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25 November 2008

How do you define a "connection"? (Another sort-of dating question, sorry...)[More:]I laughed hysterically while reading this post and this post, and then I realized that I've dated a few of the latter types! Although it was meant to be a parody, the M is clearly not "connecting" to the F because he is completely absorbed in subjects that interest him, with nothing to do with her.

WHICH made me start thinking, what exactly is a romantic connection, anyway? When I see couples connect, it's either because 1) they have some hobby/profession intensely in common or 2) they fall into gender roles--I've seen women "catch" and connect with a boyfriend by saying things like, can I cook you a meal? Can I help you with your laundry? I'm a lousy cook and I can't possibly discuss software engineering with someone, but is nodding at a story that's over my head [I'm not bored at all, I just don't know what questions to ask] really connecting? * It's obviously more than that. But what is it? What is the process that leads to it?

Box has the right idea in this comment from my previous dating question, thanks box! I guess I'm feeling down because I don't know how to try to connect to someone (having failed recently)--I can't offer to cook or brilliant insights on calibrated equipment, so what can I offer? /self pity

* A guy rejected me once because I couldn't discuss all the things that interested him, like physics. Yes, I know I'm better off without him. But that's not all you brilliant guys are looking for, right?!
I am convinced it's a numbers game and that you just hafta keep meeting new people until you get that two-way click. So then it becomes all about location, being somewhere that makes meeting others fairly easy, whether on your own or through networking.

You raise the ol' knowledge versus practicality spectre. Do we share interests or fulfill complementary roles? I doubt any individual is destined for one basis or the other exclusively, but if you have neither knowledge nor skills, you will be constantly fighting uphill.
posted by Ardiril 25 November | 22:40
I'm probably not the best person to answer this question. I think we "connect" with people as we get to know them and appreciate them. We connect when our guards are down and we have an open heart, as sappy as that sounds.

In the dating world, you might "click". Do you first click and then connect? :-) They're both kind of goofy words to describe human interaction.

A long time ago I secretly had the hots for this guy I was in nursing school with. We were at a big state nurses association thing and I offered to iron his shirt. This was the stupidest thing I could have done in so many ways. He declined my offer. Don't offer to do anything unless your intentions are sincere.
posted by LoriFLA 25 November | 22:41
Step one: have vigorous, enjoyable sex
Step two: twirl your partner's hair while looking into his/her beautiful eyes

Be careful! This connection can be quite strong. But what if that doesn't work, you say? Well God dammit, it's got to!
posted by spork 25 November | 23:17
I now see that you can't do this for him. I'll shush.
posted by spork 25 November | 23:28
You can't connect with someone who isn't interested at all in you. Really. If, like the git in the second comment, a person is totally absorbed in their own fantasy world or has already decided you aren't of interest to them, you could cook a four-course dinner out of Escoffier and it won't have any effect whatever.

I agree with Ardiril on this in part - it's a numbers game, and you have to meet a lot of people to find a few you connect with.

But the other side is that you have to be connected with yourself. You need to be at ease with yourself, comfortable, and relatively confident, and have interests of your own, ideas of your own, and a sense of humor of your own. Beacuse those are the things you connect over - your individual quirks that the other person can enjoy. If you are insecure and have a lot of interpersonal barriers up, it's almost impossible to connect with anyone. But if you are confident and have some 'meat' to you - some interesting stuff in your personality - then every now and then you will run across someone who likes the spark in you, and recongnizes it.

If you're observing women offering to cook a meal, and it's working, my guess is that the 'connection' pre-existed the offer. Because offering stuff like that out of the blue just seems desperate and a little creepy. But if you have already been playing the eye-contact, i-like-you game with someone and make an offer of any kind, and they feel connected already, they're likely to take you up on it. But it's not the offer in itself - it's the already-established desire to get to know more about you.

Basically, I connect to people best when I don't have barriers up - don't have to act 'professional,' don't have deadlines and pressure, and can indulge in my slightly snarky sense of humor and natural enthusiasm for goings-on. And I tend to connect best with fellow-travelers who are very curious, like me, and natural enthusiasts. So I wouldn't say I'm doing anything specific to make connections, other than to be myself and be open to others who share those qualities with me.
posted by Miko 25 November | 23:57
My thoughts on this are that "catching" someone is only a short-term success, and that furthermore, the catcher (and perhaps the "catch") knows this, adding even more layers of complexity and insecurity to the situation.

Whatever the bait is, it will soon lose it's power to charm if the other aspects of mutual attraction and respect aren't solid. So, if someone wants to make a short-term connection and they use whatever is to hand to "seduce" the other, they can be successful and satisfied... but if they want something more serious, they are setting themselves up for unhappiness. I'm not saying that long-term relationships, marriages, etc., don't ever result from these methods (they definitely do!), just that they won't be happy ones.

Though, of course, we are talking about love here, so it's not even quite that simple. Let's just take one of your examples, cooking for someone (&tc), for instance:

Somebody might "catch" someone by creating an enjoyable, much-improved domestic situation. The catch sees the serene, attractive household, comes home to the aroma of something delicious on the stove, loves the sight of those freshly washed and ironed clothes in the dresser drawers, and maybe feels like "whoah, I could get used to this; my life felt chaotic before, and now things are so pleasant..." But a few months down the line, he (usually, in this case) or she is no longer so impressed with the nice supper ("I could get that at a restaurant, or learn to cook"), or the tidy order ("I could get a maid, plus where the hell is my XYZ - I can't find anything any more"), and feels oppressed upon coming home, because they have nothing to say to the other one, and are fed up with his/her expectations - something they didn't think about when they signed up for the domestic bliss program. They become surly, things fall apart.


Someone offers to cook for another, or brings them something special they cooked... And the recipient begins to think, "oh, hey, he/she might actually like me... really? wow!" Because they just hadn't caught all the clues that had been pelted in their direction prior to the offer.

So, it's really up to the "catcher" to try to navigate through this sort of minefield of the heart as best they can. If they feel like they are putting on a false face to lure the object of their affection, if they feel like they have to offer some kind of "value-added" package in order for the other one to be interested, then it's not likely that the attraction will endure. But if they find that once they've managed to catch you see what I did there? the attention of their heart's desire, and it turns out that this person is really interested and into them rather than the bait, then, of course all is well. Distinguishing the one from the other is not necessarily the easiest thing, but if you are presenting yourself in a way that doesn't feel authentic, or suppressing essential aspects of your personality, that's a really good indication that it probably won't be a great match.
posted by taz 26 November | 03:27
Basically, I connect to people best when I don't have barriers up - don't have to act 'professional,' don't have deadlines and pressure, and can indulge in my slightly snarky sense of humor and natural enthusiasm for goings-on. And I tend to connect best with fellow-travelers who are very curious, like me, and natural enthusiasts. So I wouldn't say I'm doing anything specific to make connections, other than to be myself and be open to others who share those qualities with me.

Quoted because I could have said the same thing. Live your life with enthusiasm, and connect with people as much as you can - this is the important thing.
posted by altolinguistic 26 November | 05:02
Let me cross-post here to my AskMe comment on this.

But I'm talking about a bond, or long term relationship, where connection could just mean a spark, which is more about how you get your foot in the door.

posted by StickyCarpet 26 November | 12:08
Cotton blend sheets and pillowcases and duvets, oh my! || this is important [flickr]