistry.” 

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Because of these blurred lines, along with a tendency to override our gut instincts, it’s helpful to listen to how our bodies respond around someone new. Often, your body will be aware of a feeling before your brain has a chance to consciously register it, which is why body language can be a more reliable litmus test to your inner responses and reactions than simply thinking, “How do I feel?”

Dr. Zarrabi recommends asking questions such as, “how does my body respond to being around this person?” and, “Do I feel a sense of ease or do I feel on edge?”

Another useful practice Dr. Zarrabi suggests trying in the early stage of seeing someone is to reflect how you feel when you’re away from your new date – on top of listening to how you feel when you’re in their company.

“When you’re not together, do you feel secure about your connection and this person’s communication with you or do you feel uncertain of where you stand and when they will be in contact with you?” she says. 

Tuning in to how you feel in this way may feel a little awkward at first, but it will also help pave the way to more meaningful encounters. This, in turn, will ensure you stay true to your feelings; no matter who is lucky enough to cross paths with you on a date. 

Images: Getty 

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.